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MV Chamber Alliance meeting covers downtown revitalization

By Traci DeLore (tdelore@cnybj.com)

Date:

WHITESBORO, N.Y. — The Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley met on May 3 to celebrate 25 years of the alliance and to hear from one of the region’s newest companies, Wolfspeed, about its plans for employment. 

Adam Milton, VP of Wolfspeed’s Mohawk Valley Fab silicon-carbide wafer fabrication facility that just opened in Marcy, said the company currently employs more than 250 people and is looking to hire many more. Wolfspeed projects it will employ 600 by 2029.

“We’ve had a lot of employees move from out of town,” he said, noting that he and his family relocated to Clinton from North Carolina.

As those employees move to the area, it’s crucial that the area offers them the things they need to thrive, Jennifer Waters, VP of business development and communications at Mohawk Valley EDGE, told the gathering.

That’s why things like workforce development, expanding childcare, improving broadband access, and fostering business resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are all crucial.

Creating vibrant downtown districts is also vital, she said, and that’s why the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) with $600 million in funding is so important.

“These compact, walkable downtowns are key,” Waters said. By the end of 2021, the Mohawk Valley region had received $40 million in DRI funding.

A number of Mohawk Valley communities have already received funding including Oneonta, Rome, and Utica. They have used the money for a host of projects including Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center in Oneonta, Copper City Lofts set to break ground later this year in Rome, and plans to redevelop underutilized buildings and bolster arts and cultural offerings in Utica.

Little Falls is using funding to plan and develop its waterfront district from a group of separate development areas into one more cohesive district highlighting the Erie Canal and Mohawk River.

To the west, Oneida has already used funding to open a new, modern library and will allocate additional funds for projects including wastewater upgrades and creating pocket parks around the city.

Prospective recipients of the DRI funding are nominated by their local regional economic development council based on the downtown’s potential for transformation. The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council plans to meet in mid-June.

Established in 1997, the Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley consists of 23 chambers of commerce and affiliate partners from six counties. In 2021, the Genesis Group took on the administrative duties of the alliance, which became a committee within the framework of Genesis.

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