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North Country Communities Prepare Applications For Fifth Round Of DRI Grants

Communities across New York are preparing their applications for the fifth round of Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant awards. The North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which will nominate communities from the region for the grant, heard a presentation on the state’s expectations during its latest virtual meeting.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council, or REDC, represents seven counties in New York’s northern tier. Area communities have in the past applied and received the state funds and more are planning to apply during the upcoming round.

New York state Department of State Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure Director David Ashton provided an update on this year’s DRI process and expectations.

“This year we’re also focusing particularly on the value of compact mixed-use development as part of our state’s response to climate change. And the DRI can play a critical role in recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and help our downtowns become even stronger and resilient.”

In past years, winning communities received grants of $10 million. Ashton noted that this year, partly due to COVID recovery needs, the state plans to provide more DRI funding.

“DRI is bigger than it’s ever been: twice as big, $200 million this year. So we’re going to invest that $200 million in up to 20 additional downtowns statewide. As always we are relying on you, the regional councils, to nominate participating communities based on the downtown’s potential for transformation and the need for the type of investment that the DRI can provide," Ashton said. "This year we’re asking the REDC to nominate either two downtowns to receive $10 million each or one downtown to receive an award of 20 million.”

Numerous communities across the region plan to apply for the latest award including the Town of Plattsburgh. Supervisor Michael Cashman notes the state’s goals for this round of grants align with the planning and capital investments the town has undertaken.

“The town has been a host to sustained growth in industrial, commercial, residential sectors and is also aware that this growth is creating additional demand for workforce housing, transportation options, recreation opportunities and cultural and community services. And the Town of Plattsburgh adopted a Smart Growth plan for our town center," Cashman said. "What we are looking to do is to leverage the work that has been done through good planning and find opportunities to execute that. So when the Round 5 DRI application was released it felt like the obvious next step for us.”

The Adirondack village of Tupper Lake is also applying for a DRI grant. Community Development Director Melissa McManus says the DRI is intended to infuse targeted state investment when a critical mass of activity is occurring.

“We have a combination of about $40 million in private sector investment, millions in public sector investment that are in progress at this point. We have another $40 million plus in projects that we are proposing. And so we have our projects. We have our investments. We have a vision that we’ve been working on and a strategic plan for years," McManus said. "We’re on the cusp, right? The opportunities are emerging but we need a boost. And that’s what we’re asking the state to do. A very targeted focused strategic boost to get us over the finish line.”

Tupper Lake’s plan will be posted online September 1st.

The Town of Plattsburgh is planning a public meeting on its application September 1st at Town Hall.

The city of Plattsburgh, which is separate from the town, was awarded $10 million in the first round of DRI grants.

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