Regional Economic Development Council opens application for latest round of initiative funding; grants helped improve, bolster local development projects

In this February 2020 file photo, Mike Yevoli, regional director of the Capital Region REDC, speaks during a press conference and ribbon cutting on opening night at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs, after two years of renovation.

FILE - Mike Yevoli, regional director of the Capital Region REDC

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The latest round of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative opened its application period this past week, allowing each region in the state to compete for state funding for local projects that aim to improve their communities and create economic growth. 

Since the first round of REDC awards in 2011, there have been 1,067 funded through Consolidated Fund Application awards. Eighty-two percent of them are on schedule or completed. The projects received a total of $524.2 million in CFA awards, which leveraged $2.9 billion in total investments. 

A report released last year by the Capital Region REDC estimates the projects have helped create nearly 6,000 jobs in the region, while helping employers retain more than 9,000 jobs.

Likely the largest project in Schenectady to receive funding is the Mohawk Harbor project, a mixed-use development of riverfront property that includes Rivers Casino & Resort, a 680-foot public dock, visitor center and more. 

Mike Yevoli, regional director of the Capital Region REDC, said the development is a great example of the success that can be achieved with the help of the state funding.

“I was born and raised in Amsterdam, New York. I’m 53-years-old. That site closed down the year I was born in 1970 and it was a rotting testimony to the rust belt until you have what you have there today,” Yevoli said. “Which included getting funding through the CFA from [the state] Canal Cooperation, from Empire State Development, the Restore New York program [and] the Brownfield Tax Credit. No developer could have or would have invested in that without those incentives and it allowed them to be aggressive to get that type of development.”

Schenectady County also received more than $500,000 since 2011 to develop and improve its trailways, including the Erie Canalway Trail that starts in the City of Schenectady, the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and the Mohawk River Trail.

In the fourth round of the REDC’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Schenectady was awarded $9.7 million for its 400-acre downtown area in 2019. That investment leveraged nearly $50 million in private and other funding, a state report found. 

The funding built off previous investments to the Rivers Casino & Resort, which opened two years before, and Proctor’s Theatre. The nearly $10 million went toward projects to redevelop vacant or underutilized sites like the southern corner of State and Erie, the former Coyne Textile building on Erie Boulevard north of State Street and former Pentagon Restaurant and Sears buildings on Erie Boulevard south of State Street. It also contributed $3 million toward a total $8.3 million project to build new housing on State Street. 

The DRI funded $2 million toward extending North Jay Street and improving Maxon Road Extension, which totaled $4,147,000.

Not all improvements are as flashy as the Rivers Casino & Resort, but are arguably just as important. In the eighth year of REDC awards, the city of Schenectady received $5 million from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the North Ferry Street Pump Station for sewage overflow improvements. The total projected cost for the improvements is nearly $15 million. 

“We see Frog Alley Brewing, Mohawk Harbor, Palace and Proctor’s theaters. Those things everyone knows and sees that they had ESD CFA money,” Yevoli said. “We’ve also looked at water and sewer, which is so critical, but you don’t see it.”

The current application process for Round XIII ends July 28th and the awards are typically announced mid-fall. 

Categories: News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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