Herkimer to Receive $10 Million from Downtown Revitalization Initiative; Boonville and Richfield to Receive $4.5 Million Each from NY Forward
Downtown Revitalization Investments are a Critical Part of the State’s Comprehensive Economic Development and Community Growth Strategy
$100 Million NY Forward Program Builds on Momentum of the Successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to Support a More Equitable Downtown Recovery for New York’s Smaller and Rural Communities
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Herkimer will receive $10 million in funding as the Mohawk Valley Region winner of the seventh round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, as well as Boonville and Richfield as this year’s Mohawk Valley Region NY Forward winners, receiving $4.5 million each. For Round 7 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, each of the state's 10 economic development regions are being awarded $10 million, to make for a total state commitment of $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
Building on the momentum of the successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same "Plan-then-Act" strategy as the DRI, which couples strategic planning with immediate project implementation to support a more equitable downtown resurgence for New York's smaller and rural communities. With the Governor’s commitment last year of $100 million each for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, the State has now invested a combined total of $1 billion in both programs since their inception. The Governor has proposed another $100 million for each program, totaling $200 million, in her Fiscal Year 2025 Executive Budget.
“Through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, we are helping communities transform their downtowns and enact visions of hope that would otherwise be impossible,” Governor Hochul said. “This funding will support Herkimer, Boonville, and Richfield as they carry out their plans to enhance the quality of life for New Yorkers in their communities, draw visitors, and spur economic opportunity for generations to come.”
$10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award for Herkimer
The Village of Herkimer has represented itself as “A Jewel with Multiple Facets,” a moniker that was clearly conveyed in its DRI application. Since its first submission, the Village has taken several impressive steps to improve its application and demonstrate its readiness to implement a DRI award, including—completing a strategic Master Plan; receiving funding to develop a New York Department of State Brownfield Opportunity Area Plan; revising its zoning code; refining its proposed projects; securing commitments for private sector investments; and expanding community engagement. Projects and strategies in the application focus on attracting needed jobs and economic development to the downtown through investments in anchor properties, entrepreneurial growth and walkability; enhancing the downtown cultural experience; connecting the downtown to recreational assets, such as the Mohawk River, Erie Canal and West Canada Creek; and improving downtown gateways that welcome businesses, residents and visitors.
Herkimer has been awarded $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth following the local planning process. They join Oneonta, Rome, Amsterdam, Utica, Gloversville, Little Falls and Clinton/Kirkland, which were Mohawk Valley winners in the ﬁrst six rounds of the DRI.
Herkimer will 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 will examine local assets and opportunities to identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the communities’ vision for their downtowns and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI's seventh round will be complete in 2024.
$4.5 Million NY Forward Awards for Boonville and Richfield
The Village of Boonville’s application—entitled, “We’re Just Up the Road”—seeks to transform its downtown into an attractive destination for tourists and residents alike, building on its reputation as a hub for tourism and recreation, as well as the Gateway to the Adirondacks. Prior public sector grants have helped lay the foundation for successful revitalization by renovating mixed-use properties, enhancing parks, improving water quality, updating the Village/Town comprehensive plan with smart growth principles and achieving Clean Energy Community designation. Referring to itself as “walkable, bikable, adorable,” the Village’s downtown destinations and amenities are never more than a 10 or 20-minute walk away. Through this NY Forward award, the Village envisions improved pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, expanded small business opportunities, and enhanced public spaces with ample cultural activities.
The Greater Richfield Springs Downtown Area—located in the Town of Richfield and Village of Richfield Springs—is a small community with an outsized passion for the revitalization of its Main Street. Richfield’s NY Forward award will build on prior public and prior investments that have set the process of revitalization in motion. Projects and goals identified in its application focus on enhancements to the public realm through streetscape improvements; adaptive re-use of existing buildings; increased walkability and bikeability to promote public health and well-being; increased sustainability and decreased greenhouse gas emissions; support for small business growth in the downtown area; and increase awareness of, and appreciation for, its diverse cultural backgrounds.
Boonville and Richfield have each been awarded $4.5 million in state funding and investments to revitalize their downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth following the local planning process. They join Cooperstown, Sharon Springs and Dolgeville, which were Mohawk Valley winners in the ﬁrst round of NY Forward.
Boonville and Richfield will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns. 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 will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community's vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.
This funding will support Herkimer, Boonville, and Richfield as they carry out their plans to enhance the quality of life for New Yorkers in their communities, draw visitors, and spur economic opportunity for generations to come.
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “What sets apart our Downtown Revitalization Initiative and New York Forward programs from others is, it’s the communities working together to develop a plan to jumpstart their own revitalization. By embracing their surroundings, celebrating their rich history and culture and thinking creatively, we know Herkimer, Boonville and Richfield will breathe new life into their downtowns. Congratulations and the Department of State looks forward to assisting you as you embark on this new journey.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The DRI and NY Forward awards will help to realize Herkimer’s multi-faceted and impactful vision and increase the appeal of Boonville and Richfield for residents and visitors alike. These Mohawk Valley communities are poised to boost their local economies through downtown improvements that will also reflect an appreciation for diverse cultures and make the region’s recreational gems shine even brighter.”
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The DRI and NY Forward awards for Herkimer, Boonville, and Richfield will provide these Mohawk Valley towns and villages with targeted investments that will drive housing supply and economic growth, including the renovation of mixed-use buildings, adaptive re-use of existing structures, and modernization of local zoning codes. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her continued commitment to supporting local economies and revitalizing New York’s downtowns across all regions of our State."
MVREDC Co-Chairs Lawrence T. Gilroy III, President of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, Inc. and Dr. Marion Terenzio, SUNY Cobleskill President, said, “We are excited to see the visionary ideas presented for Herkimer, Boonville and Richfield recognized in this latest round of DRI and NY Forward awards. From visitors on their way to an Adirondack or waterfront adventure, to residents looking for better access to all that these communities have to offer, this funding will fuel transformative plans that will create more vibrant downtowns now and for the future.”
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “The construction of the Erie Canal played a prominent role in developing many communities throughout the Mohawk Valley, including the Village of Herkimer. The investments being made through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative are allowing these municipalities the opportunity to capitalize on their location along the canal so that today’s residents and future generations have a vibrant place to call home.”
State Senator Peter Oberacker said, “I am honored to represent a portion of the Mohawk Valley including the Town of Richfield and the Village of Richfield Springs – and this state investment will further enhance the historic downtown district along with the entire region. Our local leaders developed a winning plan that exhibited a compelling vision for economic development, community growth, and sustainability. New York’s small rural communities are true gems and economic drivers, it is vital that the state recognizes their importance and continues to help them thrive through programs like NY Forward.”
State Senator Joe Griffo said, “As a former mayor, I recognize the challenges that local governments face across the state. This funding will enhance and strengthen the Boonville community and help to position it for an even brighter future.“
Assemblymember Ken Blankenbush said, “Congratulations to Boonville on receiving the NY Forward award. The Village of Boonville is a small community with a large historic influence in Oneida County. I am honored to have supported you through the application phases, and I know residents are thrilled to continue several projects in the downtown area aimed at revitalizing community pride and enhancing local infrastructure. This significant investment promises to attract tourists, showcase the town’s unique culture and expand amenities for all. I look forward to seeing the vision finally come to fruition and visiting the Main Street District after the renovations.”
Assemblymember Robert Smullen said, “I am very proud the Village of Herkimer and our amazing community will receive this funding for downtown revitalization efforts. For our local businesses and residents, and all the tourists who visit year after year, this funding will create new job opportunities, improve infrastructure, add to the village’s rich culture and history and also pave the way for more families to establish roots in this area. I look forward to seeing where this funding and these revitalization efforts take us in the near future.”
Assemblymember Brian Miller said, “The commitment from the state through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and the NY Forward Program underlines the unwavering dedication to uplifting local communities and ensuring a brighter and more prosperous future for municipalities such as Herkimer, Richfield, Boonville, and their residents. Herkimer's $10 million DRI Award is a testament to the village's dedication, having strategically planned to implement projects to revitalize its downtown. As the county seat, Herkimer holds a pivotal role and this award presents a golden opportunity to reshape the village into a thriving hub. This is a catalyst for transformative change. From anchor properties to walkability, this investment will attract jobs, businesses, and connect the community to recreational assets, while fostering a dynamic and welcoming environment that once again embodies community pride. Richfield and Boonville’s $4.5 million NY Forward Awards reflect a shared vision for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and small business growth. These investments mark not just dollars, but the promise of revitalization, growth, and a brighter future for our changing communities. I applaud Governor Hochul and the leaders of these municipalities for taking the time to invest in our communities.”
Village of Herkimer Mayor Dana Sherry said, “I am honored that the Governor would choose the Village of Herkimer as the recipient of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI stands as a transformational investment that will benefit many generations to come. We look forward to additional guidance from the Governor's office and Empire State Development as we ignite the rebirth of the Village of Herkimer.”
Village of Boonville Mayor Judith Dellerba said, “We are profoundly grateful that Governor Hochul has taken an interest in our small village and sees potential for Boonville's future. The generous award from NY Forward will enable us to embark on transformative projects that will positively impact the lives of our citizens and strengthen the fabric of the Boonville community. This new partnership between the Village of Boonville and Governor Hochul's office exemplifies a shared vision for a brighter future, and together we will work tirelessly to maximize the impact of this funding, ensuring it reaches every bit of our village, and leaves a lasting legacy for generations to come.”
Village of Richfield Springs Mayor Richard Spencer said, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Hochul for her consideration and support of this great endeavor. For the past decade, the Village and Town of Richfield Springs have collaborated on several joint initiatives to strengthen our community and bring prosperity to our residents. We have made progress in this effort, and this award will able us to take giant steps forward to establish Richfield Springs as the northern anchor of Otsego County and a major gateway to the Mohawk Valley.”
Richfield Town Supervisor Larry Frigault said, “This grant will enable our small community to enact a number of projects that will benefit our community in the areas of housing, economic development and recreation. Each of these projects will help improve the quality of life in Richfield. I’d like to thank Dan Sullivan and the many people who worked on this grant. On behalf of the Town, thank you to Governor Hochul and officials involved for supporting Richfield and providing us the opportunity to improve our community.”
The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:
- 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, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
- 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 Strategic Investment Plan;
- The municipality has identiﬁed transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI or NY Forward funds; and
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative "plan-then-act" strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State's bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.
In the ﬁrst six years of the program, the state committed $700 million in 69 downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and tat have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation and greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments. Information on the DRI is available here.
About the NY Forward Program
NY Forward is a central component of the State's economic development policy. The program works in concert with the DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of smaller and rural downtowns throughout the State so that all communities can benefit from the State’s revitalization efforts, regardless of size, character, needs and challenges. Both programs are creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns in every region of the State that is enhancing economic development, quality of life and socio-economic diversity.
Once awarded, NY Forward communities are supported by a professional planning consultant and team of State agency experts led by the DOS to develop a Strategic Investment Plan that includes a slate of transformative, complementary and readily implementable projects. NY Forward projects are appropriately scaled to the size of each community; projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that enhance specific cultural and historical qualities that define and distinguish the small-town charm that defines these municipalities.
The Strategic Investment Plans and projects are driven by a Local Planning Committee, which conducts extensive community outreach and engagement. The Department of State also provides expansive technical assistance and capacity-building webinars — featuring staff, experts and peers from DRI communities — which are geared toward supporting communities that may have less resources and capacity than larger, more urban communities.