February 17, 2016

Media outlet pulls city funding application

Staff Reporter

An online news outlet requesting small business funding has pulled its application amid calls for the city to reject the request, netting an extra bit of money for three other local businesses seeking assistance.
During its Jan. 5 meeting, the city Common Council began considering applications from four local businesses seeking funding to start up or assist with their business operations via the city’s Microenterprise Assistance Program.
One application was submitted by Peter Blanchard, editor and founder of the Cortland Voice, a local news website that launched early last year and is partnered with Ithaca Voice.
At that meeting, John Eves, owner of the WXHC radio station in Homer, objected to having the media outlet receive the money. He called it a conflict of interest, arguing that the Cortland Voice would be compromised when covering the city.
Following Eves’ comments, Blanchard’s application was tabled for further review, but the other three applications were approved:
• Tim Davis received $28,275 to open a Mason jar-themed store called Mason’s Patent that will sell jars and related accessories in the Cortland Corset Building on East Court Street.
• Michele Andersen, owner of Andersen’s Swap Shop at 150 Main St., received $22,500 to start her Bark, Bath and Beyond dog grooming salon and retail store at that location.
• Stacey Anne Goldyn-Moller, owner of Magpie Handcrafted Treasures, received $22,500 to put into her business, which is also located in the Cortland Corset Building.
Following the January meeting, Blanchard has maintained news outlets receiving government funding are not uncommon, and stated that reporting by the Cortland Voice would not compromised.
However, at Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Brian Tobin announced that Blanchard had decided to withdraw his application, and that the city would be reallocating the $18,125 he would have received to the other three businesses.
“Originally, there were three (businesses) that were granted microenterprise funds from the city, and there was a fourth that was under consideration,” he said. “So the money that could have gone to the fourth, the recombination is that the money is reallocated to the other three.”
Davis will now receive a total of $35,000, and Andersen and Goldyn-Moller will each receive a total $28,200 to put into their businesses.
After the meeting, Blanchard said he reached the conclusion to withdraw his application after speaking with colleagues at the Ithaca Voice. He explained how the Ithaca Voice began as a nonprofit, and how the Cortland Voice would be forfeiting that designation were it to accept city funding.
“We discussed it and came to the conclusion that there may be future Voice outlets,” he said. “We felt that in order to maintain consistency and to further our mission of providing news in the public interest, that it would be best for the Cortland Voice and potential future news outlets under that umbrella to all be nonprofit.”
Blanchard added that he is not giving up and plans to explore other avenues for funding.
“We’re going to continue to pursue other funding opportunities, where available,” he said.

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