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Rome wins $10 million in state funding in downtown revitalization initiative

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (third from right) on Thursday joined officials from the City of Rome and Oneida County to announce Rome as a second-round winner of $10 million in the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. (Photo credit: Cuomo Flickr page)

ROME, N.Y. — The state has awarded Rome $10 million as the Mohawk Valley winner in the second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday visited Rome’s Capitol Theatre to announce the award.

With the win, Rome will use $10 million in state funding and investments to help try to “revitalize” its downtown neighborhoods and “generate new opportunities for long-term growth.”


Rome will now begin the process of developing a “strategic investment plan” to improve its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant, Cuomo’s office said.

A local planning committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders will lead the effort. A team of private sector experts and state planners will support the work.

The strategic-investment plan for downtown Rome will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are “poised for implementation.”

Rome’s “strategic” investment plan for its downtown, as well as the plans that the other nine DRI winners are developing, will “guide the investment” of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will “advance” the community’s vision for its downtown and that can “leverage and expand” upon the state’s $10 million investment, Cuomo’s office said.

Plans for DRI’s second round will be complete in early 2018.

“This investment is the latest step in our strategic efforts to help the Mohawk Valley’s economy grow and prosper,” Cuomo said in the news release. “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative engages local communities and creates new opportunities for growth to attract new businesses and young people and help downtowns across New York thrive.”

The City of Oneonta was the Mohawk Valley region’s winner in the first DRI round in 2016.


Selection process

As in the first round of the DRI, the state will select one municipality from each of the state’s 10 regional economic-development areas as a $10 million winner.

New York expects to spend $100 million to help communities “identify catalytic downtown projects to boost the local economy.”

The past decade of “targeted” investments in environmental design, tourist destinations, entrepreneurial innovation, and transportation choices have prepared Rome for the DRI, Cuomo’s office said.

Weighing several criteria, the Mohawk Valley regional economic-development council reviewed Rome’s proposal for downtown revitalization, together with the proposals from other participant communities from the Mohawk Valley region before recommending Rome as its nominee for the $10 million prize.

The criteria included the stipulation that the downtown area should be “compact, with well-defined boundaries,” according to the news release. In addition, the municipality should be of “sufficient size to support a vibrant, year-round downtown.”

The criteria also stipulate that the downtown area can “capitalize on prior or catalyze future” private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas. The municipality should have identified “transformative” projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years, Cuomo’s office noted.


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