Video, Audio, Photos And Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Highlights Finger Lakes Investments As Part of FY 2024 Executive Budget

Government and Politics

February 13, 2023

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Budget Includes Nearly $20 Million to Support Higher Education Projects in Strategic Workforce Sectors

Includes $96 Million to Construct and Revitalize Necessary Transportation Infrastructure and $15 Million to Upgrade Green Spaces

Governor Hochul: "We've come a long way and I'm really proud to be able to be Governor during the continuation of Rochester's rebirth and transformation. And you know, the potential is extraordinary."

Hochul: "I'm so proud to be Governor of this state and to know that I have leaders like all of you in this room who care deeply about your piece of the world. And because of what you do every single day, you're making that part of the world even better, not just for the people who live here now, but for generations to come."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced details of key proposals from her Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget to grow jobs and boost the economy in the Finger Lakes region of New York. In line with the 2023 State of the State, the budget includes a major investment to increase housing supply and expand economic opportunity and innovation in the region.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Wow, that's like as exciting as the Buffalo Bills winning next year's Super Bowl. As a confess, I just couldn't turn it on. I watched every down this year. I lived and rose and fell as all of us did. So sorry, I was with the Governor of Kansas and the Governor of Pennsylvania as they left our National Governor's meeting in Washington early because they had to go somewhere. But I will say that the rest of the Governors - this is a true story - y'all said that they wished Buffalo had been there because Buffalo captured the hearts and minds of a nation. And so, I thought that was really powerful. So, let's give the Buffalo Bills a round of applause for an outstanding season.

You'll be hearing from our extraordinary leaders from this region, and they've all become such good friends of mine. The Mayor has such weighty responsibilities, but Malik Evans has stepped up with a sense of optimism and a confidence to be able to lead this community forward. So, let's give another round applause to our Mayor, Malik Evans. Senator Cooney has been fighting for his district, to bring money back and I'll be talking about how successful he was in a few moments. But I know he believes in all the treasure of his district. And I know in particular, he loves the Susan B. Anthony House. And so, I want to thank him for being such a champion for his district. Let's give another round of applause to Senator Cooney.

Assemblymember Harry Bronson and I have been friends since I was a member of Congress representing a part of his district over a decade ago. And again, he just so loves the people he represents, and he wears it all the time. And we know all of his major priorities are fighting for his district. I want to thank Assemblymember Harry Bronson for all he does for us as well. And you have a dynamite County Executive named Adam Bello. Thank you, Adam Bello, for all you do. You're a tremendous partner for us. It's always great to see former Lieutenant Governor, former Mayor, former Chief of Police, former everything, but now the leader of the preeminent Rochester Chamber, which represents all the businesses and that is the one and only, Bob Duffy. So, let's recognize Bob Duffy is here.

Great to be back here again. I was here twice last month, but now I have a chance to talk about not just our State of the State housing plans, but also so many initiatives that impact this area. We talk also about - we're here for GM's game changing announcement to show that they're not making announcement to leave which had always been what the case was when I was growing up. Well, another headline about a big business leaving the area, but instead of it reinvesting in this area. So, electric vehicle production happening right here in Rochester. Very exciting. And we are also here in Rochester to announce the $10 million DRI award to help clean up Main and Clinton because that place is going to be spectacular. That area is going to be really achieving its full potential. So, we are continuing to build on all the projects we've started downtown. We've come a long way and I'm really proud to be able to be Governor during the continuation of Rochester's rebirth and transformation. And you know, the potential is extraordinary.

And we're here to recognize - this seems to be the big birthday week. I'm aware of that. It's Black History Month and we celebrate the 205th anniversary of Frederick Douglass, who of course made Rochester his home and somewhere we're very proud of. You know, he lent his voice to so many causes, and I'll never forget that he was one of the most powerful voices in support of women's suffrage. Back when the women gathered at Seneca Falls, they let a couple of men in. They let Frederick Douglass in, and he was very eloquent in his defense of women's right to vote at the time. So, happy birthday, Frederick Douglass. And also, Susan B. Anthony's birthday is tomorrow? Wednesday. I knew Deborah, you would know that.

But also, you think about just, you know, how this region has become just a place we talk about the fight for justice and all that was brought home to realize we lost another great one. When you think about Rochester's great voices and the loss of Reverend Franklin Florence was hard for everyone. What a life. In our own time, we think about these people of the past. You know, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, but to have lived among one of the greats who will be talked about for generations to come, lost to his family, but what he did for civil rights in this area and making sure marginalized voices were heard. And some people say, you know, he's one of the most notable individuals in this fight since Frederick Douglass and I second that. So, our condolences to his family and let him know and his family know that his work continues through all of us.

And I would also say that part of that is lifting up communities, and economic development is that catalyst. When you invest in communities, you invest in facilities and places and businesses that'll create jobs. You're also giving people that dignity to control their own destiny. That they don't have to be a captive to their own circumstances, or the neighborhood they're born in, or the school they went to, they can have a chance to rise up. So, we're continuing to focus on making sure that communities have the resources they need, and that is an important part of bringing this community back. Again, the investments in the Sibley Building. I mean, how many years did we go by that building and it just sort of mocked us a reminder of what it had been? And now to see that place just full of life and energy. It's extraordinary. It's extraordinary. The Strong Museum of Play, which I came to with my children when they were younger, but then it just developed into this world-class facility that we're all so proud of. And ROC the Riverway - I mean, to have the river here and have it not been taken advantage of the way we are and to unleash the potential. I mean, just the flood waters of great things that are happening in that area. And of course, Innovation Square, where we find ourselves today. You know, perfect example of the new Rochester being built at a place that the old Rochester once occupied the legacy businesses like Xerox and Codex.

So, here we are, finding ways to make this region more affordable, safer, more livable. This is also an opportunity for us to have more young students live down here. I mean, it's the young people that we attract here. And when I was growing up in Western New York, we always were realizing that our greatest export were our young people. They were heading to places like Texas and North Carolina and everywhere else they could live their dream. And now that doesn't have to be the case. People are coming here, young people are coming here and realizing there's an extraordinary quality of life and infusing this city in this region with their talent and their energy.

So, I want to thank the Gallina family, Lauren and Evan and Robin, their entire team for executing this extraordinary vision. And also, Natalie and Karl Stabnau for this beautiful, renovated theater for hosting us here today.

You know, you also think about numbers. Sometimes I think about places, I think about people. But also, numbers can also tell a story. And, you know, I judge myself as Governor since I became Governor in August of 2021. What's happened since then? And I look at numbers like the unemployment rate in the State of New York. At the time, it was 7.1 percent statewide. It is now 3.8 percent. I mean, those numbers are historic. Rochester at 3.2 percent. I mean, growing up in Buffalo, there was always a one in front of that would've been 13.2 percent. So, it's still shocking to me as an upstater to see numbers that tell a very, very different story than we grew up with. And so, those are great stories to talk about. The number of jobs created since I've been Governor, 586,000 jobs have been created in the State of New York, a dramatic increase even here in Rochester, over a 3 percent increase just in that short - we're talking since August of 2021. So, the numbers are trending absolutely in the right direction, absolutely in the right direction.

So, I'm excited about that as well. And we're deeply committed to this region. You know, this is an area that we're counting on to be an economic engine for the rest of the state, to power through a lot of our decisions, not just in, you know, building on the legacy of our former businesses, but also embracing the new technologies. So, this is what we're talking about is again, a more affordable, safer, livable region. And we have it all here. We have it all in this region. And what I want to talk about is an area that's an area I feel that one place we could be held, is a lack of housing for people. And I'm talking about everything from affordable housing to workforce housing, to market rate housing to luxury housing. We don't have enough. And again, what a difference from a generation or two ago when there was plenty of housing, plenty of very affordable housing because people weren't living here. They would, people would leave. There was plenty of housing on the market and a lot of abandoned houses. And now the value of those properties is just extraordinary.

But the problem is when you have a limited housing supply, high demand, what happens is for people in search of a home, either you can't find one or the price is out of your reach. And that could be a barrier to either the young people growing up here, educate here, want to stay here. If they can't find a place that they can afford, they won't stay. And if we're trying to attract new businesses to come here and bring your corporate headquarters or bring CEOs and bring people on all levels of work. Again, housing is the challenge. I wouldn't have said this 10, 15 years ago, it was not a problem for us. But I feel as having studied this state and know it better than anybody that this is the area that we have todo much better. So, we have to keep up our housing supply and I have a bold plan, 800,000 new homes over the next decade, I believe, will fill that need to again, drive down the price, but also increase the supply. Part of it is affordable housing, a $25 billion investment in affordable housing to tear down the old, blighted neighborhoods that are just a reminder of failed policies of the past and building beautiful new housing for people.

I've seen a lot of this in Rochester. I've been to many, many ribbon cuttings here. The buildings are gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous whether they have supportive housing. I've been to places we've built for veterans and places where people with substance abuse problems, mental health challenges, or people just looking for a place to start before they can earn enough money to get their own place. You know, buy a home someday, which is still the American Dream. You know, the housing stock needs to grow in upstate. We think it's a very modest goal to ask that housing grow one percent every three years. Many communities can do that easily. For some communities, that's one apartment building. And so, let's not be frightened by the thought that we have this, "Oh my God, what does this mean?" It means that we believe in our future so much, and we know that people want to be here, that we're going to offer them a range of affordable and market rate and all kinds of housing, because then they can live here. It's that simple. But also, I know communities are going to say, "Well, we have additional costs involved."

Well, how do I know so much? Fourteen years on a town board, planning board, zoning board, traffic safety board, environmental board. I know all the ways that you can stop a project, believe me, but we led on a lot in my town, you know, we stood up against people who didn't support even group homes for individuals with disabilities because it was such nimbyism, you know, such hatred in people's hearts. And we had to stand up against that and bring in affordable housing and break down the barriers, and everybody always said, even senior housing, "Well, we're not sure." Seriously? We had overcome that one. But once you do it, he'll say, "Oh really? They're wonderful neighbors. It's great. It's fabulous."

So, just people have this, you know, keeping the status quo is always better for a lot of people, and it's just not, that's not how you grow. That's how you stagnate. And we cannot live in a state that stagnates, and that is my fear if we don't lean into these bold objectives. So, we're going to give money to localities for planning to help cover the cost of sewers if they need more roads, more schools. But again, I'm asking everyone to just see the possibilities of what this project will look like, and that's how we achieve our full potential. We also want to make sure that our neighborhood in rural preservation programs, you know, have the resources they need. So, we're adding more money here, right here in the Finger Lakes to provide housing assistance, community renewal, and local rent subsidies for people as they try to get on their feet. But to build housing is great, but you also have to make sure that the neighborhoods are safe. I was just talking to the mayor about this again, and he can talk about some numbers that are trending in a very good direction, very good direction, but it is still very much top of mind for a lot of our residents, particularly in our urban areas.

And I'm committed as the Governor to bring all the resources to bear that we possibly can. I've had Zoom calls with localities and bringing together U.S. attorney, district attorney, police officers, police chiefs, sheriffs, everybody, mayors, electeds, anybody that'll talk to me about it. And I say, "What do you need? Tell me what you need." For the first time we have police officers from the State Police force on the ground here in Rochester trying to help them and creating community stabilization groups that have helped go out there and just reach out to people and be a supportive hand to our local police departments because they have so much they're dealing with. And so, I'm committed to doing this, we strengthened our gun laws. There are way too many guns still on our streets today that never should even have been crossing the borders to be in New York State. We banned ghost guns because believe it or not, you could order a kit online and be able to have a gun manufactured at your kitchen table, you know, a lethal weapon, until we banned them here in the State of New York.

So, we're starting to see results. We're going to continue to have a dramatic amount of money put toward gun violence disruption, and help communities stabilize and give alternatives to young people so they have better options, alternatives for, you know, after school activities. You know, a lot of different ways that we can help people just find a different path forward and not feel like their identity has to be associated with a gang on the streets that if they don't have a strong family structure at home, that family alternative cannot be a gang. It has to be other adults, whether it's through the schools or social services or through the churches, you know, very powerful in our communities. So, I'm going to continue to increase the funding we put toward these programs. We're also helping our district attorneys have the resources they need, helping our court appointed attorneys. They've been making almost poverty wages right now, so it's hard to attract people to do that important work so we're going to pay them more.

And also asking judges to consider more when deciding if someone commits a crime, a serious crime, a violent crime, repeat offenders, whether or not they should be looking at more factors as I believe they should in deciding whether that person goes back home or is held until they have their court date, or they have a higher bail. So, those are all factors that I want to fix in our laws right now. I believe it can be done, and I appreciate the support of our local officials who really are joined with us in making sure we do everything we can to make our communities safer. Because you want to build housing, that's great. You want to stabilize downtowns; you get the crime under control. And so those are all intertwined together as far as unleashing the full potential, which is so important.

Another major area we're focused on is mental health, and this is one that has no partisan label to it. It's been everybody across the state - urban, rural, suburban. When we announced a billion dollars of investment in dealing with the mental health crisis, which has always been there under the surface, but what we saw during the pandemic was quite extraordinary and no one could have foreseen this even in the first year or two. But now the lingering effects of what the pandemic did to our young people in particular, they're just kind of unanchored during that time - two years.

And a lot of them, teenage years are tough anyhow, but not to have a support system and have that connection with an adult or have resources available to them through even a school nurse paying attention to them, they didn't have that for a long time, and now they're a little bit adrift. And we're losing more young people to teenage suicide and other challenges before going to treatment, self-medicating with substance abuse, so fixing the mental health problem has tohappen. So, I declared in my State of the State that the era of ignoring the mental health challenges in the state is over. We're going to fund it. We're going to work on youth challenges, we're going to focus on the adults who need help, and also bringing more money to make sure there's more psychiatric beds and services online and dealing with the opioid addiction.

You've heard me tell it before - I don't know a single family that hasn't been affected by the opioid crisis and now lace was fentanyl. It is so deadly. That's how he lost my nephew. We thought he was on a different path and all of a sudden, the fentanyl was too much. And so, this is personal for a lot of us and we have to do so much more, but giving people better options, alternatives, just giving them hope, can also make a big difference in their lives, and that's something I'm committed to.

We're announcing more money for Finger Lakes, in particular, $45 million for this region to support the addiction treatment and recovery programs that you have going right here. I visited many of them, and I want to make sure that we have this, in addition to $12 million in federal grants to support what's going on right here. But not just keeping the status quo, but really ramping it up and doing much more in the outreach space.

And foundation aid for our schools - the amount of money that we're investing in our schools is extraordinary this year. 10 percent increase overall, this year it's $34.5 billion, the largest ever. But I want to make sure that we're devoting some of that extra money to mental health services in schools because there's too many schools out there that there's nothing available. Nothing. And the teachers, they're not trained. They shouldn't be expected to be the parents, the teacher, the disciplinarian, the nutritionist, the mental health therapist, all the different things we ask our teachers to do. This is something that they should not have to worry about, that we should have support right in the schools. So, we're increasing money for schools here in the Finger Lakes. There's an increase of 11.4 percent from last year alone - that is extraordinary. $267 million for this region, which I think will be well spent. This is an area where we need to make sure that our city schools, our suburban, our rural schools, all have the resources they need. So, for the first time in history, we're going to have fully funded foundation aid and making sure that we invest in it.

So, here's why this all ties together. We have great opportunities in economic development. This is the place businesses want to be. How do I know that? Because they're coming. I can see them. I talk to them on the phone. They tell me they want to be here because they see, for example, the challenges out west with resources and water. You come to Upstate New York, you have a factory that needs to be powered by energy and by water, we have plentiful water and electricity. We have it here in New York State.

That is something we took for granted. Now, those are priceless commodities for businesses looking to expand. So, making sure that we seize the opportunity. And the semiconductor industry, when you hear about Micron, that is not just Syracuse, that's led to an opportunity we have right in the Batavia STAMP facility, a new company I've talked to on the phone, they're coming from all the way, it's a German company, they're in England. They're going to create 600 jobs in Batavia because of being a part of the supply chain for Micron. That's just one example of how all over the State of New York, our education foundation, getting smart people, getting them educated, making them ready for these jobs because the jobs are coming. The jobs are coming. And whether it's building, we need a lot more people in the trades, we're going to be building for 20 years with Micron. And those are good paying jobs with great dignity. I want to get more young people interested in those careers as well because the sky's the limit. If we can build it, they will come and that's what we're understanding from them as well.

So, let's continue our Upstate manufacturing success stories, creating all those great jobs, and we're going to continue focusing on investing in those facilities every single way we can. And I'm going to keep working with Bob Duffy, and you know that I'll call anybody anytime. I call into other states. I'm always recruiting. And if you've got someone you want me to, the live one on the wire, Bob, let me know and I'll just, I'll reel them in for you. Okay? It's what I do. So, we're going to continue building the pipeline and again, the semiconductor space, how do we make ourselves more competitive? We're establishing, and the first time ever, the Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration. Coincidentally, all that sounds like, if you abbreviate it, goes to GO SEMI, so that's our semiconductor office.

I literally spoke with the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo in Washington two days ago. She said they are so excited about how New York State is creating this office because when companies think about where they want to go and they can come to a one stop and have support finding out about the federal, state incentives, where they're going to get the workforce development done, how they can partner with a local community college that teach young people the skills that they're going to be looking for. That's how it all ties together. That's how you corner the market. That's how you become the preeminent place in the nation, if not the world, for semiconductor manufacturing. And it's happening in Upstate New York. So, that's why we're doing it here.

So, I need our community colleges to step up and that's why we're allocating $17 million from Monroe Community College for a new Advanced Technology Center. That money's going to help us expand tactical training and also lean hard into their nation-leading optics program, which is really important to this industry, to our region as well. And they'll also be creating technicians for the semiconductor industry. So, when we landed Micron - and believe me, they were heading out the door to go to Texas. I said, "You're really going to Texas?" So, we had a nice dinner in Syracuse. Unfortunately, it was January, and it was bitter cold last year. I said, "Well, it's not always like this." But I said, "You know what?" And I really leaned hard because I know this area so well. I said, "You need to get down to the Finger Lakes and go see what we have up in the St. Lawrence Seaway area and the beautiful downtown. I said, "We've got great museums in Rochester." So, I mean, I really was like doing this sales job on it, but I also said, "But also, I will make sure that our community colleges are your partners."

And that's why we're investing in Monroe Community College to make sure that they have what they need. So, I can go back to Micron and say, "Remember I promised you 9,000 skilled workers and 50,000 parts of the supply chain?" I said, "I'm working on that as we speak with our budget this year." So that's the direct connection between the funding we're putting on the table and making sure that they can upgrade their labs and their nurse training facilities as well, and so many other places because we have a lot of work to do. Cornell Tech Food Innovation, you know, I was with all these other governors and every one of them - I think most of them - they have this image of New York state as skyscrapers, subway, you know, Statue of Liberty, it's all New York City. I said, "Oh, you have to expand your horizons." We are really an innovator when it comes to food processing, food growth, you know, agriculture is one of our bread-and-butter industries. You know, we're number one, two, or three in so many areas. And we have Cornell University, the Cornell Food Tech Innovation Hub - it's extraordinary, what they're doing.

So, we're leading edge in this space. I want to continue investing in this to help create these opportunities to keep us positioned in leadership positions. So, that's going to modernize their facility in Geneva, and that's going to help us have cutting edge technologies to increase our yield and make sure that we don't fall prey to the food insecurity, which is a problem in so many other parts of the world. I want to make sure that we are independent, not relying on food sources from other countries.

Infrastructure sounds kind of boring to a lot of people unless you're in the field, but I always view infrastructure as a way to connect. You know, it connects communities, it connects people to their jobs, it connects people and places. So, I think that this is another great opportunity, not just for the great jobs that we're creating, but we're announcing over $96 million in DOT capital projects right here. We're going to replace bridges over the Erie Canal, and as someone who gone on the Erie Canal, I can point exactly where the bridges are that need a little extra help. But the Erie Canal - again, what a great resource this is - the Erie Canal is so beautiful. This is what I also talked about to Micron. I said, "You need to take a boat along the Erie Canal. You need to get down to all the beautiful communities that are connected by the canal." So, we're going to be paving bridges over at Erie Canal.

We're going to be paving Route 104, which I know is a mess because I've been on a lot of times. Just so you know, I really hate potholes. I got this thing about potholes. Maybe it's because as Lieutenant Governor, I did so much time in the car. Bob knows about this. We traveled, I think we lost track, but maybe 14 or 15 times around the world mile-wise. It's a lot. So, I have a personal experience with every single pothole. So, I'm really proud to announce that in the Finger Lakes alone just since I've been Governor, we've filled over 101,000 potholes. You're gone. Goodbye. So, I keep track of things like that, but we're going to continue investing, you know, 418 miles already paved.

And so, I know how important it is. You know, you also get a different image of a community when you are on potholes and the curbs look kind of run down. You kind of feel like it's, you know, "Oh, this community doesn't have a lot of pride in itself." Look, you know how crummy the infrastructure is here, so we can fix that.

I also want to support Monroe County's Multimodal Hub planning for $2.5 million to help them do what they need to do because the freight industry is growing rapidly up here, and we need to be able to be ready for that. So, we're working on that as well.

And I'll tell you - and I keep referencing back to these governors I met - I had this one governor from Utah, he says, "I went to this most beautiful place. There was like a bridge up there, and then there's this river and all these gorges and cliffs." And he goes, "I can't remember the name." I said, "You're talking about Letchworth State Park." I said, "That is, you know, some people call it the Grand Canyon of the East. I actually called the Grand Canyon, the Letchworth of the West. So, he knew about this, and I grew up there. I have to tell you; I spent my childhood jumping off the cliff before the signs went up that says you shouldn't do that. This was a long time ago. I swam in the river, and just, it is beautiful. Yeah, our natural resources here are so gorgeous. We're going to continue investing $10 million for Letchworth State Park to keep making sure that it stays as spectacular as is. $4.5 million for the Running Track Bridge, we want to get that done. And also $3 million for the Genesee Valley Greenway, because these are our treasures. You know, they're there for families to enjoy, but also, again, it's just part of that overall quality of life, quality of life that's so important to all of us. So, here's, the riverway, we're going to keep enhancing that as well. And also, you know, so many other assets here as well.

So, and one more thing I want to mention, honoring the legacy of an extraordinary Rochester native who has a birthday coming up. And what's he meant to the advancement the woman's rights is extraordinary. We are announcing $10 million for the Susan B. Anthony Museum. I have been there so many times. It is a jewel. The story is fabulous. It's inspiring, and the problem is because she didn't grow up in a really big house, there's not a lot of space for people. So, when you want to invite, you know, the tour buses to come and make sure that this is part of the trail. You know, people come from other countries, and they go to New York, they go into Niagara College, they need to be stopping by the Susan B. Anthony House, and we'll be able to welcome a significantly higher number of visitors.

You know, Deborah and I have talked about this since my days in Congress, and I know this can be incredible, and I want to congratulate Deborah for your extraordinary work. I know you're going to be celebrating your gala Wednesday. I can't be there, but I'm there in spirit, but I also want a special thanks to Harry Bronson and Jeremy Cooney for their championing this money to make sure that this was in our budget as well as the entire delegation. So, let's give, Deborah Hughes another round of applause for all your work.

So, you know, I love Rochester. I love my cities, but I also have a special place in my heart for the small towns. I actually spent some time in one of our tiny little communities. I used to work at a place called Patchin, New York. If you can find that on a map, God bless you. You have Buffalo, then you have Hamburg, then you have Boston, and then part of Boston is this little intersection called Patchin, and that's where I had my first job making pizzas for five years. So, there was nothing there but a gas station and a pizzeria, but it was charming. Well, at least we thought it was charming. So, it's the small towns that are also the heartbeat of our communities, the small cities, the small villages. And so, I want to make sure that we continue to invest in our downtown revitalization, but also some of our communities are a little bit smaller and you know, where they could possibly spend $10 million when your community is that little, is hard.

So, we started a new program just this year in listening to these mayors of these smaller regions, smaller communities, and we decided to put forth a project for allocating, not just the $10 million, but also a program where they could apply for $4.5 million. So, we are continuing, in my budget, $100 million for the DRIs, the downtown revitalization, which can go to all size communities. But also, our New York Forward program. And there's a little community called the Village of Perry. They're going to be receiving $10 million as part of our downtown revitalization. I want to recognize Mayor Rick Hauser. Mayor, stand up if you're here. Mayor Rick Hauser. Thank you. Congratulations, Mayor. The downtown is so darn cute. It truly, truly is. The thriving arts scene. I've been there. It's on the Historic Register. And it's going to be a top hospitality hub in the Genesee region. You have some really forward-thinking business owners. I've met a lot of the restaurant owners, and I think it's extraordinary.

People shouldn't worry about the proximity to the Sea Serpent, and the Silver Lake Sea Serpent, because, you know, I tell that story all over the place. I say, "People need to go up there and see if it's real." You know, everyone goes overlooking for the Loch Ness monster. There's a Sea Serpent in Silver Lake. I just want you to know that. So, check it out, check it out. Prove me wrong. Prove that there's not one in there. But it's a charming community. And I know I'll be back to Perry to announce the specific projects, but you are an award winner and congratulations to all my friends from Perry.

We know you have plans for enhancing the bicycle routes and sprucing up the downtown businesses. And again, diverse housing options because people want to live there, right? Got to be there. And refurbishing our historic buildings to make sure that they stay. And also, there is something, the Chalk Art Festival - you still have the Chalk Art Festival? I went there one year, they asked me to draw something on the sidewalk. I was so embarrassed. I didn't know how to draw at all. It was so bad. I just did like a giant smiley face. It's like kind of lame I guess. But that was alright. But you're going to have a local planning community and I know that it's going to make a big difference. So again, I'm very excited about that as well.

I'm going to take a drink of water here. I'm announcing so much money, I'm losing my voice. Another community that I know well from traveling on the Erie Canal when I'd go from Buffalo on our boat, and you go, wow, it feels like five hours or so, and you're getting tired at the end of the day. And where are you going to stop? You're going to stop in Medina. $4.5 million for the Village of Medina. It's an extraordinary community. Mayor Mike Sidari here, Mayor here - stand up, Mayor. Congratulations, Mayor.

This community, you know, the sandstone buildings, you know, I brag about this all over. Is that like the largest continuous, still existing sandstone buildings? If not, I say it is anyhow. But it's Sandstone Hall of Fame. The Opera House, Bent's Opera house, which we spent a lot of years trying to bring it back. It's beautiful. You know, and I never go without stopping at Della's Chocolates. She always packs up some of my favorite candies. And the bookstore, and the train museum. And I just - and I've been to, is it Tom's Diner, too? Tom's? No. Rudy. Rudy. Rudy, sorry. Tom's. Tom's in Lockport. I can't mix up my diners. Rudy's. I got my favorite spot at Rudy's. So, Rudy's. So, Medina wants to create recreational space, expand their tourism assets, build housing and invest in small businesses and also really, the land is continuous to the canal. What potential there, you know, to attract more people to come, stay overnight. And so, congratulations to Medina. Love going to Medina all the time. We always hit your Christmas parade, which happens on the coldest day of the year, I'm always convinced. But it's beautiful. So, congratulations to everybody from Medina. Let's give them another round of applause.

And the next award goes to Geneseo. $4.5 million for Geneseo. Mayor Chris Ivers. Mayor, stand up. Mayor, Congratulations. As the mother of a Geneseo graduate, I've spent a lot of time, again, going to the restaurants, and stopping by the dorms, and seeing the downtown, and seeing the great potential again. These communities have something in common. They've got the most spectacular architecture - and well-preserved. You think about the rest of the nation, because we are one of the original 13 colonies, our buildings are a lot older. And you know, for those that remain and that were refurbished over time, we have to continue protecting them so 100 years from now, they can still see that beautiful architecture.

So, we want to make sure that, not just as a center of government and education, that Geneseo can also be a place of entertainment and building on its strengths as a tourist mecca as well. And so, it's important to turn the vacant buildings into downtown anchors and enhance the walkability, improve public amenities. And so, all these communities, I'm so proud of them. I know them very, very well, and I look forward to coming back and announcing their very specific projects once those are decided.

So, because Perry, Medina, and Geneseo had citizens and elected officials who believed that the future could even be better, you are the award recipient. So again, congratulations to those three wonderful communities.

And so, I'm done. I love coming here. You know how I care about this part of the state. And I did grow up at a time when people did think that Upstate New York was overlooked. And it probably was. And I hope you do feel that there's an energy here. Something that we didn't have growing up for a long time is that there's a confidence, a little more of a swagger than there was. And people are really just so proud of their communities, and it's that pride that inspires me as well.

I'm so proud to be Governor of this state and to know that I have leaders like all of you in this room who care deeply about your piece of the world. And because of what you do every single day, you're making that part of the world even better, not just for the people who live here now, but for generations to come. And for that, I thank all of you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everyone.