State to Work with Residents, Community Leaders and Public Officials to Revitalize Norwich's Downtown
Downtown Revitalization Investments Are Crucial Part of the State's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Norwich will receive $10 million in funding as one of the Southern Tier region winners of the fifth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
"As part of our work to build back stronger than before, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is helping localities make strategic investments that will allow their communities to flourish in the long run," Governor Hochul said. "Not only will this funding help Norwich transform its downtown area for those who live and work there, but it also gives the village the jumpstart it needs to create jobs and grow the economy."
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a central part of the state's comprehensive strategy to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. I congratulate Norwich on winning this $10 million awarded that will help build a revitalized downtown that supports new businesses, expands entertainment options, improves bike and pedestrian safety and accessibility, and increases mixed-use space."
Led by the Department of State, the DRI serves as a cornerstone of the State's economic development policy by transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract redevelopment, businesses, jobs, and economic and housing diversity.
In this round, Governor Hochul doubled funding from $100 million to $200 million and allowed each Regional Economic Development Council to decide whether to nominate two $10 million awardees or one $20 million awardee for transformative and catalytic downtown redevelopment projects. Like past DRI rounds, each selected community will develop a strategic plan through a bottom-up, community-based planning process that articulates a vision for the revitalization of its downtown and identifies a list of signature projects that have the potential to transform the downtown and leverage further private and public investments. DRI funds will then be awarded for selected projects that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and realize the community's vision for the downtown. Through the DRI, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will provide technical support to the awardees to assist them with including carbon neutral principles in support of the state's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050.
With a location that is within a 50-mile radius of major Upstate cities, including Syracuse and Utica, Norwich wants to build on their history of innovation and creativity to become an "authentic urban substitute" in response to a changing American economy. Norwich has focused its efforts on their downtown area, including the mixed-use redevelopment of an old school building, improving connectivity between the local museums, and focusing on clean energy development, which has brought 3 solar farms within 5 miles of the city since 2019. Building on these efforts, the city aims to support new businesses, expand entertainment options, improve bike/pedestrian safety and accessibility, and increase mixed-use space.
The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Norwich as one of the 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, 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;
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.
Norwich now joins the Village of Endicott as the Southern Tier Region's winners of the fifth round of the DRI. Elmira, Watkins Glen, Owego and Hornell were the Southern Tier Region's winners in the first four DRI rounds, respectively.
Norwich 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 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 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 fifth round will be complete in 2022.
Acting Secretary of State Brendan C. Hughes said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will help reinvigorate Norwich's economy by providing additional resources to attract new businesses, improve connectivity and accessibility and increase mixed-use development throughout the downtown area. The Department of State looks forward to working with Norwich in developing and implementing its strategic plan in ways that leverage private investments to create more opportunities in the Southern Tier."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is building New York State's economy through strategic plans to create vibrant city centers. This DRI award will help Norwich leverage its prime Upstate location, broaden clean energy development and support mixed-use and cultural spaces."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "In the Southern Tier, HCR's investments have enabled historic factories to be put back to work as affordable housing, funded the construction of new homes, and injected resources that continue to spur the revitalization of entire communities. Thanks to Governor Hochul and the visionary leaders in the Southern Tier, this DRI award will build on those successes, working on behalf of the people to restore and further revitalize Norwich."
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO at NYSERDA said, “Norwich is already incorporating clean energy into their revitalization efforts and we look forward to providing technical assistance and support as they build on their success with plans for their downtown area. Inclusion of carbon neutral principles in the planning process will ensure that their projects are healthy for the community and the environment in support of the state’s climate and clean energy goals.”
Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York's legacy communities like Norwich have great potential to support economic growth and job creation, promote livable neighborhoods, and offer quality housing while preserving local heritage. With the assistance of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New York State is leading the way in promoting sustainable growth while renewing the historic core of our cities and towns."
Senator Fred Akshar said, "For far too long it seemed like the Norwich community and surrounding Chenango County were collectively the ultimate underdog in terms of attention from leaders in Albany, but today there can be no doubt that the hard work put in by Commerce Chenango and all the partners who worked on this project has paid off. Norwich is now at the forefront of transformative, positive change for the future. People who live here know that this community is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family, yet like many other communities around the state, it's been harder and harder to keep the next generation from leaving to seek opportunities elsewhere. Today marks the day we invest in our future, invest in ourselves and invest in a thriving community filled with opportunities for generations to come."
Assemblymember Joe Angelino said, "It is welcome news to see that my hometown of Norwich has been selected as part of the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). The $10 million in funding will help our town modernize and attract more out-of-town visitors. Norwich is uniquely located in the center of a triangle between Utica, Syracuse and Binghamton. With a renewed commitment to revitalizing the area, we hope to see a 'rising tide that will lift all boats' approach that re-energizes the local economy."
Norwich Mayor Shawn Sastri said, "This is an exciting day for Norwich, and I commend all in our community who put forward a compelling DRI package. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her support. This $10 million DRI award will bring a series of new development to Norwich."
Norwich Mayor-elect Brian Doliver said, "What an amazing day for Norwich! I am grateful not only to Governor Hochul for her support of our downtown, but to the many dedicated community members who worked hard to put forth this vision. I look forward to working with the entire community to develop projects to help begin a bright new chapter for Norwich."
Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) and Broome Community College President Kevin Drumm said, "The STREDC is incredibly proud to support the City of Norwich with its exciting future. This community driven strategic plan will benefit both residents and visitors alike. The $10 million in DRI funding will help to fuel an array of targeted, transformative projects, promoting economic growth and creating a more vibrant downtown area where people will want to live, work, and play."
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative launched 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, the initiative represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation, bringing with it an interagency team of state experts to support local government capacity in realizing their community's vision.
In the first four years of the program, the state committed $400 million to invest in downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. The fifth round of the DRI will have an additional $200 million commitment. 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 at least $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.
Downtown redevelopment plays a critical role in the State's nation-leading efforts to support sustainable economic development, reverse climate change, and promote climate justice by creating walkable, bikeable and transit-accessible communities that significantly reduce automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions. The DRI also supports the State's Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly NY initiative by creating more opportunities for outside recreation and exercise; offering safe, accessible public spaces for social interaction, which improves mental health; and expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, particularly in underserved communities.
The initiative is headed by New York State Department of State. Communities receive support from private sector experts and a team of state agency staff led by the Department of State in close partnership with Empire State Development, and state Homes and Community Renewal.
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