December 13, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Success of Mohawk Valley Regional Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Success of Mohawk...

Community Development Experts, Local Elected Officials and Business Leaders to Share Economic Growth Strategies in the Mohawk Valley

Handbook for Local Governments and Nonprofits Serves as One-Stop-Shop Resource For State Grants And Programs – Available at:


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the success of the state’s ninth regional sustainability conference, which brought together over 400 community development experts, local elected officials and business leaders to share successful economic growth strategies in the Mohawk Valley. The conference is part of a statewide effort to boost awareness of resources available to local governments and nonprofit organizations to help create sustainable communities across New York. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul hosted the conference at Hotel Utica in downtown Utica, where she highlighted a handbook that serves as a one-stop-shop resource for State grants – providing context and web links to the complete list of more than 100 innovative funding programs.

"All across New York, communities that had been stuck in decades of decline are now being revitalized thanks to the state's new approach to economic development that focuses on regional assets and attracting new industries." Governor Cuomo said. "These conferences help ensure this success continues by leveraging the expertise of regional leaders and stakeholders to make the Mohawk Valley more livable, more diverse and more sustainable for generations to come."

"Governor Cuomo has proven how critical sustainable principles and strategic investments are to the growth of a region, and we have seen this here in the Mohawk Valley and across the State.” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Thanks to the Governor's leadership and vision, we continue to invest in creating and protecting jobs, jumpstarting new industries and strengthening New York’s urban and rural communities. The progress is undeniable and these conferences are key in building off those successes."

The Sustainable Development & Collaborative Governance Conference draws on then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo's 1999 conference, "Bridging the Divide: Making Regions Work for Everyone: Shaping the Federal Agenda," which invited experts and academics in regionalism, smart growth and urban revitalization to present their ideas, followed by panel discussions among a diverse group of stakeholders.

Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State is prioritizing cross-collaboration between state agencies, local governments and community partners to maximize the collective impact of their efforts. The Mohawk Valley is a prime example of this bottom-up approach that has shown its success through the Regional Economic Development Councils.

To date, New York State has invested more than $1.8 billion in the Mohawk Valley helping to advance the region's goals. As of October of this year, total number of private sector jobs in the Mohawk Valley region stands at 148,700. The region's unemployment rate has dropped significantly as well – moving from 7.7 percent in October 2010 to 4.7 percent during the same time this year.

At the collaborative governance conference, speakers and panel discussions examined case studies, shared best practices and discussed examples of how New York State will continue to serve as a partner in creating sustainable, integrated communities and boosting bottom-up economic development efforts. Two sustainable development experts delivered keynote addresses:

  • Shereburne "Shere" Abbott, Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives and University Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy at Syracuse University/NYSERDA Board member
  • Min Ye and Morten Sohlberg, Restaurateurs / Farmers, Blenheim Restaurant Group & Blenheim Hill Farm

Attendees included local elected officials, planners, economic development experts, housing advocates and more. The conference highlighted Governor Cuomo's commitment to mass transit and transit oriented development, as well as projects and investments in Long Island to build back better and stronger after Superstorm Sandy.

At the event, Lieutenant Governor Hochul announced that $2 million in planning grants will be made available through New York's Brownfield Opportunity Area Program to assist communities currently in the program in completing revitalization nominations for economically distressed areas that began under a previous grant. The Brownfield Opportunity Area program authorizes municipalities and community groups to pursue redevelopment and revitalization of economically distressed areas.

Other sustainability and development programs that have been initiated or reformed over the last six years under Governor Cuomo include:

  • Cleaner, Greener Regional Sustainability Plans
  • Regional Economic Development Councils
  • Land Bank Act to convert vacant properties
  • Legislation to combat zombie properties
  • Complete Streets design initiative
  • Upstate Revitalization Initiative
  • Hudson Valley Farmland Preservation and Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Programs
  • Clean Energy Communities
  • Brownfield Redevelopment Reform
  • Historic Preservation Tax Credit
  • Climate Smart Communities Grants
  • Community Risk and Resiliency Act

Syracuse University Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives and Sustainability Science Professor and NYSERDA Board member Shereburne "Shere" Abbott said, "Sustainability comes down to whether we can live within the means of the planet. Can we feed, house, nurture and employ the people today and then in the future, while preserving the earth's life support system. The Governor's Sustainable Development conferences provide a great forum in which to address the complex issue of Sustainability."

Min Ye and Morten Sohlberg of Blenheim Restaurant Group & Blenheim Hill Farm said, “Sustainable food systems bridge the Upstate/Downstate divide. Our farm-to-table restaurants and farm marry the best of Upstate's agricultural assets with the huge market for sustainable food downstate. The Governor's conferences recognize that sustainability is an issue that integrates the whole state."

Senator Joe Griffo said, "The 'new' New York we see emerging today -- a more diverse, resilient state -- can only grow stronger by tapping into our region’s leadership and expertise to build a smarter and more stable economy than ever before. Through the Governor’s Sustainable Development & Governance Conferences, we’ve seen innovative initiatives launched and growth strategies take shape all across the state. In the Mohawk Valley, we will continue this trend to ensure a healthy, active and sustainable economy for the future workers of this state."​

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said, "The Governor has positioned the state’s future as a strong, sustainable one – focused on clean and smart tech industries, and made possible by key collaborations with regional leaders, local elected officials, and other businesses stakeholders. Today’s conference will build on the Mohawk Valley’s successes, from downtown revitalization to the enhancement of our transportation infrastructure, to help create a robust economic climate that will continue to grow our communities for years to come."

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, “Working with Governor Cuomo, we are capitalizing on Mohawk Valley’s assets to boost the economy today, while laying a foundation for a successful tomorrow. This conference brought together leaders who have spearheaded successful projects in the past and who will continue to work with public and private stakeholders to ensure new initiatives that support a sustainable economy are implemented. I thank the Governor for shining light on these important issues and helping establish a game plan to implement solutions that will help grow our region’s economy.”​

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said, “Today’s sustainability conference brought the Mohawk Valley’s greatest minds in one room to work together to strategize and establish a strong platform for our communities to continue to grow and thrive. By improving our roads and bridges, investing in new technologies and emerging industries, and making our regional economies viable for the next generation, Governor Cuomo has helped establish kind of commitment and momentum needed to continue driving this region and this state forward.”

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, "As a result of the Governor’s transformative initiatives and building strong partnerships, there has been tremendous success in the Mohawk Valley region and the City of Utica. Today’s conference builds on the Governor’s historic investments in our region and puts our future at the forefront of conversations happening at both the local and state levels. By bringing together elected officials, local businesses and regional leaders, Utica and the rest of the region are poised for clean, smart growth that will lead to sustainable economy for our future generations."

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office