TICONDEROGA — With dwindling funds, the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance has been forced to lay off Chief Executive Officer J. Justin Woods.
Woods, who was hired in September 2011 at an annual salary of about $90,000 plus benefits, is leaving on Aug. 31.
He said Monday he is using vacation time until then, and will only rarely be in the organization’s offices on Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga.
“As a result of a funding shortfall, I have moved on to pursue other opportunities,” Woods said in an email.
Alliance Board of Directors Chairman James Major said in a emailed statement that they’d hoped to do fundraising and grant writing to fund Woods’s position.
“The Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance is in the process of reorganizing to better serve the community, while working within a more sustainable financial structure. Unfortunately, the challenge of fundraising and capitalizing a new nonprofit during a global economic crisis has proved to be more difficult than we imagined.
“We are sad to announce that the result of our funding shortfall is the inability to sustain the salary of our CEO, J. Justin Woods, who has been working diligently to establish economic-development and cultural-arts programs.”
The alliance was founded by Alex Levitch, who did community and business fundraising to get the privately funded economic-development organization started.
“The task we charged Justin with was large,” Levitch said in a statement. “He brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in community and economic development, and we greatly appreciate his dedication over the past year.”
Woods, who came to the job after almost four years as city planner for the City of Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County, said he had hoped to settle in Ticonderoga.
“I greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with the business community and all of Ti’s organizations,” he said. “With limited government support and increasing competition for grants, the funding challenges nonprofits are faced with is sizable. Fortunately, the grassroots energy and passion for revitalizing Ti is strong, and this energy will generate the momentum needed to continue as a more sustainable operating plan is developed.”
TIME TO REGROUP
Also gone is Elizabeth “Betsy” Lowe of Lake Placid, who had been contracted as the alliance’s director of strategic partnerships and fundraising. She is the former Region 5 director of the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The other three other alliance staff members, including Cornell University graduate student Anne Flusche, who joined the organization recently to do planning, will also be leaving when their contracts are up at end of the month.
The Ti Alliance is a nonprofit local development corporation whose stated mission is to restore economic prosperity in the Ticonderoga region. It had started hosting community events, including a recent performance by the Lake Placid Sinfonietta.
Alliance Board member Sanford Morehouse said in an email that this will be a time for them to regroup.
“We are disappointed that we can no longer afford Justin; his experience and guidance was instrumental in getting us to where we are today,” he wrote. “We all learned a lot from his experience, and we now have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned over the past year and develop a more sustainable business plan.”
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