Jefferson County has run a successful marketing machine since 1994, but program leaders decided Wednesday to pull the plug on its 18-year existence.
Board members unanimously voted to dissolve the Jefferson County Job Development Corp., which had a membership program with 109 participating businesses in 2012. More than $300,000 in leftover marketing funds from the nonprofit organization will now go to Jefferson County, which is then expected to transfer it to the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for marketing.
The vote to dissolve JCJDC was at the request of the JCIDA, which has spent the past year restructuring its subagencies to comply with a ruling made by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in February 2012. According to the ruling, employees who worked for nonprofit subagencies of the JCIDA local development corporations did not work directly for the IDA; as a consequence, their state pension rights were revoked.
The JCJDC was established to function as the countys marketing arm by providing a link to the business community through its membership program. Quarterly breakfast meetings along with education and work force development events provided an information exchange between economic development leaders and business owners.
But that membership program will no longer exist because the JCIDA doesnt have the nonprofit status needed to continue it.
The manufacturing and marketing committees previously under the JCJDC umbrella, which had governing authority, now continue that function as councils the JCIDA controls. Projects and ideas that come out of those meetings will be considered by the seven-member IDA board instead of the JCJDC.
David J. Converse, the JCIDA board chairman, has been involved in the JCJDCs efforts since its inception in 1996. The owner of Converse Laboratories in Watertown said the agencys membership program provided a valuable resource for businesses that will now be missed.
Weve been able to reach out to the business community, and this definitely hurts the ability of the community as a vehicle to continue doing it, he said. We still want to have an outreach and visitation program through the IDA.
Mr. Converse said getting started on that plan wont be possible, however, until the agency puts out the fires caused by the state comptroller. At that time, we can move forward.
But the agency will try to make the most of the change by continuing to do many of the same things the JCJDC did within its revised structure, said Michelle D. Pfaff, a JCIDA board member.
Mrs. Pfaff, who was a commercial lender at Community Bank for 15 years and is now retired, was also involved with the JCJDC from the beginning.
Well lose participation for a lot of things at the community level, but well still be doing our job reaching out to business with our marketing and manufacturing councils, she said.