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CUOMO ANNOUNCES $131 MILLION IN HUD ASSISTANCE TO LAUNCH HISTORIC CANAL INITIATIVE TO REVITALIZE UPSTATE NY ECONOMYU.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced $131 million in HUD assistance to 57 communities along the Erie Canal Corridor and connecting waterways, launching what he called "a sweeping and historic initiative that will increase tourism, create jobs and spark an economic rebirth across upstate New York."
In a letter on the Canal Corridor Initiative, President Clinton said it will "preserve the rich heritage and revitalize the economic potential of New York's Canal Corridor." The President said he was "confident that ... the Canal Corridor Initiative will be an outstanding success."
The HUD assistance will go to over 200 projects along the 524-mile canal system and is expected to create about 5,000 jobs.
The aid will act as a catalyst that is expected to spark additional investment of about $102 million by the private sector and $57.3 million in other public funds.
"We expect the Canal Corridor Initiative will pump about $290 million into communities along the canal, and transform the canal system into a mighty engine for economic growth and job creation in New York," Cuomo said. "We will make this initiative succeed as a comprehensive, end-to-end revitalization project that will benefit all New York."
"Today, we begin building the New York of tomorrow," Cuomo said. "We will create a new Canal Corridor that will act as a magnet for tourists and state residents -- a Canal Corridor revitalized with new marinas, parks, trails, restaurants, retail stores, businesses, restored historic sites, and other recreational and commercial facilities."
"Just as the Erie Canal built New York's economy in the 19th Century, our new Canal Corridor Initiative will help rebuild the state's economy in the 21st," Cuomo said. "We will transform this great canal system from an abandoned commercial waterway into a premier tourist attraction."
The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, originally was a major link between the Northeast and the Midwest. However, railroads, modern highways and the St. Lawrence Seaway took over the canal's role as a commercial waterway.
Cuomo was announcing the HUD assistance in news conferences along the canal in North Tonawanda and Rochester today, where he released a list of projects to be funded in the western half of New York.
The Secretary planned to release lists of projects receiving assistance in central and eastern New York in announcements Friday in Oswego and Albany. He will be joined by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in Albany to announce an additional canal initiative.
Under the program announced today, HUD will provide $74.2 million in low-interest loan guarantees and $56.8 million in grants to communities along the entire Erie Canal Corridor and connecting waterways.
Elected officials, business, labor and community representatives are joining Cuomo at the announcements to show their support for the Canal Corridor Initiative.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: "The contributions of New York's canals once brought prosperity to the towns along their banks. In 1987, we secured the first federal funds for restoration of the Erie Canal. Today's awards will continue this noble enterprise by giving cities and towns along our canals important seed money to support their own redevelopment efforts."
Senator Alfonse D'Amato said: "The Canal Corridor Initiative will combine public and private funding to create jobs and attract visitors to the Canal region. The communities along the Canal will be able to utilize these funds to expand and highlight their unique attractions and recreation facilities."
The Canal Corridor Initiative, which was launched by Cuomo last year when he was an Assistant Secretary at HUD, is designed to put federal resources to work as part of a long-term and coordinated commitment to upstate New York. The initiative is community-run and locally driven. It will generate a regional synergy around tourism, promote job creation and employment, foster public-private partnerships, and require no new government bureaucracy.
The HUD assistance will help finance creation or expansion of the following: waterfront parks and trails in 21 communities; cultural and historic attractions in 16 communities; housing and commercial revitalization projects in 13 communities; docks, marinas and boating facilities in 24 communities; restaurants and lodging facilities in 15 communities; and streetscape and infrastructure projects in 41 communities. In addition, business assistance programs in 25 communities will be funded. Some communities will use a portion of their grants to lower their borrowing costs by subsidizing interest rates on their loans.
HUD's Canal Corridor Initiative complements the New York State Canal Revitalization Program, both in its details and overall goals. it is based on a careful review of existing state and local plans for the region, including the landmark New York State Recreationway Plan, completed in 1995. As a result, it provides a template for close cooperation between federal, state and local governments in revitalizing the Canal Corridor.
Here are examples of programs funded by the HUD Canal Corridors initiative: