Officials tout area’s economic progress
WHITESBORO — Officials from the Mohawk Valley shared updates on projects and initiatives that are changing the area at the Genesis Group and the Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley’s 18th annual Economic Development forum Tuesday at Hart’s Hill Inn.
Ray Durso, CEO of the Genesis Group, opened the forum by holding a moment of silence for William “Bill” Guglielmo, former president of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, who recently died.
“This is Bill’s first chamber alliance event that he’s missing in over 26 years,” Durso said. “Our love for Bill and his legacy to us will last forever.”
Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency
John Piseck, CEO of the Herkimer County IDA, spoke about brownfield sites, which is previously developed land that is assumed to be contaminated by hazardous materials, and is slated for redevelopment.
One such brownfield site is the Duofold property in the village of Ilion, which recently received $2 million in Restore NY funding to redevelop the site into a mixed-use area with 81 residences.
Piseck said another brownfield site is the EDF Renewables Warrior solar project, which is located between Frankfort and Utica on Route 5. He said the site used to be a landfill, but it will soon become a 7.5 megawatt solar energy generation system.
Piseck said the IDA is working with the village of Herkimer to revitalize an area of 32 acres, which includes the village’s main street, through New York’s Department of the State’s Brownfield Opportunity Area Program.
“This $200,000 grant, combined with $200,000 from the EPA, we’re going to be able to invest about $400,000 in the downtown of the village of Herkimer to see what we can do to bring that back.”
Mohawk Valley EDGE
Steve DiMeo, president of Mohawk Valley EDGE, said that the group has three priorities for this year: adapting resources to business’ needs, strategic site development and business attraction services.
He said that as Wolfspeed continues to hire new employees, it is set to begin producing its 200 mm silicon carbide chips and fulfilling its orders beginning in April.
“When they built the fab, only 60% of the clean room was built out, the other 40% was shelved and would be built on a later date,” Durso said. “They’re actually starting the process to build that out because it has so much demand for product that they’re going to need that space sooner.”
DiMeo said that MV EDGE is also looking to develop at the Chaminade site in Marcy, the triangle parcel at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, and at the Marcy Nanocenter.
City of Utica
Brian Thomas, commissioner of urban and economic development for the city of Utica, spoke about upcoming changes to the city.
The city has many residential projects that it’s working on, and many have received funding from the state.
Some of the housing projects include the Mayro Building, Artspace Utica, Johnson Park Center, the warehouse at 700 Broad Street and the Chancellor Apartments.
Construction on many of these projects are set to begin this spring.
Thomas said that the city is using much of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding on city parks, because they help sustain the mental and physical health of residents.
Chancellor Park on Bleecker street will have pickleball courts, bocce courts and an interactive fountain installed. An amphitheater and disk golf course will be installed at Roscoe Conkling Park. The ski lift will receive upgrades and an outdoor skating rink will be installed. T.R. Proctor Park will receive a new skate park, playground, dog park and splash pad.
The city is also working to renovate the Bertolini Clubhouse at Valley View and the 1933 building at Harbor Point.
City of Rome
Matthew Andrews, deputy director of the Department of Community and Economic Development for the City of Rome, spoke about housing developments in Rome.
Andrews focused on five projects: Woodhaven, the Delta Community, Air City Lofts, Pine Ridge Landing and Copper City Artist Lofts. These projects are a mix of suburban and urban areas.
Woodhaven is located between E. Dominick Street and the Griffiss Business and Technology Park. It is hoping to have a 250 unit lot subdivision. In addition, there will be a new YMCA and more residential units that are not included in the 250 units.
Delta Community is located off of Chestnut Street, and will have 50 units. There is an additional 150 acres in the property that is looking to be developed. It is currently under construction and is hoping to open this year.
Air City Lofts are located in the Griffiss Business and Technology Park. It is currently working on construction in phases two and three, because phase one has been completed and has tenants living in the building. There will be 256 residential units and 80,000 square feet of commercial space.
Pine Ridge Landing is located off of Turin Road and includes 210 single family lots and is pending further site plan review.
Copper City Artist Lofts are located in downtown Rome and includes 64 residential units and two commercial units. This project was funded through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Empire State Development
Allison Madmoune, Mohawk Valley regional director for Empire State Development (ESD), spoke about the funding opportunities that are available to municipalities. Many of the projects discussed at the forum received funding from ESD.
Restore NY provides localities with funding to revitalize commercial and residential properties.
“It gives municipalities the opportunity to eliminate blight, and there is no shortage of blight in Upstate New York, particularly in the Mohawk Valley,” Madmoune said.
In 2022, Restore NY provided $4 million for the Mayro Building in Utica, $2 million for the Duofold site in Ilion, $1 million for the former Boston Store in Utica, $2 million for 233 W. Dominick St. in Rome and others.
Madmoune said the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward are also important and popular in the Mohawk Valley. In round five, Gloversville and Little Falls were the winners of DRI funding and received $10 million each.
Madmoune said the winners of round six will be announced soon. She said in this year’s budget, there is $100 million each designated for DRI and NY Forward.
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