Potsdam planning department to use $100,000 grant to help five local artists open new businesses
Monday, January 14, 2013 - 5:11 pm

POTSDAM -- The village planning department will use a $100,000 grant to help five local artists open businesses in the village.

Frederick Hanss, Potsdam Village Director of Planning and Development, said five local artists were selected to participate in an entrepreneurial training program provided by the St. Lawrence County Arts Council. The program was a requirement for anyone receiving the "Complete the Arts Micro-Enterprise Grants."

"The goal of the project is to provide artists with business training and start-up capital to successfully open small studios and workshops that will help transform Potsdam into the center for the arts in Northern New York Stat," Hanss said."

Recipients include:

• Isaac Jude Pottery, 6 Raymond St.

• Damon Drums, 5 1/2 Elderkin St.

• Plant Pets Pottery, Old Snell Hall

• Blue Frenzy Wearable Art, Old Snell Hall and

• Heartfelt Greetings by Leigh, 51 Main St.

Hanss said each of the businesses receiving grants must maintain their operations in Potsdam and, to the extent possible, create employment opportunities for area residents.

Hilary Oak, outgoing director of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, said the idea to provide small business assistance to local artists stemmed from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council's strategic plan.

"We wanted to ensure that the North Country region's arts community had a seat at that table and played a role in the formulation of an economic revitalization strategy," she said.

She said local artists have a difficult time starting businesses, due to a lack of knowledge and experience in the field.

"We concluded that we needed to develop a pilot program to address the need in a way that could be replicated in communities across the region." she said.

The village applied for funding during the first Consolidated Funding Round issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Economic Development Council.

Hanss and the planners were surprised they were able to expend the grant funds in less than a year.

Mayor Steven Yurgartis said the village planners and members of the Arts Council will review their experience with the Arts Micro Enterprise Project and work on streamlining the process.

He said they may also identify additional grants that could fund a second round of funding.

"If anyone has a good idea about ways to build Potsdam's economy, we're always willing to listen," Yurgartis said.