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State awards Owego $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (third from right) on Thursday presented the Village of Owego in Tioga County with a $10 million award as the Southern Tier’s winner in the third round of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. (Photo credit: Mike Groll, Gov. Cuomo’s Flickr account)

OWEGO, N.Y. — The state has awarded the Village of Owego in Tioga County $10 million in funding as the Southern Tier winner in the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The Southern Tier regional economic-development council chose Owego as part of a “competitive review” process, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

Owego will use the $10 million in state funding and investments to “revitalize its downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.” Owego now joins Elmira and Watkins Glen as DRI award winners in the Southern Tier region.

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The village will leverage DRI funding to “build” upon recent public and private investment in downtown buildings and infrastructure, “growing employment opportunities and a strong tourist economy,” Cuomo’s office said. The DRI effort will “boost the local economy by attracting new and strengthening existing business and skilled labor, enhancing cultural and recreational amenities, and addressing the demand for affordable and resilient housing for residents of all ages and income levels,” it added.

The DRI is a component of Southern Tier Soaring, the region’s economic-development blueprint. As in the first two rounds of the DRI, one downtown in each of the state’s 10 regional economic-development areas is selected as a $10 million winner, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The next step

Owego will soon begin the process of developing a “strategic-investment plan to revitalize” its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A local planning committee that’ll include municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders will lead the effort, supported by a team of private-sector experts and state planners.

The plan for downtown Owego 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,” the release explained.

The downtown Owego plan will outline the spending of DRI grant funds on “revitalization” projects that will “advance the community’s vision” for its downtown and that can “leverage and expand” upon the state’s $10 million award. Owego’s plan for the DRI’s third round will be complete in 2019, according to Cuomo’s office.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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