State to Collaborate with North Country Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Potsdam's Downtown
Part of Governor's Comprehensive Approach to Transform Communities into Vibrant Neighborhoods and Boost Local Economies
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Village of Potsdam will receive $10 million in funding as the North Country winner of the fourth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. As in the first three rounds of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions is selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family.
"With the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we see the positive impacts that strategic investments can have on strengthening local economies across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "The Village of Potsdam serves as a major educational and commercial center for the North Country, and this funding will further help rejuvenate a key part of that center."
"Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is about more than just a physical change - it's about creating a psychological shift in communities across New York," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With this targeted investment, Potsdam will be able to invest in projects to strengthen local assets and advance regional priorities. The DRI is part of our ongoing commitment to create a brighter economic future and enhance quality of life in the North Country and every region statewide."
The commercial core of the Village of Potsdam blends historic structures with 21st century education offerings, serving as a hub for commerce, higher education, health care and the arts. Over more than three decades, Potsdam has set the wheels in motion for transformational development by creating a strong sense of place, facilitating the development of downtown residential options, supporting both small businesses and large educational institutions, and enhancing waterfront parks, access, and recreational opportunities. Potsdam has now set its sights on charting a course that balances the preservation of historic and natural resources with economic development. The DRI award will advance its preservation efforts, prominence in the arts, streetscape and waterfront improvements, and support for traditional and new technology businesses to create a mixed-use downtown where nature and culture coexist.
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council went through a competitive review process of proposals from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Potsdam as its nominee for winner:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- 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.
Potsdam's fourth-round DRI win entitles the village to receive $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth. Potsdam now joins the Cities of Plattsburgh and Watertown and the Village of Saranac Lake, which were the North Country's winners in the first three DRI rounds, respectively.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "The DRI funding will leverage downtown Potsdam's walkability and existing assets—its historic buildings, businesses and cultural spaces—to support transformative projects for revitalizing this village center that will encourage new investments, community development and regional economic growth."
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has helped dozens of downtowns across the state and has created positive change in communities around New York. Today it is Potsdam's turn to be a winner of a grant to fund important projects that will make the city an economic hub for the northern region. Thanks to Governor Cuomo Potsdam will grow into a future anchored by a revitalized downtown where residents and business can live and prosper."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is giving communities like Potsdam the resources they need to pursue innovative projects to rejuvenate their downtowns and grow their economies. With this $10 million investment, Governor Cuomo is showing his commitment to creating new opportunities for all New Yorkers and making the North Country a better place to live, work and visit."
Senator Joseph Griffo said, "I am pleased that Potsdam will be receiving a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and that the Governor recognizes the importance of investing in Upstate New York communities. This investment will help grow the local and regional economy, nurture job growth and drive economic development in Potsdam and the North Country."
Assembly Member Mark Walczyk said, "This is a win for Potsdam. These DRI funds will be essential in putting the Village in a position for continued growth, helping lure businesses to downtown, creating jobs and keeping Potsdam a great place to live, work and raise a family for years to come."
North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs James McKenna and Dr. Ty Stone said, "The Village of Potsdam developed a strong strategic plan that looks to capitalize on the history of its downtown buildings, along with its parks and waterfront access. On behalf of our fellow Council members, we offer our congratulations to the village and its residents."
St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Chair Joseph Lightfoot said, "The announcement this morning that the Village of Potsdam is the winner of this years $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative is great news for not only the village of Potsdam but for the whole of St. Lawrence County. The funding will provide the foundation for future long term economic growth of the Potsdam community and will have a positive influence on other current and potential endeavors that will be developed and brought to reality not only in Potsdam but County wide. I look forward to seeing the benefits that will result from the work of the Potsdam community and have faith that those benefits will have a wide ranging effect of the economy of St. Lawrence County."
Potsdam Mayor Reinhold Tischler said, "On behalf of the Village of Potsdam's Board of Trustees, our residents, business community, and institutional partners, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Governor Cuomo, Lt. Governor Hochul, and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for selecting Potsdam as the recipient of the 2019 Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This DRI process has challenged our community to dream big, and we have. Today those big dreams are coming true. This 10 million dollar grant will help us realize our transformational vision for the future of Potsdam. We did it! - Thank you!"
The Village of Potsdam 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 downtown Potsdam will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The downtown Potsdam 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 the DRI's fourth round will be complete in 2020.
More information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is available here.