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Jamestown residents learned on Thursday night, August 18, that zero is a mighty fine number when there are enough of them on a check. It took seven of them to spell $10,000,000.
Howard Zemski, president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, told a gathering of Jamestown’s community leaders at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, “I get to say – on behalf of Governor Cuomo who is extremely proud of you – Congratulations! You have won a $10,000,000 grant.” Zemski’s announcement was greeted with a long and boisterous standing ovation.
Zemski then presented the $10,000,000 check to Jamestown’s Mayor Sam Teresi on behalf of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive plan to rebuild and transform local neighborhoods, city centers and urban complexes into vibrant and vital communities. Zemski described himself as a part time resident and full time tax payer in Chautauqua County as he expressed his personal gratitude for the grant as a local citizen.
Mayor Teresi credited his staff, “Team Jamestown”, the Gebbe Foundation, the “Dream Team”, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, collaboration with the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, many others, and especially the people of Jamestown themselves for the success of the city’s grant application. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant is part of New York’s $100 million dollar commitment to advancing urban vitality within city centers across the state.
“People come together in a downtown core,” Zemski said. “They come to the businesses and services that thrive there.” Urban revitalization, then, becomes a key to bringing citizens and neighbors into the business of building New York’s economic success. “When we do that,” Zemski said, “good things will happen.”
One of Governor Cuomo’s signature legislative proposals for 2016 targeted downtown revitalization for an overall investment of $100 million. Within each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, communities were invited to submit applications outlining the plans and strategic advantages that would identify it as the single most powerful economic and social driver in its council. One such key community in each council would be awarded a $10,000,000 share of New York State’s investment.
“Good for you. You’ve done it,” Zemski said. “You’ve created an excellent plan.” That community in this council is clearly Jamestown.
The funds are earmarked for the kinds of community projects that will attract and retain residents, businesses and visitors, improve housing, transportation and pedestrian infrastructure and overall economic development. “We want to create a place everyone will want to be,” Zemski said. A previously completed economic impact statement for Jamestown’s urban development, for instance, projected that such development of the city’s urban core would generate a projected $23 million annual economic impact.
Zemski’s congratulatory comments were echoed by State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Jamestown, and State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, who said Jamestown has endless potential and a great future because the $10 million award is a tribute to the outstanding work being done by Jamestown’s leaders, stakeholders and foundations.
County Executive Vince Horrigan congratulated Jamestown, reflecting on the recent summer Olympics by saying, ”We’re a long way from Rio, but this is a gold medal day for Chautauqua County. We’re going to leverage this grant,” Horrigan told Zemski, “and you’re going to see what we can do with the horsepower we have in this community. We’re fired up.”
Keep an eye on Jamestown. Start with http://www.jamestownny.net/ and see what is coming in the city’s future.