The NYS Department of State (DOS) today is reminding municipalities across the state of application and guidance materials now available, as well as capacity-building workshops and technical assistance opportunities, for two major downtown revitalization programs announced recently by Governor Hochul—NY Forward, a new program aimed at rejuvenating smaller and rural communities, and Round 6 of the state’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Communities interested in applying will learn community and economic development strategies, resources, and tools from experts, how to develop a competitive application, and opportunities to receive one-on-one technical assistance as they develop their application.
“We are extremely excited to expand the Governor’s commitment to downtown revitalization into smaller and rural communities this year with NY Forward,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “The DRI has ushered in a resurgence in downtown revitalization that is sweeping across NYS. Governor Hochul listened to the needs of smaller and rural communities and responded with NY Forward so that all communities, whatever their size or capacity, can access these tremendous opportunities to reinvigorate their treasured downtowns.”
The NY Forward and The Downtown Revitalization Initiative offer new opportunities to guide, empower and educate potential applicants that are looking to bring new investment, and vibrancy to their downtowns. Communities interested in NY Forward and/or DRI are encouraged to submit a preliminary “Intent to Apply” form by August 10th. An educational brochure is also available.
The first five rounds of DRI provided $600 million to 59 communities for projects that are transforming downtowns throughout the State. NY Forward accelerates and expands that momentum by providing $100 million in funding, as well as capacity-building workshops and technical assistance, for the type of smaller and rural downtowns typically found in villages, hamlets and other small, neighborhood-scale municipal centers.
Communities applying for NY Forward or a joint application under DRI that submit the Intent to Apply form are entitled to receive one-on-one technical assistance to assist with developing program applications that include quality, readily implementable projects. Capacity-building workshops will also be offered to all interested applicants during the pre-application phase to local leadership engage their communities through the inter-connected components of downtown revitalization and provide the tools and resources available to support them in realizing their vision for their downtowns. Similar to previous rounds of the DRI, winning communities will have a team of private planning consultants and state experts to support them in the development of their Strategic Investment Plan.
NY Forward offers two funding options for each Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) region—either two $4.5 million awards or one $4.5 million award and two $2.25 million awards. The DRI provides one $10 million award to each region; however, new to the program this year, two or three communities can submit a joint application for the $10 million award if they have a shared, inter-connected vision for their downtowns. The REDCs will review all applications and nominate communities to the State for final award determinations.
DRI was launched in 2016 to accelerate and bolster the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for increased local investments. Led by the Department of State (DOS) with assistance from the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate and ongoing implementation.