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Bethlehem IDA to consider growth group

Board will discuss issue further at next meeting

The Bethlehem Industrial Agency is considering a proposal by Supervisor Sam Messina to broach a new angle to the group's mission of furthering economic development in the town.

The BIDA Board considered the ideabut made no voteMonday, March 22, to have IDA Secretary Joseph Richardson work with Messina in researching ways to advance growth issues.

The board will revisit the proposal Wednesday, April 22, said IDA Chair Frank Venezia.

"We need to figure out, what is it they're going to do," he said. "And that is the big question we're going to talk about the next meeting."

Richardson said he is drawing up ideas for economic development and intends to focus on three key areas of development: the Vista Technology Campus, Selkirk Railyards and moving the recommendations of the town's 20/20 report forward.

I think the IDA board is very excited about looking at potential opportunities," Richardson said. "We haven't had a lot of activity in the past few years, partly due to the economy and I think we just need to get more engaged and more involved."

Messina " a former IDA board member who now acts in an advisory capacity as supervisor" brought the idea of pursuing subcommittee forward, and said he'll work with Richardson to bring the resources of the town to bear.

"I think he's been waiting to be asked, and there's full support to have work with me, with [Planning Board Chairman] George Leveille, with [Assistant Engineer] Terry Ritz and [Deputy Supervisor] John Smolinsky," Messina said. "We have to gear up, we have to look at our opportunities differently, and Joe can help us do that."

Richardson works in the banking industry, from which he took a brief hiatus to serve as the director of economic development for the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. Messina said he hopes Richardson's business connections will serve the town well.

"He knows personally the big developers he just has lots of contacts," Messina said.

Venezia said the BIDA must look into how the operation can be implemented, perhaps by subcommittee, and discuss who else would be involved.

"I think it's a fine idea and I'm all for it," he said. "There might be subcommittee designated that people volunteer for, and they could be working on things in between meetings."

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