Return home

Clinton Chamber celebrates growth, eyes future enhancements

Alexis Manore
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 3/15/23

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce celebrated growth throughout last year and looked forward to what’s ahead at its annual meeting.   

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Clinton Chamber celebrates growth, eyes future enhancements


CLINTON  — The Clinton Chamber of Commerce celebrated growth throughout last year and looked forward to what’s ahead at its annual meeting.   

Members of the chamber spoke about the Clinton and Kirkland’s recent win of $10 million in New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funding, honored the late chamber board of directors president and provided updates on how 2022 was for the chamber, at its annual meeting, which took place on Wednesday, March 15. 

Clinton and Kirkland DRI presentation 

Mike Debraggio, president of the Clinton Kirkland Improvement Corporation (CKIC) said the CKIC formed in December 2021 as a way to prove that Clinton and Kirkland were ready and able to manage a $10 million grant.    

“Other DRI winners have full-time planners in their communities, and our proposal was coming from a group of volunteers,” he said. “We had received feedback on our 2019 and 2021 proposals that this could be a little bit of a concern … so we incorporated to show that level of commitment.”  

There are 21 projects in CKIC’s proposal, which total over $45 million. CKIC split these proposals into five categories: modernize infrastructure for growth and sustainable practices; beautifying an active downtown with a strong sense of place; attracting new businesses and strengthening existing family-owned establishments with history as a guide; increasing opportunities for recreation, tourism, and healthy lifestyles; and enhancing arts, culture and education offerings for residents and visitors. 

Clinton Mayor Elizabeth Tantillo said the state has outlined a process for figuring out where the funding will go. She said that a project manager, who will guide the community through the process, has been assigned. 

“They’re not going to just give us $10 million and say, ‘OK, enjoy,’” Tantillo said.  

She said the first phase of the process will launch in the beginning of April and will last six to seven months. It will start with the creation of a local planning committee made up of Clinton and Kirland residents that will approve the recommendations from the DRI Core Team.   

The DRI Core Team will meet weekly to analyze projects to make recommendations to the local planning committee. It will be made up of the state’s consultants, local co-chairs and state agencies that provide DRI funding. 

When the final projects have been decided and the plan is ready, the governor will announce the projects that will receive funding. 

“There is some flexibility in the process. If one of the projects does not get funded that’s in our proposal, we still get access to the whole $10 million,” Tantillo said. “So we can look at new projects, but they will have to be vetted.”     

The second phase will be carrying out the projects that have received the funding. Tantillo said there are time limits of up to four years for the completion of the projects, but the state would like for all the projects to be complete in two years.  

“It will be really amazing and transformational to see our town or our village change so much so quickly,” Tantillo said. 

“We’re ready. It’s time to go,” she added. 

Karen Ostinett tribute

The chamber honored the late Karen Ostinett, former president of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, who died in December 2022. 

Ostinett was awarded Volunteer of the Year, which her sister accepted on her behalf.

Jay Williams, a member of the chamber board of directors, said Ostinitt was instrumental in establishing the award in 2018. 

“Karen would never have considered nominating herself, she would never have thought about that, and yet Karen was extremely important to the community,” he said. 

“She was someone who was always there, behind the scenes, getting things done,” Williams added. 

Ostinett worked at Lutheran Care and Community Wellness Partners for many years, most recently as Director of Funds and Volunteer Development. Jeremy Rutter, president and CEO of Community Wellness Partners led a moment of silence for her.    

“Today, we want to pause with sadness and gratitude in our hearts as we reflect on the dedication, passion and service that Karen graced us with,” Rutter said.  

Williams said that part of Ostinett’s work for the Lutheran Foundation was to collect donations. He presented Rutter with Ostinett’s last donation that she obtained for the foundation. 

Chamber updates 

Molly Marris, executive director of the chamber, said there are currently 159 chamber members. 

She said that 20 new members have joined that chamber since last March. 

“Things are looking a little bit different post-pandemic as well, because there’s not all brick-and-mortar businesses that are joining the chamber, we have a lot of online or single people who are working out of their homes or other businesses,” Marris said.  

The chamber held five ribbon cutting ceremonies in 2022; for Evolve Gifts, Lucianna’s Boutique, Dreamy’s Candy, CNY Green Bucket Project and to celebrate Daughter for Hire’s 10th anniversary.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here