Newspaper company gets $400,000 loan from economic developers

Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 4:06 PM EDT
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CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - The parent company of the Watertown Daily Times is getting a $400,000 loan from economic developers.

$100,000 of the money will come from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, with the balance of $300,00 from the North Country Economic Development Fund - a state fund set up as part of the negotiations which kept the Alcoa plant in Massena. The fund is administered through the Development Authority of the North Country.

“We wanted to make sure that we were reaching out to them as an employer of over 30 people in St. Lawrence County -- to make sure if there was a way we could help that we were there," said Patrick Kelly, the head of St. Lawrence County’s Industrial Development Agency.

Watertown Daily Times parent company Johnson Newspaper Corporation employs 35 full-timers in the county. It also has about a dozen part-timers and 30 contract employees.

“This working capital helps us maintain jobs across multiple locations in St. Lawrence County," said John B. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Newspaper Corp.

The company has a modern printing press in Massena, and employs journalists and others in Canton as well.

“There’s the history of the company," Kelly said. "There’s the fact that the facility in Massena is relatively modern and new, when you look at news printing operations. There’s the jobs.”

Like most newspapers, the Watertown Times has struggled in recent years. In June, the company closed four newspapers, cut jobs and ended the Monday print edition of the Times.

The company is one of a handful of local, family-owned newspapers left in the state. Johnson said the loan will help the company transition to its new digital strategy. The company has launched a new web site, and for the first time is charging for access to it.

“It is my intent and my plan and my deepest hope to maintain family-owned local journalism in Upstate New York,” Johnson said.

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