Welcome Center Will Open in Geneva in Spring 2018 - Renderings Available Here
DRI Modernizes Infrastructure, Improves Pedestrian Access and Develops Public Marina; Installs Open Access Fiber-Optic Broadband Infrastructure to Catalyze Economic Development
Revitalizes Blighted Properties in Downtown Geneva into Vibrant New Developments and Boosts Local Economy
Project Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" – The Region’s Successful Blueprint to Grow the Economy and Create New Opportunities
This afternoon, Governor Cuomo announced the winning projects selected for the City of Geneva in New York as part of the state’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI aims to transform local neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family. Working together with state agencies and the Regional Economic Development Council, the City of Geneva built a strategic investment plan with catalytic downtown projects consistent with the initiative’s goals.
Governor Cuomo also unveiled renderings of the new Finger Lakes Welcome Center in Geneva, Ontario County. The Welcome Center, one of 10 being built throughout the state, advances the Governor’s commitment to continue growing the tourism industry statewide by promoting local attractions, foods, craft beverages and other destinations. Work on the Finger Lakes Welcome Center is expected to begin after Labor Day and be open to visitors next spring. The Governor unveiled the designs in a PowerPoint presentation available here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below.
Thank you very, very much. It is my pleasure to be back. I just hope you guys appreciate what a really magnificent spot you have, and you never take it for granted. I mean every time I come it is just so magnificent in so many ways. So it is truly my pleasure to be back. Matt Horn, who’s doing a great job, let’s give him a round of applause. We have my colleagues from Albany, Senator Helming who’s here. It’s a pleasure to be with you. Former colleague who’s a great professional and a gentleman, Mike Nozzolio, a pleasure to be with you. The greatest Lieutenant Governor in the world, Bob Duffy. That includes my father there, Bob, he was lieutenant. I better abridge that- second greatest! To Howard Zemsky, who’s a mastermind. He runs all the economic development programs in the state of New York and used to be a funny guy. He was, he had a great sense of humor. Something happened, I don’t know actually what. But I said to him today, I said, "You know, you used to be funny. What happened?" He said, "I think I’m spending too much time with you, Governor." I really don’t know what he meant by that, but I’m sure it was a shot. But, he may not be funny but he is great at economic development, so let’s give him a round of applause.
Danny Wegman, who’s a pillar in the community, he’s been masterful on the Regional Economic Development Council. He does so much for so many and he asks for so little, Danny Wegman, it’s a pleasure to be with you. We have Ginny Clark from the New York Wine and Culinary Center, which has been very helpful with this facility. Let’s give her a round of applause. And Mark Gearan, who you’re going to hear from in a moment, Mark and I, I don’t want to tell you how many years we go back because I look as old as I am; he doesn’t. But we go back many, many years, and when I first met him we were working in the federal government. And you know sometimes when you meet a person and when you meet the person you say, "This is a special human being?” The first time you meet Mark Gearan you say, "This is a special human being." And what he has done for the entire state, he was a great college president, but nobody ever doubted that. But more than that, he’s been great for the entire region. He’s been great for the state. It’s a tremendous loss. And why he would want to go to that other state, how do you pronounce that? Massachusetts? Why you would want to go there I have no theory. But I’m sure he’s going to miss home and he’s going to come back right away, but, Mark, thank you very very much for everything. And let me talk to you a little bit about today’s topic, but you’ve heard it from Matt, you’ve heard it from Howard.
We had a good session in the state because we focus on the basics. We focus on the essentials, and the best thing the state government can do is get the economy running. That is the single, best thing that the state government can do. And when it comes at the state-level to get the economy running, it’s not really a complicated equation. It’s a relatively simple equation, but then you have to implement the equation. Most equations in life are simple. "I want to lose weight." Intake fewer calories and burn more. Not a hard equation but it's very hard to do on a day to day basis. I want to make the state business friendly. It's very simple, reduce taxes, develop business incentives, work with regions in local communities to provide incentives to business. It’s very simple to say, but it’s very hard to do, why? Because governments like to spend money. People like to spend money. I have three young ladies at home who really love to spend money. But that’s a different topic. The legislature loves to spend money and there’s a lot of good things you can spend money on. So, if you want to tax less you have to spend less. So you have to get spending under control.
Our government, Bob Duffy was Lieutenant Governor for the first four years, our government has had the lowest increase in state spending in recorded history. Now think about that for a second because a lot of you are sitting there saying, "Well hold on a second. That's a Democrat and I think Democrats like to spend money. How can you say that when Democrats spend more than everybody else?" Sometimes labels can be misleading. Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, spending year to year went up 11 percent. Governor Hugh Carey, governor for 12 years, a Democrat, spending went up year to year about seven percent. Mario Cuomo, God rest his soul. 12 years, spending went up year to year 6 percent. Then you had a Republican conservative, George Pataki, spending went up year to year five percent. Seven years, spending has gone up, under me, with Bob and Kathy Hochul, two percent a year. Two percent a year. When you spend less, then you can tax less.
Everybody pays a lower tax rate today than they did seven years ago. Without an inflation, without an adjustment, just in absolute dollars it hasn't gone up a penny in seven years and as a matter of fact, it's gone down. We have the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947, the lowest corporate rate since 1968, lowest manufacturing tax rate since 1917. Last time it was zero. So taxes are down across the board and we've invested in economic development. The result is we have more private sector jobs today in this state than ever existed in the history of the state of New York. Period. And that's the proof that's in the pudding. Because if you're creating private sector jobs, if the machine is running, then people have hope, people have careers, then young people stay, then they pay taxes, then the mayor can run the city, the County Executive's going to run the counties. It's all about jobs development. In the meantime, we've been rebuilding the state for the greatest investment in construction that has been done in modern political history. $100 billion.
Why? Because Vice President Biden was right and President Trump is right when they say the nation is falling apart and we haven't done anything about the infrastructure. They're right. Last time we built an airport in this country. How many years ago do you think the last time we built an airport in this country? Not since the 90s have we built an airport. We want to fly all over the world and you see state of the art airports and then you fly to New York and you land at LaGuardia. Talk about a shock. The roads are crumbling. The bridges are crumbling. When was the last time you built a bridge? We haven't. We're building the largest infrastructure project in the nation – the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is across the Hudson River, which they talked about for 20 years. So $100 billion. New LaGuardia Airport, new JFK Airport, new train station across the street from Penn Station. New airport in Rochester, new airport in Syracuse, new airport in Elmira, new airport in Plattsburgh.
Rebuilding more than any state in the United States of America. That's what we're doing here in New York. So we're creating jobs and it's not just downstate and Matt Horn is right. The state government in Albany for a long time was myopic. They could only look south. All they saw was New York City. Why? Well, because most of them were from New York City. That’s where the majority of the legislators come from. The legislator’s instinct is I want to do good things for my home district. When you have most of them from New York City, they all focused on New York City. That was where the jobs were, that’s where was developing wealth and upstate New York had the short end of the stick.
The way I got Bob Duffy to leave Rochester and come be Lieutenant Governor as he was always complaining every time I saw him. “Rochester, I can’t get any attention, Albany doesn’t know where Rochester is on a map.” I was the Attorney General, I said, “You’re right.” I was then running for Governor and said, “Do you want to fix it? You can’t fix it from Rochester, come to Albany, bring a map, we’ll show them!” There’s something called upstate New York. By the way, it’s upstate New York that is suffering. And you want to talk about help and loss of jobs? It’s upstate New York. I’m proud to say we’ve invested over $30 billion in upstate New York, more than any administration in recorded history, period.
When Bob complains, well we did a lot of work, drove a lot of miles, when he started the unemployment rate in the Finger Lakes was 7.5 percent and today it’s 4.6 percent. So that’s what we did on the statewide level. You really want to get the economy going, you can’t just do it on the state level. You then go to the regional level. You get the region to work together. That’s what Matt was talking about, that’s what Bob Duffy has been doing, that’s what Danny Wegman has been doing, Regional Economic Development Council. Because the economies work in regions now. How do you come together as a region and develop that regional economy? How do you invest in tourism, which is a big economic driver for upstate New York? Upstate New York was an untold story. The beauty, the geography, the history, the wineries. We spend $200 million in the I Love New York campaign, $200 million. A lot of money. Internationally, tourism dollars up went up $15 billion with the $200 million investment because when they see it, they love it.
We’ve been investing in wineries and breweries and we changed the law. When my father was governor, there were 10 wineries in the state of New York. Today, there are 400. When we started, there were 70 breweries, today there are 220. Wine tours, beer tours, driving tourism all across upstate New York. So investing in upstate New York – but getting the regions to work together. Saying to the Finger Lakes, “You’re not separate cities and towns and villages and in Geneva, you can’t do it by yourself. You have to work with the county, you have to work with the surrounding areas because it all works in a region.” Then to drill down even further, you say that the towns themselves come up with a comprehensive plan for your own town, fitting into that region, and that then is the trifecta. A state plan that’s working, a regional plan that’s working, and a local plan that’s working on the local level. That’s what our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is all about.
We did it as a challenge. We said to localities all across the state, “You can compete for a grant.” We did over 120, over 120 applications for 10 winners statewide. People said, “Well that’s very tough, 110, 20 applications, only 10 winners.” We said we wanted to invest in the best. The competition makes people work. Matt Horn hears, “Oh, there’s a 120 applications and there are only 10 winners – we better get to work.” And it worked, and we got 10 great plans and Geneva was one of them. So as Howard Zemsky said, congratulations on the good work that you did.
But that was the promise that Matt Horn talked about. I promised you would get $10 million bucks, if on the promise, you get $10 million if you come up with a specific plan on how to use the money and we accept the specific plan because it’s smart and it’s about restoring the community and generating jobs and that is exactly what you did. You came up with a plan, 12 projects that are innovative, that are feasible, that are going to happen and are going to transform Geneva. $2.2 million to improve pedestrian access to Seneca Lake across Routes 5 and 20, the water is asset. The water is the asset. Improve access to the water because that is the magnet that is driving people and that’s what you did. And make those thorough fair human and passable. 1.75 million for streetscape improvements. People come to Geneva because it’s beautiful. Make it more beautiful. Make it more breathtaking. And that’s exactly what you plan to do. The history is a great asset of Upstate New York. And we’re losing it all too quickly. It’s all too easy to knock down a building and build new. $900 thousand to revitalize the historic Dove Block building so you have the beauty, you have nature and you have your history at the same time.
Use the water. The downtown public marina. Get ahead of the curve, solar power, smaller units, that’s exactly what the Lake Tunnel Solar Village is. It is visionary and we applaud you. Patent Block building on the retail corridor, bringing more retail, more activity, keep that streetscape as a continuum and current. Rebuild the Five-Point Intersection. An historic preservation fund in Geneva of $600,000. $475,000 to revitalize the vacant theater into the Twisted Rail Brewery, creating more than a dozen jobs. $183,000 to modernize the Smith Opera House.
$150,000 to bring broadband into downtown, which is essential. We have a statewide plan to do high speed broadband in every corner of the state in 2 years. High speed broadband is a necessity. You want people to vacation, you want businesses to come, you need it and Geneva is getting ahead of it. And $142,000 for new Gateway sign proclaiming how proud you are and that people have arrived. Congratulations. It’s a smart plan and it’s approved.
And that’s not all. We’re also going to take this beautiful Finger Lakes Welcome Center and we are going to transform that into an overall tourism center. We currently have 28,000 vehicles that are coming in. It is a perfect location for a full service Geneva visitor center. As I said, tourism is the greatest economic boost we have in Upstate New York and I think we can do even more. We’re going to convert this to a 5,500 square foot state of the art Finger Lakes tourism hub. A welcome center which will feature interactive I love New York kiosks with video and signage. We’re doing it in partnership with the New York Wine and Culinary Center. We’re exploring options for a Taste New York store that highlights New York products. New York wine, beer, cheese, dairy, etc.
Tourism upgrades that will be a tourism center directing people to tourism activities all across the region. And a variety of tourism activities that we have, showcasing information on the world class destination and historic sites. Our tourism opportunities, our agricultural opportunities. It’s going to be very attractive on the inside, with wine and water imagery. Strong Museum of Play in Rochester developing plans for a children outdoor play area. The City of Geneva and New York Wine and Culinary Center will also be able to utilize the 5,500 square foot center for a nominal fee. Alright, forget the nominal fee.
For future economic opportunity, we’re also going to redo the front plaza, the rear plaza, there’s going to be a water feature, a pet area, electric car charging stations. It’s going to close down in September, it’s going to open in late spring in 2018.
We want to have a special thanks to the New York Wine and Culinary Center, Robert Sands and Ginny Clark. But we believe it is another smart investment, and New York is going to put in $5 million to make this a reality. So congratulations to you Geneva. I know it’s been a long few years, but you have a comprehensive redevelopment plan that you put together, that works for you, that builds on your assets, and New York State is proud to invest $15 million because I know Geneva with dividends.
Congratulations and God bless you.