Recorder News Staff
Montgomery County projects were awarded $4.56 million through the latest round of Regional Economic Develop Council funding, which includes four projects in the City of Amsterdam awarded $1.26 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council was awarded $81.9 million to provide assistance for 88 projects through the Sixth Round of the REDC Awards.
More than $700 million was awarded overall during the sixth round of the REDC initiative.
The Mohawk Valley was also one of the five councils designated as a "Top Performer," with the region awarded the third highest funding allocation of the 10 councils statewide. The five Top Performers will receive up to $25 million in additional Empire State Development grant funding to support priority projects, according to the Governor's Office.
Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort was "extremely happy" with the projects awarded funding in the latest round.
"Montgomery County did very, very well this year," Ossenfort said. "I've always said if we're going to move this county forward, it's going to take help from the state and federal government."
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said the city was a "big winner" in the REDC awards and the projects should help "spark small business activity and entice new business interests."
The Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency was awarded $500,000 towards the Edson Street Industrial Park Improvement Project, which will upgrade the electrical service line in the park from a 13.3-kilovolt to a 69-kilovolt service.
AIDA Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky said the electricity service improvement would accommodate the needs of existing tenants looking to expand operations, along with allowing the agency to attract new tenants.
"It's an important project for us, because without that funding we would have put everything in jeopardy as far as future expansion of any businesses in our industrial park," Zakrevsky said.
Zakrevsky said AIDA is working with up to three companies possibly looking to expand within the park, but without the improvement project the future needs of the companies could not be met.
The City of Amsterdam was awarded $500,000 for the Sanford Clock Tower Renovation Project, which involves renovating the fifth and sixth floors of the historic building to start an "incubator accelerator space" for new entrepreneurs and enterprises, according to Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Kenneth Rose.
"We're really excited about what has been going on there and this just builds momentum for that area within the city," Rose said. "That's a critical project to us and we think it's going to go a long way to redeveloping that portion of the city."
Another project geared budding or smaller businesses was awarded $200,000, which will allow the city to start the Amsterdam Microenterprise Program. Rose said more information about the program would be shared publicly in the future, but funds are eyed to be available for start-up costs of new businesses and helping existing small businesses make improvements.
Amsterdam was also awarded $62,000 towards completing construction of the John A. Sampone Sr. Memorial Children's Park, which creates a green space and playground area within the South Side Culinary and Hospitality District.
John Sampone Jr. envisioned creating the park on the South Side for children to memorialize his late father. Sampone has worked on the project for more than a decade.
Villa said the city's partnership with Montgomery County on economic development initiatives has proved to be "extremely successful" and he applauded the efforts of Ossenfort and Montgomery County Business Development Center staff.
"I think we have proved the city and county can partner on economic development," Villa said. "This effort of combining resources has really proven itself by looking at these awards today."
Projects outside the city
Rose said nearly all of the projects submitted through the county Business Development Center were awarded funds.
"These awards and this funding is critical to these priority projects that we have ongoing at the county level," Rose said in a news release.
The Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency was awarded $1.5 million for the Florida Business Park Extension project, which was the largest amount awarded for a project in the county. The county IDA will make improvements to Route 5S leading to the Florida Business Park Extension through the project, while makes way for the proposed Dollar General Distribution Center.
Rose said the roadway needs to be widened on Route 5S and a four-way intersection must be installed at the entrance of the proposed distribution facility. The intersection would also provide an access point to the 60 acres owned by the county IDA across the street from the proposed Dollar General development.
"This was extremely critically as far as pushing that park along and as part of our ongoing discussions with Dollar General and getting them to commit to the site," Rose said. "It's also going to help us to market the other side of State Highway 5S."
The only approval remaining for the Dollar General project is from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Rose. He said Dollar General project is estimated to cost around $90 million and create 430 jobs.
The county was awarded $671,575 toward relocating the county Public Safety Facility Emergency Services & Sheriff's Garage out of a flood plain and onto land next to the county jail and newly constructed Emergency Management offices.
The Villages of Fultonville and Fonda Joint Sanitary Sewer Improvements project was awarded $900,000, which will help fund sewer infrastructure improvements to the joint sewer plant.
The Village of Canajoharie, in partnership with Montgomery County, was awarded $85,000 to complete analyses to gauge the potential for and challenges of redeveloping the former Beechnut site.
Ossenfort said to date there has been a "very limited" amount local taxpayer money used towards redeveloping the 26-acre site with 600,000 square feet of existing building space.
The Arkell Museum was awarded funds for two projects, which includes $43,000 to hire a curator of Education and Public Engagement and $60,000 toward completing a feasibility study to review moving the existing below ground storage facility above ground to remediate potential flooding issues.
The new curator position at the museum would focus on engaging the local and surrounding communities through programs highlighting its collection of American art and Mohawk Valley history.
The Schoharie River Center was awarded $41,500 for a similar project, which involves hiring an Arts Programming and Outreach Coordinator to expand community arts activities across Montgomery, Schoharie and Otsego counties. The project is planned to include the launch of a digital storytelling program for teens to document Erie Canal communities.
The county had applied for a third time to receive funds for the Village of Fonda Canalside Park Improvements Project, but it was unsuccessful this round. Rose said the county would continue to apply for the project in future rounds.
The funding would be used to create a new Canalside Park off South Bridge Street in the Fonda, which would create public access for an inaccessible stretch along the Mohawk River.
Cuomo said the regional councils replaced the "one-size fits all" approach to economic develop with a "ground-up" strategy focusing on cooperation and investing in regional assets to spur opportunities and growth.
"By bringing together ideas from local government and community leaders with state resources, we are giving these councils the tools to create jobs and drive economic activity in their communities for generations to come," Cuomo said in a prepared statement.
The Mid-Hudson REDC was awarded the most funds at $83.3 million to support 105 projects, with the region containing the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
The second highest amount of funding was awarded to the Capital Region REDC with $83.1 million awarded to 116 projects. The Capitol Region council represents Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.
Cuomo established the regional councils initiative in 2011 and more than $4.6 billion has been awarded over the six rounds. There have been more than 5,200 projects awarded funds over the last six years, which is projected to create or retain more than 210,000 jobs, according to the Governor's Office.