The Recorder

City loses second bid for $10M downtown grant

By JOHN PURCELL

Recorder News Staff

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa was “deeply upset” the city lost its bid to secure $10 million through the second round of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative to the City of Rome.

“I think it’s a shame,” Villa said following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Thursday afternoon that Rome will receive $10 million in state funds and investments as the Mohawk Valley region winner for the second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

Villa said while Amsterdam has received “a good number of grants,” being selected as the regional winner would have provided a transformational opportunity for the city’s downtown.

“If you’re going to make a transformational change into a downtown that’s been basically vacant for more than a decade then this is what we needed,” Villa said. “With all the private dollars that have been invested in the city, for us not to get this really is very disappointing.”

Amsterdam had submitted an application last year for the first-round DRI, but the City of Oneonta was the regional winner and received $10 million.

Villa commended Montgomery County economic development staff, who crafted Amsterdam’s second round submission, for their “dedication, hardwork and effort” on the city’s application.

Kenneth Rose, CEO of the Montgomery County Business Development Center, said he was disappointed Amsterdam was not selected as the winner, but he was hopeful several proposed projects would be funded through the state’s annual Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.

“A lot of the projects we had submitted as part of our DRI application last year were funded through the CFA process,” Rose said. “We do have projects in the DRI that are going through the CFA process this year as well.”

Rose said submitting a DRI application seems to strengthen a community’s CFA submissions, too.

“We’re still optimistic some of the projects that were in the DRI for this year will get funded through the CFA process, which the governor will announce sometime in November or December of this year,” Rose said.

During Cuomo’s speech Thursday announcing the Mohawk Valley winner, he told attendees gathered at the Capitol Theatre in Rome that the city’s plan was “very strong” and “hit all the key elements.”

Cuomo said the competition, however, was “very tough,” with 104 applications submitted statewide for the second round of the DRI.

“It’s amazing the time and attention that went into putting these 104 applications together. There is not a bad application in the 104,” Cuomo said. “There’s no shame in not winning first place, given that level of competition.”

A “first place winner” is selected from each of the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.

Cuomo said Thursday there were originally only going to be 10 winners, each getting $10 million, but the state has since expanded the DRI competition to award second, third and fourth places winners, respectively receiving $8 million, $6 million and $5 million.

A representative from the Governor’s Office could not be reached Thursday evening to provide additional information about second, third and fourth place awards, or when these other winners would be announced.

Downtown boundaries for the Amsterdam’s second round application encompassed a smaller area, which was based off of feedback received during the first round, according to Rose.

He had said this year’s application consisted an area along the South Side and stretched across the Mohawk River to the western section of East Main Street and the Riverfront Center.

A video was also produced for Amsterdam’s second round application, which has not done for the first round. Rose had said the video highlighted existing and future investment within the city.