Gov. Hochul Announces $200 Million in Funding To Revitalize Downtown Areas Across NY State
NEW YORK—New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on July 13 a total of $200 million in funding for two major downtown revitalization initiatives: NY Forward, a new program aimed at rejuvenating smaller and rural communities, and Round 6 of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The funding announcement was made in Jamaica, Queens at the ribbon-cutting for Greater Nexus, a brand-new $11-million co-working space funded through Jamaica’s previous DRI award and operated by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in partnership with York College.
“New York’s downtowns are the heart and soul of our communities and regions, and today we’re taking comprehensive action to support them,” Gov. Hochul said. “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has ignited a renaissance in these spaces, which are critical to the continued growth of businesses and local economies, and I am proud to support this vital program. As we grow our downtowns, we are proud to launch a new program—NY Forward—that will provide crucial support to New York’s smaller and rural communities to help bring them back to the bustling towns and villages they once were.”
DRI was launched in 2016 to accelerate and bolster the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all 10 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 implementation. The governor added a new component to DRI this year that allows two or three communities to apply jointly for one award. To date, DRI has awarded a total of $600 million to 59 communities in its first five rounds.
As part of this year’s budget, Gov. Hochul announced NY Forward to build on DRI’s momentum. The new program, which is funded through $100 million in this year’s Enacted State Budget, will support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s smaller and rural communities with a focus on hamlets and villages. NY Forward is meant to serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a feel and charm that is distinct from larger, metropolitan urban centers funded through DRI, state officials noted.
Like DRI, DOS and an assigned consultant will work with NY Forward communities through a planning and technical assistance process to develop a slate of readily implementable projects, with each REDC nominating the winners. NY Forward differs, however, by providing capacity-building workshops and technical assistance from consultants to assist communities in developing their full applications and throughout the implementation process. NY Forward also offers two funding options for each region—two $4.5 million awards; or one $4.5 million grant and two $2.25 million grants. The similarities and differences between the DRI and NY Forward were further detailed in a new brochure released by the governor.
Applications for NY Forward will launch later this month and winners are expected to be selected later this year.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Creating opportunity means smart economic development strategies to ensure communities have the resources and infrastructure needed to support businesses and residents. Through State investments, New York is working to fuel economic growth in Southeast Queens that will support businesses, create jobs, and catalyze new investments. The Greater Nexus co-working space will leverage these investments to create affordable workspaces for entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers to grow their businesses that will drive Downtown Jamaica’s revitalization for years to come.”
New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher, Partner at Fisher Brothers, and Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, City University of New York Chancellor, said, “Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s Greater Nexus will foster entrepreneurship and innovation, creating a boon of economic opportunity for Southeast Queens. The NYCREDC is proud to support the Greater Nexus co-working space, which will provide affordable workspaces to help small businesses thrive while creating jobs and investment opportunities that will support the revitalization of Downtown Jamaica.”
In terms of the new Jamaica, Queens project, located at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., Greater Nexus is a state-of-the-art facility featuring 10,000 square feet of affordable and flexible workspace that can accommodate 75-100 individuals. Amenities include a collaborative open workspace, conference rooms, soundproof phone booths, and a podcast room for content creators. Members can choose from multiple work environments starting at a hot desk in the collaborative area, a dedicated cubicle, or choose from a range of private office sizes. As an extension of the coworking space, Greater Nexus also offers a large modular training space to host events, educational programing, networking and mentoring opportunities. This training space will be available to the greater Jamaica community as well as to the co-working members. The new space provides access to business equipment and services to help foster innovation and business growth in Downtown Jamaica.
The Greater Nexus coworking space was supported by a $1.65-million Empire State Development capital grant, recommended by the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, and a $685,230 Homes and Community Renewal grant. Additional funding was provided by the Deutsche Bank Foundation and National Grid and New Market Tax Credits through NYCEDC and Capital One Bank. The Greater Nexus co-working space will be operated by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.