Government and Politics
February 13, 2023From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul
Villages of Geneseo and Medina To Receive $4.5 Million Each
New $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 the Villages of Geneseo and Medina will each receive $4.5 million in funding as the Finger Lakes region winners of the first round of NY Forward. Building on the momentum of the State's successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same "Plan-then-Act" strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York's smaller and rural communities. As part of NY Forward Round One, two to three awards will be made to smaller communities in each of the state's ten economic development regions to support development and implementation of a revitalization plan for their downtowns.
"NY Forward is a key part of our economic strategy to grow businesses and local economies, and create thriving communities," Governor Hochul said. "These investments will help Geneseo and Medina reinvigorate their downtowns by creating jobs, boosting economies, and improving quality of life. My administration is committed to making strategic investments to help strengthen downtowns for the next generation of New Yorkers."
NY Forward is a central component of the State's economic development efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York's downtowns. NY Forward serves smaller communities with historic character that distinguishes them from the larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature - focusing on the immediately surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development.
Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support smaller communities that may have less capacity as part of the NY Forward program and fund projects 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 elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town charm.
Downtown Geneseo is centered along the village's Main Street and Avon Road, which is known as the center of commerce, government, social interaction, entertainment and education in the Village and County. Geneseo seeks to build upon its existing architectural and geographic strengths to thrive as a vibrant cultural hub, performing and visual arts scene and tourist attraction in Livingston County. The Village's revitalization strategy identifies a number of opportunities to transform several prominent vacant buildings into downtown anchors, enhance walkability, and improve public spaces and amenities.
Downtown Medina is a compact and walkable area along the Erie Canal encompassing many of the Village's most impactful economic drivers and a significant portion of its local waterfront and water access points. By capitalizing on the synergies between the downtown and the waterfront, the village's deep-rooted historical significance and architectural assets, recent and ongoing economic developments and its scenic and strategic location - Medina is poised to restore and advance its legacy as a key cultural anchor and economic hub along the Erie Canal. Medina's vision includes investments to reactivate upper stories in downtown, enhance recreational park space and water access, expand cultural tourism assets, diversify housing options, and encourage small business creation.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "The NY Forward program works hand in hand with our successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to re-energize smaller downtowns and create more opportunities for residents, businesses and visitors. The Villages of Geneseo and Medina are the first Finger Lakes communities to receive NY Forward funds, and both have a vision for revitalization that leverages existing cultural and historical assets to transform their downtowns into an economic engine for the entire region. I look forward to seeing both villages' transformative visions come to life."
Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "The NY Forward initiative is a focused approach to revitalizing smaller, rural communities throughout New York State. With this targeted funding, the Villages of Geneseo and Medina will be able to map and envision bright futures for their downtowns, through plans designed to accelerate their vibrancy and economic growth."
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Today's NY Forward awards will support meaningful downtown revitalization efforts that will benefit residents of Geneseo and Medina for years to come. This $4.5 million investment in each community will be guided by strategic plans formulated with the cooperation of local leaders and stakeholders to maximize the enhancement of both villages. I look forward to seeing these communities' plans come to fruition in the near future."
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chair Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce said, "Geneseo and Medina truly represent all that is good about the Finger Lakes region's smaller communities and everything that they have to offer. Many thanks to Governor Hochul for recognizing the real need to help fuel the revitalization of these beautiful communities, accelerating economic opportunities for generations to come."
State Senator Rob Ortt said, "Western New York is on the rebound thanks to our residents and strong local leaders, as well as targeted investments like this. Funding programs to revitalize rural communities and historic downtowns like Medina will only pay dividends toward our state's economic future. I am proud to represent cities, towns and villages along the Erie Canal, and I will work with my partners in government to ensure that these communities remain focal points in New York's economic development plans."
State Senator Pamela Helming said, "Congratulations to the Village of Geneseo and all those whose commitment and hard work resulted in today's announcement. This is a wonderful day for the residents who live here, the students at SUNY Geneseo who study here, the businesses that grow here, and the tourists who travel here. When completed, this transformative investment will be obvious to anyone who comes to this historic village. I thank Governor Hochul and our state agencies for their partnership and investment in these communities."
Assemblymember Marjorie Byrnes said, "Geneseo leaders have worked hard to create a safe, walkable, welcoming community in the downtown area. I know there are several projects the village is looking to begin and expand upon with this funding. I am confident the projects will enhance the historic downtown district to benefit residents and visitors alike."
Assemblymember Stephen Hawley said, "The NY Forward Program funding for the revitalization of these historic villages recognizes the importance of our rural identity in New York State. Rural New York makes up over 85 percent of the geography of the state. Developing Geneseo and Medina are key to driving tourism and new business in the Finger Lakes region. These historic areas deserve this critical funding, and I am thankful they are finally getting the recognition they deserve for these beautiful communities."
Village of Geneseo Mayor Chris Ivers said, "This award will be transformative to the Village of Geneseo. It will support our newly adopted Comprehensive Plan, and it will lead the economic redevelopment of our historic village. In doing so, it will also ignite new interest and energy in increasing the economic viability of our neighboring towns, as it serves to strengthen our region as a whole."
Village of Medina Mayor Mike Sidari said, "The Village of Medina firmly believes that projects funded through NY Forward will be a vital step in the continuing rise of our village as a regional economic and tourism destination. This is a transformative moment for Medina, with NY Forward projects advancing opportunity for entrepreneurs, job creation, generation of tax revenue and ultimately attracting more young families and tourists."
The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered the 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 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.
Geneseo and Medina will now begin the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns. A local planning committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, 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.