In shift from past, Potsdam now home to St. Lawrence County’s two largest employers as Massena’s Alcoa slips
Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 8:21 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

In a major change from earlier decades, Potsdam is now home to St. Lawrence County’s two largest employers.

St. Lawrence Health System, the parent organization of Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Gouverneur Hospital, is the top employer in the county with 1,235 jobs. SUNY Potsdam comes in at number two with a total of 1,064 employees on campus.

Alcoa in Massena, which previously employed the most full-time workers in the county but permanently closed its two East Smelter potlines earlier this year, is now ninth in terms of total jobs. Alcoa is also the only for-profit private sector employer in the county’s top ten largest jobs providers but still fourth among the full-time job providers.

Of the “big ten,” five are non-profit organizations and four are funded through state and county taxes.

Over the past decade, the county’s economic base has shifted from once-booming Massena, which has suffered the closure of the General Motors plant and the downsizing of Alcoa.

Now five of the county’s major employers are based in the Canton-Potsdam area -- Canton-Potsdam Hospital, St. Lawrence County, SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University.

Ogdensburg’s largest employer remains the state Department of Corrections, which operates two prisons within the city’s limits. A third state prison is in Gouverneur.

United Helpers, which is the fifth-largest employer with 928 workers, also operates a sizable chunk of its organization in Ogdensburg, but has facilities throughout the county.

St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency CEO Patrick J. Kelly said the current list of employers has remained similar over the past decade, but the order has morphed, most notably with the creation of St. Lawrence Health System.

“We don’t see a lot of change in terms of the top organizations, but the positions have shifted,” he said.

Kelly said the IDA has a focus on industrial development, but is also diverse and has worked with nearly all of the county’s largest employers.

“I think this speaks to the fact the economy in the North Country and the North Country itself are changing,” he said.

A breakdown of St. Lawrence County’s 10 largest employers follows in order of total number of jobs provided. It is not an official ranking, but was compiled using information from New York State and St. Lawrence County officials. Employment numbers were provided by the individual organizations listed.

• 1. The largest job provider in St. Lawrence County is St. Lawrence County Health Systems, which includes Canton-Potsdam Hospital and all of its clinics as well as Gouverneur Hospital. It currently has 1,235 employees.

At CPH there are 764 full-time employees, 161 part-time employees, 172 per diem employees and 20 contracted employees that are not directly on the CPH payroll. At Gouverneur Hospital there are 110 full-time employees, 26 part-time employees and 42 per diem employees.

St. Lawrence Health Services is the number two provider of full time jobs at 874.

• 2. In total, 1,064 people work on the SUNY Potsdam campus. SUNY Potsdam employs 881 people, with 719 full-time and 162 part-time employees. Also on the campus is PACES which employs 180 people including 97 full-time and 83 part time workers, primarily in food service and on-campus stores. Three SUNY Research Foundation employees are also on the campus. When including PACES, it is the number three provider of full-time jobs at 816.

• 3. St. Lawrence County employs 1,008 people across its 31 departments including all county government offices, the sheriff’s department, Department of Motor Vehicles offices and Department of Highways workers. This includes 753 full-time positions, 29 part-time positions, 53 temporary positions, 15 legislators and 158 seasonal positions. It is the number six provider of full-time jobs.

• 4. New York State Department of Corrections employs 991 people in St. Lawrence County, with 949 full-time and 42 part-time/hourly positions. It is the number one provider of full-time jobs in the county.

Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg employs 337 workers, including eight part-time and eight hourly workers.

Gouverneur Correctional Facility employs 374 people, with nine hourly and three part-time workers.

Ogdensburg Correctional Facility has 337 employees, with eight part-time and six hourly workers.

It is the number one provider of full-time jobs at 949.

• 5. United Helpers employs 928 workers, with 603 full-time, 113 part-time and 212 per diem jobs. These numbers include all of its subsidiaries, which are Mosaic, Maplewood, United Helpers Management Company, Sparx and Partridge Knoll. It is the number eight provider of full-time jobs.

• 6. A total of 917 people work on the Clarkson University campus in Potsdam. Clarkson employs a total of 759 people, with 681 full-time and 78 part-time jobs. An additional 158 people are employed through Aramark, J.R. Weston and Follett, which provide services for the college cafeteria, bookstore and the Clarkson Inn. Combined it is the number five provider of full-time jobs.

• 7. St. Lawrence-Lewis County BOCES has 865 employees including 585 full-time and 35 part-time. It also employs 118 hourly/per diem employees and 127 seasonal staff members that are not employed during the school year by BOCES. It is the number nine provider of full time jobs.

• 8. St. Lawrence University in Canton employs 828 employees, with 714 full-time and 114 part-time jobs. It is the number seven provider of fulltime jobs.

• 9. Alcoa in Massena employs 800 people, all of which are full-time employees. It is the number four provider of full-time jobs in the county and the largest private sector employer.

• 10. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg employs 748 people, with 566 full-time, 79 part-time and 103 per diem jobs. This includes all clinics operated by the hospital. It is also the number 10 provider of full-time jobs.

Other major employers in St. Lawrence County include SUNY Canton, which has 612 employees on its campus. Massena Memorial Hospital with 446 employees, and St. Lawrence County NYSARC with 628 employees.

Walmart, Kinney Drugs and Price Chopper stores also provide hundreds of jobs to St. Lawrence County residents, but did not respond to requests for employee numbers. However, based on estimates, none made the list of top ten employers.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort just across county border in Hogansburg, employs approximately 900 people, and about half of those employees are St. Lawrence County residents.

When counted as a whole, New York State would be the largest provider of jobs as it encompasses, transportation workers, correctional officers, troopers and a variety of other public sector jobs.