Schenectady County

Downtown Schenectady group names new director

The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. hired a new executive director today to further promote t
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The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. hired a new executive director today to further promote the resurgent business district, officials said.

James Salengo will join the organization May 5, becoming its third executive director since 2000. He is director of communications for the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District.

DSIC President Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas said Salengo will promote downtown as a premier location for commerce, recreation and living.

“The revitalization of downtown Schenectady is off and running, but we’re not done yet,” she said.

Salengo was selected from among 42 candidates who applied for the position and will earn $55,000 to $75,000, said DSIC Vice President Richard Antokol.

“He was the only candidate with executive experience in a business improvement district,” Antokol said.

Salengo also brings expertise in other key areas on which the DSIC wants its new executive director to focus, he said. The DSIC board sought a candidate with skills in budget development and finance; business development, retention and recruitment; marketing and publications; fundraising and grant writing; and volunteer recruitment and development.

“We are looking at the long-term task of running downtown as a going concern. That is a different set of skills, and Jim brings those skills,” Antokol said. “We have an enormous opportunity right now because much of the reconstruction downtown has been completed and we are now pivoting from how to jump start, restart, reinvigorate a downtown, which was the task for the last five to seven years, to how do you run a downtown.”

With the Albany BID since 2003, Salengo helped created the marketing campaign “Downtown Albany: Worth Discovering Since 1609,” according to a DSIC news release. The American Marketing Association awarded its Mark of Excellence Award to the campaign in 2005.

Salengo moved to the Capital Region in 1990 and lived for five years in Schenectady.

“I have watched the remarkable transformation of downtown Schenectady over the last several years with pride and admiration,” he said.

Prior to joining the Albany BID, he worked 13 1/2 years for WMHT, serving as its main on-air spokesman and as director of television programming.

The DSIC receives funding through the Downtown Schenectady Assessment District and the Metroplex Development Authority. The district collects approximately $230,000 annually from 600 downtown property owners. Metroplex Development provides it with a $150,000 operating grant, plus between $200,000 and $300,000 per year for facade grants. The organization also raises $40,000 through events.

The DSIC uses the assessment money to clean and beautify sidewalks, promote downtown businesses and other activities.

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