State to Collaborate With Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Downtown Geneva
Finger Lakes Project Will Transform Downtown Geneva, Create Jobs and Boost Local Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Downtown Geneva was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the Finger Lakes region. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, first laid out in the Governor’s 2016 State of the State address, marks a comprehensive plan to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work.
The winner was selected as part of a competitive process by the state’s Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and will receive $10 million in state funding to revitalize the local neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth and prosperity. The award will include up to $300,000 in planning funds for private sector experts to work with a local planning committee to draft a Strategic Investment Plan that will identify specific economic development, transportation, and housing and community projects. The grant is part of a $100 million effort to improve the urban vitality of city centers across the state. Plans will be completed by early 2017.
“Over the past six years, our Regional Councils have played an integral role in generating economic opportunity in communities across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will build on that momentum by investing in local assets to attract jobs, private investment and transform downtown areas into vibrant, diverse and economically active hubs. This investment will bolster Geneva’s growing job market and businesses district and continue the city’s economic renaissance for years to come.”
The City of Geneva
Over the last decade, Geneva has emerged as a major employment center, boasting over 200 firms and nearly 1,500 jobs in the central business district alone. Geneva’s historic walkable downtown is poised to become a vibrant retail, dining, cultural and entertainment destination for the burgeoning workforce and for students at the three local colleges. Under the DRI, the City will focus on the rehabilitation of key buildings; diversification of housing and retail options; access to healthy food; and building entrepreneurship in the downtown area.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is chaired by former New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, along with a team of planners from the Department of State and private sector experts, with support from Empire State Development, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and other state agencies.
Each Regional Council weighed seven criteria in selecting their nominee:
- The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
- The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizeable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
- The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and 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 contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces
- The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, complete streets plans, or transit-oriented development; and
- Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
“Governor Cuomo's unprecedented Downtown Revitalization Initiative acknowledges that thriving urban centers are key to changing attitudes and bringing people back to our communities," said Regional Economic Development Chair Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “I have seen first-hand how revitalizing one downtown can be transformative for an entire region. With support from the Regional Council, that's exactly what we expect will happen here.”
“I congratulate these communities for their tremendous efforts and winning proposal,” said New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “These areas are ripe for revitalization and this initiative will make these neighborhoods more livable and attract new residents, workers and visitors to the downtown, providing opportunity for job creation and economic growth. The Department of State is looking forward to working with the winning downtowns, many of whom we have shared successes with in years past.”
“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is another example of Governor Cuomo’s innovative approach to economic development,” said James S. Rubin, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. “By building on existing assets, including high-quality housing that incorporates retail and other conveniences for people at a variety of income levels, we will help downtowns reach their full potential as attractive, affordable places to live and work. Congratulations to the 10 communities that put their best foot forward to win this funding. I look forward to seeing the results.”
“It was a pleasure working with all of the Regional Economic Development Councils throughout this community-driven process,” said Cesar A. Perales, Chair of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. “The REDC members had a very difficult task in making their selections among the many strong candidates in each region. My thanks to the REDCs and my congratulations to the winning communities.”
Regional Economic Development Councils
Round VI of the REDC initiative will award more than $750 million in state funding and tax incentives. In 2016, all 10 REDCs will be competing for a designation as a Top Performer. Five Top Performers will be selected and will receive up to $25 million in Empire State Development Capital Grant funding, with the remaining five regions receiving up to $10 million. Additionally, each region will be eligible for up to $15 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow businesses in the region.
Regional Council priorities in 2016 include:
- Support the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Plan, and begin to identify priority projects in the defined community;
- Implementing strategies through the project pipeline;
- Training the workforce for today and tomorrow; and
- Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan and CFA projects.
By incentivizing the implementation of the strategic plans, Regional Councils, businesses, educational institutions, local governments, not-for-profit groups and other stakeholders are further motivated to work together to accomplish the regional vision. While project funding will be awarded to all 10 Regional Councils through the 2016 CFA, the competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies. Encouraging genuine cooperation among the REDCs and representatives of the community is critical to achieving economic development success.
In addition to the $10 million available to the winning Downtown Revitalization Initiative communities, state agencies will be awarding priority points through the CFA to additional downtown revitalization projects designed to transform communities ripe for development into vibrant, thriving neighborhoods.
Additionally, potential applicants from regions that were awarded $500 million through last year’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative are encouraged to submit CFAs in Round VI, as all three regions are full participants in this year’s REDC competition.
The deadline for CFA submissions is Friday, July 29th at 4 p.m.
Senator Mike Nozzolio said, “Over the past few years, Geneva’s downtown has seen tremendous economic development. Under the Governor’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we now we have the opportunity to expand on this growth and continue to move this city forward. This $10 million investment will further energize and revitalize our downtown area, and transform it into a hub of economic opportunity for businesses and residents throughout our surrounding communities. I thank the Governor for ensuring that Geneva remains a gem of the Finger Lakes and I look forward to seeing our progress in years to come.”
Geneva Mayor Ronald L. Alcock said, “Geneva’s downtown area is not only its most central business district but a major employer of the city’s residents. This award is a critical investment that will bolster our city’s job growth, promote diversity and entrepreneurship, and transform Geneva into an economic engine for the entire Finger Lakes region. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to witnessing the coming transformation of our city as we move forward.”
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman said, “Thanks to the continued attention and commitment of Governor Cuomo and the tireless efforts of our colleagues on the Regional Council we are making great strides to secure this city’s reputation as a viable source of economic opportunity for the entire region. This plan will focus on our region’s assets, like its talented workforce and world-class educational institutions to continue driving growth and opportunity and make Geneva an economic engine. We thank Governor Cuomo for his vision and are proud to be a part of this important initiative.”
Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chair Jack Marren said, “Today we are taking a critical step towards transforming Downtown Geneva into a thriving and vibrant economic center of our city. This $10 million investment will help to generate jobs, attract investment and develop key industries to ensure this city remains a viable source of economic opportunity for residents and visitors for years to come. I thank the Governor Cuomo and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for recognizing this city’s potential and I look forward to what we can achieve.”
Hobart & William Smith President Mark Gearan said, “I congratulate the City of Geneva on its successful application and extend my gratitude to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the State of New York, and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for providing these important resources that will add to the vibrancy of downtown Geneva. I was proud to join City Manager Matt Horn and Director of Neighborhood Initiatives Sage Gerling in making the case to the selection panel. Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a strong collaboration with the City of Geneva and appreciate being able to house important administrative departments downtown. This award will continue the work of the entire community, making Geneva a wonderful place to work, live, visit and study.”