By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — The state of New York handed out $738 million in Regional Economic Development Council awards Wednesday, with about $4 million of that allocated for projects in Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties.
“For too many years, top-down economic development policies have failed communities across the state and not truly invested in the unique resources and strengths of each of New York’s regions,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the grants. “The strategic plans created during this process have given each region a comprehensive, locally created plan for future economic growth.”
The Mohawk Valley region, of which Otsego and Schoharie counties are part, was awarded $57.9 million, including $1.4 million for Otsego and $1.1 million for Schoharie.
Carolyn Lewis, head of the Otsego County Economic Development Agency, said she had hoped Otsego would get more.
“We had projects that did not get funded, and we had projects that got funded at lesser amounts than they had asked,” she said. “I thought we would have done better.”
But she said about $20 million of the regional total is bond capitalization money, not direct cash grants, so comparing the Otsego total to the regional figure would be misleading. She also pointed out that several region-wide programs were funded, so Otsego and all of the other counties eventually will receive more funding than their county-specific awards indicate.
Lewis expressed particular satisfaction about the allocation of $8 million from the state Community Renewal Fund.
“That money can be used region-wide, and that is very flexible economic development money,” she said.
Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said he was happy with the outcome.
“We had put in requests for New York Main Street (funding), but I gather none of them got funded,” he said. “The intention is there will be some sort of process (by which) the money will be made available for those through the (Community Development Fund) money.”
“The Custom Electronic thing is fabulous news,” he said. “That’s a big number, and it’s going to have a big impact.
“It really supports that idea that we’ve got a small, but high-tech cluster out there.”
The awards were distributed to projects proposed the by 10 regional councils.
In addition to Otsego and Schoharie, the Mohawk Valley council includes Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery and Oneida counties.
Grants to Delaware and Chenango counties were considered as part of the Southern Tier council, which also covers Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties.
The Otsego County awards will go to:
• Custom Electronics Inc. ($350,000) The company plans to expand its research and development and cable assembly operations and develop high voltage capacitor, creating 20 jobs.
• Foothills Performing Arts Center ($50,000) The Oneonta will buy an acoustic shell, carpeting, and performance-quality stage curtains.
• The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ($275,000) The Hall will digitally capture and meta-tag its extensive archive of baseball images, making the entire collection accessible online.
• New York State Historical Association ($100,000) The association will work on a collaboration among Fenimore Art Museum, Glimmerglass Festival and Hyde Hall focused on “Romanticism and the American Landscape.” The Fenimore will exhibit “The Hudson River School, Nature and the American Vision”; Glimmerglass will present the “Flying Dutchman” opera, and Hyde Hall will showcase Romantic literature.
• Village of Cooperstown ($636,854) The village of Cooperstown will use GIGP CFA funding to retrofit its main street with permeable pavement, bioretention and stormwater street trees to treat rainwater. The project is aimed at improving water quality in Willow Brook and Otsego Lake, improve walkability along Main Street, help revitalize downtown, and provide a highly visible and accessible green infrastructure project in the center of the village.
• Village of Cooperstown ($30,000) The village will complete an engineering report to identify upgrade options for the existing wastewater treatment.
In Delaware County, which will receive $844,000 of the $91.1 million allocated for the Southern Tier region, grants will go to:
• MARK Project Inc. ($250,000) It will expand its privately funded small-business assistance program in the Town of Middletown to include the Towns of Roxbury and Andes.
• MARK Project Inc.($200,000) Kirkside of Roxbury Inc. will renovate the historical Kirkside Retirement Home in the Town of Roxbury. The award will be used to renovate the interior and exterior, while improving accessibility.
• MARK Project Inc.($200,000) The MARK Project Inc. will rehabilitate a historic 600-seat movie theater in the Village of Fleischmanns.
• Walton Arms ($194,000) Walton Arms will restore the 1896 National Guard Armory in Walton as a special events center and hotel for conferences, wedding receptions, and community functions.
In Schoharie County, which will receive $1.14 million, grants will go to:
• Cobleskill Agricultural Society ($25,000) The society will will make capital improvements project at the Cobleskill Fairgrounds.
• CountySchoharie County Agriculture Assistance Program ($475,000) The county will assist farms and agribusinesses affected by recent natural disasters. Funding also will be used to acquire up-to-date technology, equipment, and inventory, as well as working capital.
• Howe Caverns ($400,000) The county will assist in the expansion of Howe Caverns Inc.
• Western Catskills Community Revitalization Council Inc. ($243,125) The council will renovate four historic buildings in the Town of Jefferson.
In Chenango County, which receive $555,000, grants will go to:
• Development Chenango Corp. ($250,000) The corporation will renovate six buildings in the Village of New Berlin.
• Sunrise Family Farms Inc.($275,000) Sunrise Family Farms will create a new dairy processing plant focused on specialty yogurt.
• Village of Greene ($30,000) The village will complete an engineering report to evaluate alternatives for upgrading the existing its sewage collection system.