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North Country procurement program needs financial help


The organization that helps businesses and contractors get through the process of obtaining government contracts at Fort Drum needs some financial assistance to continue all of its services.

Faced with a $22,000 deficit, the North Country Procurement Technical Assistance Center, 1241 Coffeen St., began looking for additional money so it can continue to provide services in all five counties it serves.

In the past week, the center was able to cut that deficit in half, as it continues to look for additional funding sources, said Lynn M. Pietroski, CEO and president of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. The chamber oversees the program.

If the additional funds cannot be found, the center will be forced to serve only Jefferson County businesses and stop helping clients in Lewis, St. Lawrence, Oswego and Oneida counties, she said. The center, located at the Chamber of Commerce office, ran a deficit because it lost state and federal funding when Watertown no longer was designated a “distressed” community.

This morning, the Watertown Local Development Corp. will consider giving the center a $3,000 donation. Its Loan Review & Eligibility Committee unanimously agreed last week to help the center.

Providing the service for free, the center helps businesses expand and do more work with the government by helping them get through bureaucratic red tape and contract language that may be difficult to decipher, Mrs. Pietroski said.

“It’s a much-needed service for our area,” program manager Stephen M. Barr said, adding the closest other office is in Rochester.

He helps clients understand how to apply for and bid on government projects, develop marketing plans and develop business plans that match each company’s niche with the right projects.

Last year, the center helped about 275 small and large businesses, with about 90 of them in Watertown, Mr. Barr said.

Over the years, the center has obtained about $94 million in Fort Drum contracts for all of its clients.

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