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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces $200 Million in Funding Available for Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward Programs

Total Funding for the Programs Hits $1 Billion Mark with 93 Communities Throughout New York State Having Already Received Awards

Programs Continue to Support Regional Economic Development Goals by Making New York Attractive to Businesses, Families and Visitors

Furthers Governor's Commitment to Expanding Housing Supply and Increasing Affordability by Spurring the Creation of Over 3,000 New Housing Units

First-Ever Forum on Future of the State's Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward Communities Held in Syracuse

Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday, July 26, announced that $200 million in funding is available through the State's two signature downtown revitalization and economic development programs — $100 million each for Round 7 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and Round 2 of the NY Forward program, which focuses on revitalizing smaller and rural downtowns. This year's funding brings the total amount of State investment across all rounds of the programs to $1 billion since 2016. Together, the two programs have awarded $800 million in funding to 93 communities across every region of the state. Applications are available on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward websites. The deadline to apply is September 29 at 4 p.m.

"These two programs have created a wave of revitalization that is sweeping across the state with no signs of slowing," Governor Hochul said. "The programs are not only reinvigorating downtowns, but they are also making our regions and the state as a whole a world-class destination for businesses, families and tourists. The programs are fulfilling the original vision for the DRI of creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns of all shapes, sizes and characters in each region to entice businesses to invest and locate in New York State."

Governor Hochul also hosted the state's first-ever forum in Syracuse on the past, present and future of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and NY Forward programs. The forum, entitled "A Retrospective for the Future of the State's DRI and NY Forward Communities," featured mayors from communities selected in the first five rounds of the DRI, as well as private stakeholders engaged and invested in the DRIs, who will provide advice, insights, lessons-learned and recommendations to inform the future of the two programs and educate prospective applicants on the benefits of participating.

New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "An investment in a downtown is an investment in economic development, quality of life, sustainability and housing that will multiply and generate dividends for years to come. Every dollar we commit through our successful DRI and New York Forward programs leverages multi-fold additional investments, in addition to supporting local governments and existing area businesses by attracting more people, families and businesses that provide a variety of amenities and jobs to the area. The formula for the DRI and NY Forward is working, representing a public/private partnership that serves as a model for the rest of the nation."

DRI was launched in 2016 to accelerate and bolster the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for increased local investments. Led by the Department of State (DOS), DRI communities benefit from partnerships with and coordinated technical assistance provided by New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). The DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative "plan-then-act" strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation. In addition to the traditional applications, this year there is a new option for two or three communities to jointly apply for one DRI award by working together on a shared revitalization at the micro-regional level.

To date, DRI has awarded a total of $700 million to 69 communities in its first six rounds and supported the creation of over 3,000 new housing units. It is estimated that every dollar invested in the DRI generates $3 in additional investments as the revitalization accelerates and projects are completed. This catalytic effect will continue well after DRI and NY Forward communities complete all their projects.

As part of last year's budget, Governor Hochul announced the $100 million NY Forward program to build on the success of the DRI and expand its benefits to more communities across the state. The innovative new program, which received an additional $100 million in funding in this year's Enacted State Budget, supports a more equitable downtown recovery for New York's smaller and rural communities with a focus on hamlet and villages. NY Forward is meant serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a feel and charm that is distinct from larger, metropolitan urban centers funded through DRI. To date, NY Forward has awarded a total of $100 million to 24 communities in its first round.

Like with DRI, DOS and an assigned consultant will work with NY Forward communities through a planning and technical assistance process to develop a slate of readily implementable projects. NY Forward differs, however, by providing additional one-to-one technical assistance to support communities in developing their full applications and throughout the implementation process. NY Forward also offers two funding options for each region—two $4.5 million awards or one $4.5 million award and two $2.25 million awards.

The similarities and differences between the DRI and NY Forward programs are further described in an educational brochure, which is available on the DRI and NY Forward websites.


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