Friday, October 20, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Canadians seeing benefits of doing business in the North Country

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne says business officials from Canada attending a workshop heard first hand from some of their colleagues about the benefits of doing business in St. Lawrence County.

The Commercial Service of the United States Embassy hosted a workshop in Ogdensburg for Canadian companies interested in exploring business expansion opportunities in the U.S. market. The event was sponsored by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

"This was a spectacular event for Canadian firms that have shown an interest in expanding into the United States. The business community members from Canada at the forum - and they came by the dozens - were engaged, asked good questions and had an opportunity to find out about the great opportunities to do business in this region," Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne said.

Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, presented the key note address.

This workshop included presentations on topics ranging from establishing a U.S. corporation and work visas to tax implications for Canadian firms and incentives for business expansion projects.

Assemblywoman Jenne told the workshop attendees that all levels of government are working together in an effort to grow business and jobs in the North Country.

"We are working in a cooperative approach across the region, a cooperative approach to economic development. We will make sure everybody you need to know gets brought to the table," she said, welcoming members of the Canadian business community to St. Lawrence County.

"We have communities with university settings here. We have traditional manufacturing communities that are shifting toward high tech. We also have bucolic settings, if that better suits your needs," she added.

"We also have redundant internet, and now we have communities that are one gig up, one gig down. We have five colleges from Watertown to Massena, and they have strategic relationships with other institutions of higher education," the assemblywoman pointed out.

Assemblywoman Jenne said the North Country workforce is talented and capable. She said the skill set they carry - rooted in the region's agricultural roots - includes a willingness to work hard and the ability to problem solve, traits many learned as they watched their grandparents at work.

"A lot of North Country kids, because of those work skills, are snapped up wherever they go to find work. We know we generate a world class workforce. It would be great if you could help us keep them here," she said.

"We have everything you need to succeed here, and we are here to help you," Assemblywoman Jenne stressed.

The afternoon session was highlighted by a presentation by William Fry, president of Canexsys Network. He talked about his firm's recent establishment of a manufacturing facility in Ogdensburg.

"It was exciting and gratifying to hear Mr. Fry share the story of his business opening its doors in Ogdenburg. His experience showed the messages they heard from state, county and local officials weren't just a sales pitch. Hats off to the team at the St. Lawrence County IDA and the OBPA for being able to back up what they say. The takeaway was it is essential to continue doing the hard work of developing and attracting small businesses," Assemblywoman Jenne reiterated.

"We are seeing with Canexys, for example, that work has translated into employment opportunities for local workers, and the company expects to continue to increase the number of employees at its Ogdensburg plant," she noted.

Canexsys Networks Inc. has leased a space at the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Commerce Park. The company specializes in the manufacture of electronic circuit boards, connectors, metal fabrication and injection mold plastic.

Mr. Fry said Canexsys has reached full capacity at its current manufacturing facility and started at looking at options for expansion in Ontario and in the United States.

"We have a lot of U.S. customers, and we had to expand. We also looked at South Carolina and Arizona, but this area was best for us. We came here because the business was right for us, not because we were looking for U.S. customers," he stressed.

Mr. Fry, who said he lives on the other side of the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg, said his relationship with local officials dates back two years to a similar Expand to the U.S. workshop.

"Everything you are hearing here is true. Our costs to run a plant here are considerably cheaper on all sorts of levels ... Our electricity is about one-fifth of what you are paying," he said.

"The enthusiasm you feel in this room is genuine. They mean it. The resources the IDA provided havemade it so easy. They set up a meeting for me, and everybody was in the room - Empire State Development, three banks, everybody I needed to meet with," he recalled.

"We started here in June. We are up to 16 to 18 employees. The plan was 11. We hired another six this week. The workforce here is positive, upbeat. It has been a very positive experience," the Canexsys president reiterated.

Assemblywoman Jenne said it was obvious Mr. Fry's message was well received by Canadian business leaders in the room considering expansion into the United States.

"We know creating more employment opportunities in the North Country is critical. It is clear the work being done in this region is starting to get results. This week's workshop offered proof local economic development officials are doing the right things to attract more jobs to our region," she said.


Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne speaks at the Expand to the U.S. workshop held at the Dobinsky Center in Ogdensburg.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne on hand for first cutting at Indian River grow racks

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne recently stopped at Indian River Central School to watch students harvest the first greens from the district's new grow racks.

The district, utilizing funding secured by Assemblywoman Jenne, purchased grow racks from 2445 Organics of Massena to raise products that will be used in the district's cafeteria.

Assemblywoman Jenne said the district's plan calls for high school and middle school students to grow produce in their classrooms and then use that produce to expand menu options in the school's cafeterias.

She noted each tray in the grow racks can hold 12 flats of plants. Indian River expects to use the racks to grow salad greens, basil, cilantro, kale and spinach.

Assemblywoman Jenne secured funding for the second year of the farm to school pilot program in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties in the 2017-18 state budget.

Indian River is one of 19 schools in the North Country taking part in the farm-to-school pilot program this school year.

"Each school embraces farm to school in its own way," Assemblywoman Jenne said. "It's interesting to see how big schools like Indian River do things compared to small schools like Hermon Dekalb.”

"It helps me fine-tune the program as the data we are collecting gives me the arguments to ensure future programs are flexible enough to serve district needs," she added.

She said the $300,000 allocated for the pilot program this year is part of over a $1 million included in the budget for farm to school initiatives around the state that will help schools purchase more food from local farmers and expand access to healthy local, food for students.The pilot program for the North Country is being administered by the Adirondack North Country Association.

She noted indoor grow racks were purchased by 19 percent of the schools participating in the first year of the pilot program.

"Having students involved directly in growing their food has really helped spread the word about the farm to school program," Assemblywoman Jenne noted.

She said those grow racks have fueled increased student interest in the growing process and created excitement about the access to locally grown foods on school grounds.

"The kids take pride in their work and can get immediate positive feedback from their peers. It’s a great learning environment and is what we need to keep our youth engaged in agricultural ventures," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Indian River has also purchased apples, tomatoes, organic potatoes, and watermelon from local producers in recent months.

"The funding for this pilot program is not only allowing schools to bring fresh local food into their cafeterias, but it is also being used in conjunction with other funds that will allow students to access for even more products from local farmers," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

The Indian River Central School District, for example, is also working with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County to expand its farm to school initiative after receiving a planning grant from the USDA.

Assemblywoman Jenne said farm to school programs are benefitting students at schools around the North Country.

"It's clear the kids are getting more excited and interested in eating fresh, local foods. It's healthier for the kids, and it's benefiting our local growers, producers and our local economy,” according to the assemblywoman.



Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne keeps an eye on Indian River Central School student Ethan Ruttan as he harvests the first greens from the school's new grow rack. The racks were purchased with funds from Assemblywoman Jenne's North Country farm to school pilot program.


Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne (foreground) and Indian River Central Food Service Director Ann Easter check out the greens being grown in the district's new grow racks.

Indian River Central School students (l-) Ethan Ruttan, Nolan Drake, Eric Albro and Hunter Hoffman join Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne with salads made from greens grown on the district's new grow racks.

Indian River Central School Food Service Director Ann Easter discusses the farm to school pilot program with Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne and the school's business administrator, Joseph Dougherty.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Deadline approaching for annual North Country Department Store

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne says applications are still being accepted for the annual North Country Department Store scheduled for Nov. 18 at the Indian River Middle School.

"The applications have started rolling in, and we know the numbers typically escalate in the weeks before the event. We fill our limited space on a first come, first serve basis," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

The North Country Department Store, a one-day event, typically attracts approximately 90 vendors. This year's event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Indian River Middle School off Route 11 in Philadelphia.

The vendors typically sell products ranging from jewelry, housewares, artwork and home decor to antiques, toys, sporting goods and honey and specialty foods.

The show features vendors from Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.

"This is an effort to showcase the many small businesses that give our North Country such unique offerings. It's an effort to connect customers with vendors from our own backyard, and this event is timed to be near the start of the holiday shopping season," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Vendors must register for the North Country Department Store by Nov. 8 by emailing or by calling (315) 786-0284 or (315) 386-2037.

Proceeds from the event are divided between the Indian River FFA and Noah's Ark Preschool. The organizations provide volunteer support for the event.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Funding available for water quality projects on farms

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, has announced New York State has allotted $50 million in grant funding for water quality projects on farms.

The funding is part of the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act Assemblwoman Jenne supported in this year’s state budget as part of her continued efforts to ensure safe drinking water and necessary environmental protections for all New Yorkers.

“It takes an incredible amount of hard work for farmers to make necessary infrastructure improvements in their operations in these challenging times for our ag industry, and this funding will help them implement important water quality projects,” Assemblywoman Jenne said.

There are over 1,000 farms with more than 200 cows and calves across New York State. The funding will help those farms invest in proper management and storage of nutrients, such as manure. If not stored properly, manure can be washed away with runoff, possibly contaminating both drinking and groundwater.

The funding will also assist farmers in complying with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) new environmental requirements.

The first application period, with $20 million available, is currently open and closes on Nov. 20.

County soil and water conservation districts can apply for the program on behalf of eligible farmers. Each proposal has a maximum award of $385,000, which includes funding for engineering and construction expenses.

Grant awards will be announced by mid-December. An additional $15 million will be available in both 2018 and 2019. Further information and online applications can be found by visiting

"Agriculture and our rivers and lakes are critical economic drivers in the North Country. This program will benefit our farmers and our environment," Assemblywoman Jenne stressed.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: No place for demeaning name calling in North Country campaigns

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne (D-Theresa) says there is no place in politics for the demeaning comments a Democratic candidate for Congress has made about Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

"You can disagree with her politics and question her motivation, her record and her ties to the 21st Congressional District. But this demeaning name calling - and that is exactly what this is - is unbecoming for someone seeking to serve our region and nation in Congress," she said.

"It's ironic and unacceptable a candidate would use these demeaning words to describe a female elected official in the same year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of a woman's right to vote in New York State," Assemblywoman Jenne added.

Congressional candidate Steve Krieg of Plattsburgh had referred to Congresswoman as a "little girl" in a Facebook post and doubled down on those comments at a Congressional forum this week in Canton.

The Congressional candidate raised the issue of his Facebook post when asked to distinguish himself from the other candidates in the field running to represent the North Country in the House of Representatives.

“I have been accused of being a sexist for calling Elise a little girl. And I probably deserve to be called a sexist. I think most of us if we admit it have some some of sexist in us, have some of the racist in us. It’s something if we’re decent people we recognize in ourselves and we struggle with it all of our lives,” he responded.

“But Elise, I recognize her as ... I’m not going to say a little girl. I recognize her as a child. And it has nothing to do with her age. I see her as a child because she’s a child. She thinks like a child. She has people set things up for her, she has people put their words in her mouth and she happily repeats them. And I think recognizing her, I would go after her in that way. And I apologize if that’s mean but that’s how I would do it,” he added.

Assemblywoman Jenne said there are a number of significant issues facing the North Country from health care to national security and that needs to be the focus of races for public office.

"I have been disappointed by the political discourse at the national level for the past several months, and I think we need to stand up when candidates inject sexist or racist language into the conversation about a candidate's fitness for office here in the North Country," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Assemblywoman Russell working on funding for recreation, security initiatives in Massena

Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell has committed to secure $250,000 to assist village officials make improvements to recreational facilities in the community and purchase vehicles and equipment for public safety departments.

"Massena has some serious issues going on now. They are battling a serious drug problem in their community as well as the closure and downsizing of manufacturing plants that had served as the economic engine for much of the last 50 years," Assemblywoman Russell said.

She said she has been working with Massena community leaders for the past several months on a variety of community initiatives.

"I visited with Mayor Timmy Currier, and we talked about some of the village's current needs and the vision for its future," she said.

"This funding, much like the $250,000 I was previously able to secure for the Boys and Girls Club of Massena, is aimed at assisting village officials and other community leaders address some of the social issues challenging Massena," the assemblywoman noted.

"I have worked with Massena's leadership to provide funding as part of the multi-pronged approach to address those issues. Part of that approach is prevention and part of it is public safety," according to Assemblywoman Russell.

The village plans to use the latest round of funding Assemblywoman Russell is working to secure to purchase a K-9 patrol vehicle and new digital voice recorder for the police department, upgrade the police department's surveillance equipment in the community and purchase a new pickup truck for the fire department.

The plans also call for resurfacing the tennis, pickleball and basketball courts at Alcoa Field as well as spending nearly $90,000 for playground equipment and other enhancements for a new park off Water Street with public access to the Grasse River.

Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier said Assemblywoman Russell has been a great partner in bringing money into the community to assist with local projects.

"These are challenging times for the village of Massena. We simply can't just turn to our taxpayers and ask for more. We are looking to our department heads and asking them what can we cut. This funding from Assemblywoman Russell will provide us with the money we need so we can maintain the facilities we have, purchase equipment and work to make community enhancements that can work hand in hand with our economic development efforts," Mayor Currier said.

"In Massena, first as chief of police and now as mayor, my experience in dealing with the assemblywomen and her ability to obtain funding for important projects has demonstrated her focus is  on important projects that improve the lives of people in my community," Mayor Currier said.

"Specifically, three years ago, when the opiate problem in this region was beginning to really show up, Addie came to me and asked, “How can I help?” and that’s what she has tried to do. These are not her pet projects. These are projects that improve public safety and improve the quality of life in the community, which helps local government solve problems," he stressed.

Assemblywoman Russell said she has been impressed with the work Mayor Currier and the Massena Drug Free Coalition to address the opiate issues in the community.

"This funding will allow the village to improve its recreational assets as well as support the Massena Village Police Department, the men and women on the front lines trying to keep the community safe from the criminal activity connected to opioid addiction and working with their partners in law enforcement to apprehend those moving heroin and other drugs into our communities," she added.

"But it is equally important to provide our young people with other options and positive role models. Many children, the children of addicts, are suffering in this epidemic, and we need to provide them with safe places so kids can be kids," Assemblywoman Russell said.

"I support and applaud the efforts Massena leaders have taken to address these issues in their community, the efforts to provide structured environment for young people. This community has stepped up to address this issue, and I am pleased I have been able to partner with them to secure funding to help Massena move forward. Working together we will be able to make a difference," she added.


Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier discussed his plans for improvements at Alcoa Field and other village-owned properties in Massena with Assemblywoman Addie Jenne Russell. Mayor Currier took Assemblywoman Russell on a tour of several sites in Massena when she visited the community earlier this year.

Door to door fun on the streets of Massena

One of the enjoyable parts of campaigning is getting to meet constituents going door to door in their neighborhoods. We had some fun in Massena last weekend when we met a couple of neighbors who stand on different sides of the proverbial political fence and have some fun with that. Mike Violi was pretty certain his neighbor, George Hammill, who sits on the red side of the fence, would enjoy a visit from his assemblywoman. George was very gracious and even posed for a photograph with me. I'm guessing some of his friends will enjoy this picture. In a year when national and local races were so nasty, it is nice to see people with differing political views celebrating those differences and having fun with it.