HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-72
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 8:30 a.m. Monday
Or contact your local HUD office April 10, 2000


View Comments on the Hudson Valley Initiative

WEST POINT, NY - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today urged New York counties, cities and towns to form a Hudson River Initiative to work with federal agencies to create jobs, spark business growth and revitalize communities.

Cuomo spoke at the Hudson River Initiative conference in West Point, where he was joined by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Senator Charles Schumer, Congressmen Benjamin Gilman and Maurice Hinchey, and National Park Service Director Robert Stanton. The officials met with business leaders, government officials and not-for-profit group executives from Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester Counties.

"Working together, we can do for the economy of the Hudson River Valley what we are doing along the Canal Corridor," Cuomo said. "We can help create more tourism, more jobs, more private sector investments, and more state and local revenues. The regional partnership model that is working so well along the Canal Corridor can work just as well in the Hudson Valley."

Secretary Glickman said: "HUD and USDA have a long-standing partnership, particularly in New York. Collaboration in the Canal Corridor has produced more than $400 million in investment in community improvements and rural economic development since 1997. USDA's commitment to the Hudson Valley will continue to further rural business development, much-needed infrastructure improvements, and the economic vitality of the region."

Senator Schumer said: "The communities along the Hudson River have always been beautiful places to live. But as the economy has changed, many of these communities have unfortunately ceased to be wonderful places to find work. I look forward to working with Secretaries Cuomo and Glickman on this innovative program which will foster economic growth without forcing residents to make the false choice between economic development and environmental preservation."

Congressman Hinchey said: "The Hudson River Valley has many unique strengths: its scenic beauty, rich heritage and diverse communities, all bound together by this magnificent waterway. In order to revitalize the region and take on the challenges of the new economy, we must capitalize on these strengths. I've worked hard, through the Heritage Area and Heritage Rivers initiatives, to promote community development that respects and emphasizes the natural resources of our region. The Hudson River Initiative takes community development to the next level, by forging partnerships across municipal boundaries and federal agencies. I applaud HUD's efforts to create a comprehensive, regional approach to the revitalization of the Hudson Valley."

Congressman Gilman said: "The Heritage Rivers program received broad, bipartisan support in the Congress because it encourages local communities to take the initiative in preserving those streams which have been American lifelines throughout our history. Secretary Cuomo is to be commended for recognizing the unique role the Hudson has played in the past, as well as the enthusiasm and vision of our riverfront communities."

Cuomo urged conference participants to work regionally to submit applications under two HUD programs - Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grants and Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) grants.

The EDI program includes $10 million this year for regional economic development projects that could include a wide variety of housing, economic and community development activities. An EDI application would have to "demonstrate broad economic benefit" to the Hudson River region and be formalized through an agreement among local governments. EDI applications are due May 24.

HUD's BEDI program is also competitive, with $25 million available this year to help communities redevelop abandoned, idled or underutilized industrial and commercial facilities where redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. BEDI applications are due June 13.

Both EDI and BEDI require communities to apply for a HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee. A 108 loan is backed by a community's HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and allows a community to leverage $5 of loan guarantees for every $1 of CDBG funding used as collateral. Since 1993, HUD has made $37 million in 108 loans in the 10-county region.

Cuomo also said HUD has approved immediate release of $10 million under its Annual Consolidated Plan process in these amounts: City of Poughkeepsie - $1.3 million in CDBG funds; Dutchess County - $1.7 million in CDBG and $800,000 in HOME funds; City of Yonkers - $4.4 million in CDBG, $1.7 million in HOME and $156,000 in Emergency Shelter Grants.

Glickman announced that USDA will provide preference points to funding applications from the 10 counties participating in the Hudson River Initiative, which should yield up to $30 million for the region over the next two fiscal years.

The Hudson River attracts some 15 million tourists each year, who generate $2.5 billion in revenues. It is one of 14 American Heritage Rivers announced by President Clinton and Vice President Gore in 1998 as part of the Administration's efforts to help local communities fund environmental restoration, economic revitalization, and cultural and historic preservation along their waterfronts.

Though the Hudson Valley enjoyed strong job growth in 1999, major employers like IBM and NYNEX downsized in the 90s, and General Motors left the region entirely. Wages in the area lag behind while the number of households living in poverty - ranging from a low of 25 percent to a high of 39 percent - exceeds the statewide average.

In 1996, HUD, USDA and the National Park Service launched the regional economic and community development strategy known as the Canal Corridor Initiative, targeting new and existing federal resources to transform the 32 counties along the 524-miles of the Erie Canal and connecting waterways into a major tourist destination.

A 1999 report prepared by Cornell University's Department of City and Regional Planning concluded that in its first three years, the Canal Corridor Initiative had contributed to an increase in hotel occupancy, additional boat traffic on the canal and an almost 20 percent increase in the number of visitors to National Park Service sites in New York, many of them adjacent to the Canal. The study estimated that the federal investments in the Canal Corridor were likely to yield over 17,000 additional jobs and a $447 million increase in annual revenues to state and local governments, while stimulating more than $400 million in other investments.

"Canal Corridor Initiative investments," Cornell's report found, "have provided a flexible tool that has functioned as a catalyst for economic development in Canal Corridor communities. The initiative's overall framework has encouraged regional collaboration and contributed to broader economic development goals, including the retention of manufacturing jobs."



National Park Service Director Robert Stanton: "Few places better exemplify the value of partnerships and the opportunities to make meaningful choices for the future than the Hudson River Valley," said Stanton whose National Park Service was a partner in the Canal Corridor Initiative. The National Park Service stands ready to support local endeavors and to work in concert with Secretary Cuomo, HUD and our sister agencies to assist in the revitalization of the Valley's diverse communities."

Scenic Hudson Executive Director E.O. Sullivan: "The Hudson Valley is at a watershed period in history. With federal, National Heritage and American Heritage River designations, the national importance of the region's natural, cultural and historic resources have been recognized. Organizations, not-for-profits and others are collaborating to a greater extent than ever before. The addition of federal resources through the leadership of HUD Secretary Cuomo will greatly reinforce and strengthen the region's identity and economic potential. I commend him for this."

American Heritage River Navigator for the Hudson J. Eric Scherer: "These grants are the model for the kind of interagency, intergovernmental and community partnership that President Clinton had in mind when he designated the Hudson as an American Heritage River. Working to advance these community-driven plans, this initiative is a commitment by federal agencies, including HUD and USDA, to use existing resources to help catalyze sustainable development through improvements to local infrastructure, housing and the environment."


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