State to Collaborate With Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Downtown Oswego
Central New York Project Will Transform Downtown Oswego, Create Jobs and Boost Local Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Downtown Oswego was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Central New York. 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 plan aligns with “Central NY Rising” – the region’s successful Upstate Revitalization Initiative blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.
The winner was selected as part of a competitive process by the state’s Central New York 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.
“New York is working to generate opportunity in every corner of this state and with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are building on that progress,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this funding, we are giving Oswego the opportunity to invest in its rich historical, cultural and scenic assets and transform its downtown into an economic anchor for the entire Central New York community. This is another exciting chapter in the economic revitalization of upstate and we will continue our work to keep Central New York rising.”
“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.”
The City of Oswego
With assets that include a scenic waterfront location, compact and walkable downtown, rich cultural history and anchor institutions such as SUNY Oswego, Oswego Health and the Port of Oswego Authority, Oswego is well-positioned for a transformation into a regionally competitive area while maintaining its small town charm. Under the DRI, Oswego will focus on catalytic projects in the downtown that will leverage significant private investment and provide new housing opportunities, mixed-use development, a business incubator, commercial/retail development and community services.
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.
“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.
For applicants, the CFA is available at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/; and the 2016 REDC Guidebook and list of available resources can be found at www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
Senator Patty Ritchie said, “From the renovation of Hotel Syracuse, to attracting top talent and big business, state investment in our region is leveraging important growth. With this investment, we are maximizing our potential and ensuring Oswego remains an economically viable city. This is a bright moment for our city and a major step toward encouraging businesses to relocate to Oswego, and attract visitors to come, shop and discover what makes our region so special. I thank the Governor for his leadership and I look forward to working together to move this region forward.”
Mayor William Barlow said, “Downtown Oswego holds promise for becoming the foundation for an active, diverse and desirable area to live and work in Central New York. With this $10 million, we are poised to build on our city’s strengths, such as its core academic and business institutions, and un-tap our city’s enormous potential for economic and cultural growth. I thank Governor Cuomo for his vision to bring a renewed energy to the region and I look forward to where this project will take us next.”
Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner said: “I commend Governor Cuomo for his commitment to revitalizing downtowns throughout the state. With this $10 million award, we have the unique opportunity to transform our downtown area into a thriving economic and cultural hub and to attract both visitors and residents alike to the heart of this city. By building on our health care industry and our academic and cultural vigor, we are putting Oswego on a path forward. I congratulate everyone for their hard work in winning this award, and look forward to working with my partners in state and local government to build the new Downtown Oswego.”
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