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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHIEF RETAINED FOR NEXT YEAR

The Alden Town Board this week voted to retain Scott Winner as economic development director for another year. The Village Board did likewise earlier this month.

Winner was hired last year through a cooperative effort of the Alden Chamber of Commerce, the village and the town. Each pays a portion of the salary for the part-time position.

Each contributes $5,000 for a total of $15,000 a year to fund economic development efforts. Winner is paid $13,596, with the rest of the funds going to office and travel expenses.

Speaking by phone from Brockport, where he does similar work, Winner on Thursday said he will continue to focus on attracting a major retail operation to the community to replace the closed Ames store on Broadway.

Residents from many of the surrounding rural communities shopped at the Ames store, and the closing and loss of tax revenue from Ames is a major reason the village has increased the tax rate by 4 percent this year, village officials said.

Since coming on the job, Winner said, he has initiated discussions and contacts with several retail companies about coming to Alden, although not necessarily into the old Ames store.

He said he's keeping the nature of the discussions confidential at this point but added that interest in Alden has increased and he has made tremendous progress.

"There is clearly a domino effect that we're looking to initiate," he said. "We're trying to set up circumstances to make Alden appear very favorable (to come in), and I think we've gone a long way to establish that. Once you get that first significant player into place, the others tend to follow."

Winner said the next year or two look very promising.

"I'm not sure you can see the tangible results yet," said Beth Downing, village administrator and treasurer, "but there's a lot of groundwork laid down. We didn't think we'd see something this soon, but it will happen in a few years. We think it's worth it."

"I'm optimistic, more so than I was at this time last year," said Town Supervisor Richard Savage.

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