Monday, November 23, 2015

Economic Development "Hunger Games"

Gossips lost track of URI (Upstate Revitalization Initiative) since it was first discussed at a Hudson Development Corporation Quarterly Community Update meeting in August, but today, the Albany Business Review reports that the winners in the competition for $500 million will be revealed in a couple of weeks, on December 10: "When we'll find out if the Capital Region gets $500 million in state money."

In the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, the seven upstate regions of New York are competing for $500 million--$100 million a year for five years--which only three of them will get. The Capital Region, of which Columbia County is a part, paid a consulting firm $2 million to prepare its proposal for the competition. The document was completed at the beginning of October and can to reviewed here.

If it is announced on December 10 that the Capital Region is to receive $500 million for economic development, the burning question for us in Hudson is: Can a couple million of that pot of money go to repairing or replacing the Ferry Street Bridge?

What is being proposed for the Capital Region is described as "a plan of five integrated and mutually reinforcing strategies": New-Tech, Gateway, Talent, Lift-Off, and Metro. The Ferry Street Bridge project fits nicely into at least two of these strategies.

The strategy called called Gateway is about "connecting markets and businesses." The following is quoted from the proposal document:
The Capital Region has one of the most unique and desirable geographic positions in North America, one that will only become more valuable given future trends. This strategy will invest in our port infrastructure and waterways, and support our fast-growing distribution and logistics cluster, to make sure that our companies and entrepreneurs are able to respond to external opportunities and have access to the critical inputs and customers. We are committed to ensuring that we will continue to be the critical gateway that all of Upstate New York relies on and needs.
Produce from Columbia County farms can't get loaded onto vessels like the Apollonia to be transported to New York City unless the trucks from the farms can get over the bridge to the waterfront.

The strategy called Metro is about "building vibrant cities for businesses and families." Again, quoting from the document:
Smart urban investments are essential to the economic development, health, and vibrancy of a region, and we are committed to investing in our six, unique urban areas—Albany, Glens Falls, Hudson, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Troy. This strategy is an integrated portfolio of investment that will: catalyze smart, mixed-use urban development; take a place-based approach to supporting small businesses and tackling blight in our most challenged neighborhoods; and better connect workers to jobs and improve transportation equity.
Hudson is one of the "six unique urban areas" mentioned specifically in this strategy, and the argument can certainly be made that the Ferry Street would be a "smart urban investment" that would contribute to the "economic development, health, and vibrancy" of Hudson. Columbia County, and the region as a whole.

Getting the money will take more than a press conference in front of the barricades at Ferry Street Bridge and the claim that the State of New York owes us for maintaining the state boat launch on our waterfront for fifty years, but first, the Capital Region needs to be one of the three regions chosen to receive $500 million.

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