October 6, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces the City of Cortland as $10 Million Central New York Region Winner of Second-Round Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Governor Cuomo Announces the City of Cortland as $10 Million Central New York Region Winner of Second-Round Downtown Revitalization Initiative

State to Collaborate with Central New York Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize the City of Cortland's Downtown

Part of Governor's Comprehensive Approach to Transform Communities into Vibrant Neighborhoods and Boost Local Economies

Investment Complements "Central NY Rising" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the City of Cortland will receive $10 million in funding as the Central New York winner of the second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. As in the first round of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions will be selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities identify catalytic downtown projects to boost the local economy.

"New York continues to invest in our communities to attract the next generation of leaders and spur businesses development in downtowns across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding will bring new life to downtown Cortland and assisting in its transformation into an economic engine for the entire region."


The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council went through a competitive review process of proposals from communities throughout the region and considered eight criteria before recommending Watertown as its nominee for winner:

  • The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
  • The municipality, or the downtown's catchment area, should be of sufficient size to support a vibrant, year-round downtown;
  • The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
  • There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
  • The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, including existing residents, millennials and skilled workers;
  • The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
  • The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan; and
  • The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years.

Cortland's second-round DRI win entitles it to receive $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth. Cortland now joins the City of Oswego, which was the Central New York region's winner in the first DRI round.

"This funding will bring new life to downtown Cortland and assisting in its transformation into an economic engine for the entire region."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "The key to Cortland's future is a downtown that serves as a cultural, educational and economic hub for Central New York. With nearly 450 businesses within a half-mile of the center of downtown and more than 5,000 people working in and around the central business core, Cortland is poised to be a major driver of the Central NY Rising strategy for economic growth in this region."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) will bolster Cortland's economic future and aid in the development of the downtown business district. By working to attract jobs and private investment, the DRI is building momentum for Cortland and the region, helping Central New York to rise."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding will help invigorate Cortland's downtown, offering opportunities for job creation and economic growth, while also making the area more livable to keep existing residents and attract new ones. The Department of State will continue to work closely with communities across New York State to help develop their neighborhoods and downtowns."

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative helps breathe new life and bring new opportunities into cities like Cortland, putting them on a path to prosperity. This $10 million investment in Cortland is part of a strategic goal to harness the amazing assets of downtowns across the state—increasing access to housing, creating jobs and attracting cultural and recreational opportunities, and enriching and improving quality of life in the entire region."

Senator James L. Seward said, "Economic development across upstate New York has received a great deal of attention in recent years thanks to the shared commitment of Governor Cuomo and the legislature - and early returns on the state's investment are promising. The City of Cortland is a leader in our region's economic resurgence and winning the Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding is a testament to the great people and potential that exists here. This award is a critical investment in Cortland's future, and I look forward to seeing the imminent transformation that will lead to more new businesses, jobs, and greater opportunities throughout the region."

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, "It's been heartening to watch the growth that's happening in downtown Cortland, and this $10 million downtown revitalization grant will only further that success. The funding will be used to support development projects that help turn downtown Cortland into a vibrant hub of entertainment, arts, and hospitality. As downtown economies continue to feel pressure from the rise of online retailers, the Assembly Majority sees it as a priority to invest in downtown economies like Cortland's. I was glad to support this funding in the state budget, and I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his continued support of downtown revitalization throughout the state of New York."

"It is an honor to accept this award on behalf of the City of Cortland," said City of Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin. "We will take this opportunity, and find community partners to expand on what we've already accomplished. I appreciate the great work being done by the Regional Economic Development Council, and everyone here in Cortland who constantly works to ensure Cortland continues to be a great place to call home. We have tremendous leadership within our community- but we also have outstanding leadership at the State level. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his support and recognition of what we are doing locally, and his efforts to empower us to get the job done."

Community revitalization in Cortland is being ignited with over $535 million in new investment within a five-mile radius of Downtown over the past ten 10 and additional investments are underway or slated to start within six months. Cortland's downtown is the core of the Central Business district and is within walking distance to SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College. The area consists of 450 businesses within a half mile radius from the center of downtown, employing approximately 5,100 people making this area the largest employer in Cortland County.

As a gateway to both Central New York and the Finger Lakes, the City of Cortland is a magnet for hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. It also serves county residents and SUNY Cortland students as the primary shopping area in the county, consisting primarily of commercial and residential mixed-use attached buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Land currently used for surface parking could accommodate new development, creating a denser downtown with additional economic and property tax benefits. Cortland envisions new space for community activities and additional housing to accommodate an expanding residential and tourism population. The city plans to guide the redevelopment of its downtown through the expansion of the creative economy, building a complete downtown neighborhood, and re-imagining its infrastructure for the 21st century.

Cortland will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders, will lead the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The strategic investment plan for Cortland will examine local assets and opportunities, and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for the downtown and that are poised for implementation. The downtown Cortland Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for DRI's second round will be complete in early 2018.

Accelerating Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.

For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to: www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office


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