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CUOMO AND GLICKMAN LAUNCH NEW PARTNERSHIP TO BRING $75 MILLION FROM USDA & OTHER FUNDS TO REVITALIZE CANAL CORRIDOR IN NEW YORKJOHNSTOWN, NY -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Canal Corridor Initiative to increase tourism, spark economic development and create jobs in upstate New York took a major step forward today when HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman agreed to work together to aid the Corridor and announced millions of dollars in new federal assistance.
Under a HUD-USDA agreement signed by Cuomo and Glickman today, small communities along the New York Canal System and connecting waterways will receive up to $75 million in Agriculture Department assistance to promote rural development, agriculture and conservation.
In addition, Canal Corridor communities will receive a portion of $104 million in grants and $200 million in loan guarantees earmarked for New York under two HUD programs that will assist small communities with economic development projects throughout the state, Cuomo announced. Funds for all three programs will be awarded in the spring, after communities apply for assistance.
At the same time, a legislative proposal to designate the Canal Corridor a National Heritage Area to boost tourism drew support today from Congressman John LaFalce, a senior member of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, who said he will introduce the bill in several weeks.
Cuomo launched the Canal Corridor Initiative when he visited New York in August and announced $131 million in HUD assistance to 57 communities along the 524-mile Corridor. That investment is expected to generate $102 million from the private sector and create at least 5,000 jobs. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt also joined Cuomo in Albany in August to sign an agreement committing HUD and Interior to work together to support local communities receiving funding under the Canal Corridor Initiative.
"Now we have three Cabinet Departments -- HUD, Agriculture and Interior -- working together under President Clinton's leadership to benefit New York by turning our hopes for a revitalized Canal Corridor into a reality," Cuomo said. "Working with local communities and businesses, we will transform the Canal Corridor into a world-class tourist destination, pumping millions of dollars into local economies and creating thousands of new jobs. After decades of decline, the Canal is back and will once again play an important role in New York's economy."
The announcements came at a Canal Corridor Conference at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, attended by officials from Canal communities throughout New York. HUD organized the conference to strengthen the federal-local partnership.
"I am pleased that USDA can work with Housing and Urban Development and the people of the New York Canal Corridor to help revitalize and preserve these communities and promote economic opportunity for residents," Glickman said. "USDA has a number of programs that assist rural communities -- from housing and business development, to rural infrastructure needs such as water, electricity and telecommunications. We look forward to working with Secretary Cuomo, HUD, and the people of the Canal Corridor region to advance economic opportunity."
In another new announcement, Cuomo said that in response to a request from Congressman John McHugh, HUD will make more communities that have access to waterways feeding into the New York Canal System eligible for Canal Corridor funding. The additional access waterways will include Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. As a result, communities in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Fulton Counties are now eligible for Canal Corridor assistance.
The three assistance programs that Cuomo and Glickman announced today are designed to benefit cities, counties, towns and villages with less than 50,000 residents. Most communities along the Canal fit this description. The agreement between HUD and USDA is designed to better serve small communities along the Canal by coordinating aid from both departments and funding economic development projects along the Corridor.
Participants at the all-day Canal Corridor Conference today received detailed information about applying for funding under HUD and USDA programs, along with programs offered by the the National Park Service. Here are more details of the actions announced today:
HUD-AGRICULTURE AGREEMENT: The memorandum of understanding signed by Cuomo and Glickman says HUD and USDA will work together "to assure success of the Canal Corridor Initiative."
"USDA expects to provide up to $75 million in program activities, plus technical assistance to promote rural development, agriculture and conservation in the rural communities and areas of the CCI region," the agreement says. Glickman said USDA will take the following actions as a result of the agreement:
Cuomo also encouraged Canal communities to apply for a share of $200 million in loan guarantees expected to go to small cities in New York. The loan guarantees, under HUD's Section 108 program, are used to provide communities with a source of financing for job creation, housing rehabilitation, and construction of public facilities and large-scale development projects. The majority of jobs created by each project are available to people with low-and-moderate incomes.
HERITAGE AREA LEGISLATION: Congressman LaFalce announced legislation to designate the Canal Corridor as a National Heritage Area. This designation will provide an affiliation with the National Park Service that will aid tourism promotions and unifies the region without imposing any federal restrictions on land use, development, or any other local or individual action.
Preliminary findings of the National Park Service study announced by Babbitt in August sparked the effort to designate the Canal Corridor as a National Heritage Area. The findings said the impact of the Erie Canal on American history is equalled only by transportation works such as the first transcontinental railroad. The study noted the impact of the Canal on the rise of population centers, on the flow of national and international commerce, and the canal's role in the movement of ideas, as well as people and goods.
As a result of Cuomo's August announcement of $131 million in assistance to 57 communities along the Canal, communities have begun readying their economic development projects for construction. For example:
In Lansing in Tompkins County, design work has begun and work permits have been obtained for the Portland Plant project on Cayuga Lake, which will include a 134-slip marina, covered boat storage facility, restaurant and catering center, and marine provision store. In Utica, a boat docking facility to accommodate 40 vessels, along with related services and amenities, is scheduled for completion by early summer. In Hudson, HAVE Video Company has completed the renovation of a factory to manufacture video and audio cable assemblies.
Cuomo began the Canal Corridor Initiative when he served as an Assistant Secretary at HUD. The initiative is designed to put federal resources to work as part of a long-term and coordinated commitment to upstate New York. The initiative is locally driven. It will be up to individual communities to specify how to utilize HUD and USDA resources. Projects will be undertaken according to plans developed by each community with resident involvement.
The 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.
COMMENTS FROM NEW YORK'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ON THE CANAL CORRIDOR INITIATIVE"The construction of the Erie Canal System made New York State the center of all commerce and brought prosperity to the towns along its banks. In 1987, we secured the first federal funds for restoration of the Erie Canal. Today's efforts will continue the fine work that HUD has done to preserve and restore this grand resource." -- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"This bill (designating the Canal Corridor a National Heritage Area) recognizes that the Erie Canal played a crucial role in the early development of our nation and is an enormous asset to the country. It nourished the economies of New York and the Great Lakes region, and enriched the culture of the areas that surround it. This bill will compliment efforts already being undertaken by many communities in my district that have received funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Canal Corridor Initiative to cultivate the many benefits the region has to offer." -- Congressman John LaFalce
"I am strongly in favor of the revitalization and economic development of the former Erie Canal site. The New York Canal's affiliation with the National Park Service will offer a unique opportunity to improve recreational activity along the system and ensure proper development of the historic site." -- Congressman Jack Quinn
"This initiative to revitalize the Erie Canal fully demonstrates the commitment by many to realize the potential of one of our greatest natural assets - our waterways - in creating jobs and spurring meaningful economic growth." -- Congressman Michael McNulty
"This is a significant initiative. New York's Erie Canal was the gateway to the West during the last century. Now the country will recognize what Rochesterians already know through song and stories -- namely, that the construction and the operation of the canal allowed a young nation to define itself through commerce and expansion." -- Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
"I welcome this agreement between the Departments of Housing and urban Development and Agriculture to better serve those communities along the New York State Canal system. It is a welcome step in the direction of ensuring that canal communities have quick and easy access to the full range of programs administered by these two agencies. On a related note, I am delighted to learn of HUD's decision to expand the Canal Corridor Initiative to include communities in Fulton, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties." -- Congressman John McHugh
Content Archived: January 20, 2009