Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul: "Your community will never be the same again"
Village is the winner of $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant for the Finger Lakes Region
Investment complements "Finger Lakes Forward" strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Penn Yan Friday morning to announce that the Village of Penn Yan will receive $10 million in funding as the Finger Lakes winner of the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The DRI is a component of Finger Lakes Forward, the region's blueprint for economic growth. As in the first two rounds of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions is selected as a $10 million winner. That $100 million in statewide funding and investments is 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.
The DRI planning effort in Penn Yan will focus on promoting sustained, year-round economic growth by concentrating on four areas:
• leveraging the abundant natural assets,
• capitalizing on the growing craft food and beverage industry,
• using the local art scene as an economic engine,
• and capturing the intellectual capital that lives and vacations in Penn Yan.
"The Finger Lakes region is home to some of the greatest natural assets in the world, and I have seen firsthand how Penn Yan has been enriched by our growing upstate economy and booming craft beverage industry," said Hochul, who made the announcement at the Keuka Candy Emporium before a crowd of over 100 community leaders.
"Penn Yan is at the heart of the Finger Lakes, with a historic downtown that is primed for significant investment. With $10 million from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the village will be able to move forward with plans to improve housing, tourism assets, and transportation connections," said Hochul, proclaiming herself a "true believer" in downtowns.
She called the grant a sign that the state is empowering local communities. "Your community will never be the same again," she said.
Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, said, "This investment in the village of Penn Yan will reap enormous benefits for the community and the entire region. By making strategic investments in downtown communities, the Governor's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is attracting more jobs, businesses, and tourists to the exciting Finger Lakes Region. I look forward to seeing the positive effects these projects will have on this deserving community."
Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar said, "We are delighted and thrilled to be selected as the winner of Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This investment will spur further growth while enhancing our current assets throughout the community. This is a great day for Penn Yan and the entire Finger Lakes region."
Thanking Hochul after her announcement, MacKerchar added, “This is truly a great thing. We’re very, very grateful. There were four things that were essential in getting this DRI grant; patience for one (we were third round), persistence (third round), a positive attitude (that’s gotten us quite a ways), and the fourth, most important thing was Steve Griffin,” which was answered by a standing ovation, honoring Griffin’s work on the grant application process,
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office issued a statement that said, in part, “While so many other main streets have lost out to strip mall developments and big-box retailers, Penn Yan's downtown is still the center of commerce for residents and visitors alike. However, a number of barriers, including the impact of recent extreme floods and lack of housing options, are suppressing Penn Yan's full potential for leveraging private investment and increasing economic opportunity for all.”
Penn Yan now joins Geneva and Batavia, which were the Finger Lakes region's winners in the first and second DRI rounds, respectively, and Watkins Glen, which was chosen in the second round for the Southern Tier region. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council went through a competitive review process of proposals from communities throughout the region and considered all eight criteria below before recommending Penn Yan as its nominee for winner:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The municipality, or the downtown's catchment area, should be of sufficient size to support a vibrant, year-round downtown;
- 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.