HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-204
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 Monday
Or contact your local HUD office August 7, 2000


ALBANY, NEW YORK - The economic benefits of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Canal Corridor Initiative are "spinning off" well beyond upstate New York's tourism industry and will generate more than $700 million of new economic activity each year, helping Canal communities attract and keep highly skilled jobs, a Cornell University report said today.

Today's report estimates that the HUD initiative, launched by Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo in 1997, will generate some 10,600 new jobs in manufacturing and business services and $386 million more in annual economic activity. These estimates are over and above the 17,000 jobs and $327 million of economic activity in the region's tourism industry Cornell had estimated in a report last year as a result of HUD's investment in 57 communities throughout the upstate corridor. Some 38 percent of the jobs flowing from the Initiative, says the report, will be "outside the tourist sector."

"With its pool of skilled labor and wonderful quality of life, the Canal Corridor region is 524 miles of economic opportunity just waiting to be tapped," Cuomo said.

Cuomo made the announcement at an event hosted by Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings to celebrate the success of the Canal Corridor Initiative. Also attending the event, held at the Albany Pump Station, were U.S. Representative Michael McNulty and Green Island Mayor John McNulty, Jr. The visit to Albany came on the first day of a three-day tour of upstate New York to promote economic growth, job creation and tourism.

Albany Mayor Jennings said: "Just a couple of years ago, Secretary Cuomo's Canal Corridor Initiative was just a promise from HUD to Upstate New York and the canal communities. Today, we are celebrating the real successes of that initiative in all the communities along the canal. The HUD funds allowed us to go ahead with projects like the Albany Pump Station, a wonderful adaptive reuse of downtown property that has played an important role in the revitalization of the Capital City. The Secretary has ensured that HUD works directly with local government to assess and meet their needs. We will continue to feel the benefits of this initiative for years to come."

Rep. McNulty said: "For the last several years, HUD has been a particularly productive partner in community revitalization projects throughout upstate New York through the Canal Corridor Initiative. Last year, Secretary Cuomo delivered nearly $200 million to upstate communities and $21.6 million to the Capital Region alone. The Canal Corridor Initiative has exemplified the willingness by many to realize the potential of one of our greatest assets—our waterways—in creating jobs and spurring meaningful economic growth. I commend Andrew Cuomo for his leadership and dedication to this effort."

Green Island Mayor McNulty said: "Andrew Cuomo's vision for New York State's Canal Corridor has produced a creative and comprehensive economic development program that is successfully revitalizing our local economy."

Albany County Executive Michael Breslin said: "The Hudson River remains the major commercial and tourist artery for Albany County. Our waterfront development projects will create jobs while enhancing business activity along our shoreline. The expansion of Scarano Boat Works and the establishment of the Albany Pump Station Restaurant would not have been possible with the Canal Corridor Initiative."

"As Cornell suggests, HUD's Canal Corridor Initiative demonstrates that when everybody works together, everybody gains together," Cuomo added. "The partnerships we've promoted make it easier to pool resources. Easier to cut through red tape. Easier to remove obstacles to opportunity. Easier to leverage private investments. Easier to close deals. And, obviously, easier to create new jobs and new economic activity throughout the upstate Canal Corridor region."

Since 1997, the initiative has provided $237.3 million in grants and guaranteed loans to local governments and businesses throughout 57 communities. That money, in turn, has been used to leverage another $361.1 million in private sector, local and State investments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a partner in the initiative since 1998, has provided an additional $160.2 million, sparking another $41.5 million in private and local government investments.

According to Cornell Professor Susan Christopherson, director of the study, "By improving the quality of life in canal communities, the investments are helping to create, retain and attract skilled workers as well as employers who want to locate in a region that is both affordable and offers a high quality of life," the report concludes. "Our survey data and case studies indicate that the Canal Corridor Initiative has served as a significant catalyst in fostering increased local and regional cooperation."

The authors of today's Cornell report -- Susan Christopherson, Eric Wilson and Karen Westmont -- are associated with the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. In 1999, they issued a "progress report" that concentrated on the expected benefits of the Initiative to the region's tourism sector.
The authors report that there are 132 specific economic development projects directly associated with the Initiative. Almost 60 percent have been completed or are within a year of completion.

"Although many development projects are just beginning to come 'online,'" the authors report, "there is some early evidence that Canal Corridor investments are having spin off effects, encouraging private investment in more attractive commercial districts and recreational facilities."

For example, the report notes, 17 of 32 local officials responding to Cornell's survey reported that they had received inquiries about business start-ups, and 11 reported that a non-Canal Corridor business had been established in their communities. The report also notes that "hotel taxable sales increased 12 percent in the 1996-98 period" while the "National Park Service reported an 18.5 percent increase in visitors at its New York sites in 1999."

The report also discusses a series of specific economic development activities undertaken by Canal Corridor Initiative communities. For example:

  • The City of Fulton has used funds to retain a packaging firm that previously had announced its intention to relocate its 600 employees to Kansas. Under the initiative, the company has already created more than 70 new manufacturing jobs and announced plans to add another 25.

  • The City of Oswego has established a micro-enterprise training program to help potential entrepreneurs develop business plans and acquire the skills necessary to operate a business.

  • The City of Seneca Falls is completing a community asset study to use in recruiting new firms to the community.

In addition to millions of dollars in additional resources provided by HUD, the authors call attention to two particular initiatives recently undertaken in Canal Corridor communities. The first was publication of the 223-page "The Permitting Guidebook: A Practical Guide to Getting Your Project Done," which summarizes all of the Federal, State and local regulations and requirements governing development in the area and offers a step-by-step guide to completing the design and development process. The second is a series of workshops to help potential participants determine whether they qualify for Canal Corridor Initiative programs and the steps by which they can apply for participation.

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. HUD's Canal Corridor Initiative is designed to put federal resources to work as part of a long-term and coordinated commitment to transform the Corridor into a major tourism destination that will "spin-off" other kinds of economic activity in the region.

"While some regions turn to tourism because other economic development options are not available," concludes Cornell's report, "upstate New York, including the Canal Corridor, is in an advantageous position. Despite its employment losses, it has retained a strong manufacturing base and is home to both large international firms and small skill-craft and high-technology firms." In upstate New York, it says, "investment in tourism can play a more complex role, interacting with other sectors of the economy."

The Canal Corridor Initiative involves cities within the area bounded from Albany to Buffalo and from Ogdensburg to Kingston.

The Cornell Report, "Diversifying and Rebuilding Local Economies," is available on the HUD website at canalcorridor.html.


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