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Utica United Candidates Share Economic Development Ideas

Utica City Hall
Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Several of the candidates backed by the Utica United Party gathered outside of Nicky Doodles in the city’s Harbor Point area to highlight some of their economic development ideas on Friday. 

The group – council-at-large candidates Sonya Martinez, Robert Clemente and Edward Jackson, along with comptroller candidate Jim Zecca – believes the Harbor Point is an essential part of the city’s future development.

Candidate ideas:

Jim Zecca: Upgrade the city’s cyber infrastructure to include the Utica’s financial information, property details, etc. Zecca says this database, for example, would make it easier for investors to find information about a property, it’s value and who owns it. He says this information is currently available, but it isn’t to locate.

There is a cost involved for this upgrade, he says, and plans to  seek grant funding to pay for it.

Zecca who also has the Democrat line, says he plans to reach out to Mohawk Valley Edge and Oneida County regarding development Utica and Harbor Point. ”Everyone will benefit, it generates more sales tax revenue.”

Sonya Martinez:  Martinez says she will make it her goal to educate the minority community of grants available for entrepreneurs. She says these minority owned assistance programs will help open new small businesses in the city.

Edward Jackson: Inner city neighborhoods are lacking a sufficient number of grocery stores. Jackson says he’ll push for incentives to lure ‘chain’ grocery stores into poorer neighborhoods. The benefit, he says, is that chains have better pricing than mom and pop corner stores. The more money the consumer saves on essential groceries, the more disposable income they would have to help economy.

Robert Clemente: Environmental Forestry Initiative. Clemente outlines his belief that such a program would uplift the city’s economy, to the tune of $250,000. Not only would planting more trees around the city reduce water runoff – which is a of concern, considering the city’s crumbling sewer infrastructure – but it would fuel spin-off businesses, he says, literally growing the economy as the trees grow. Trimming the trees would produce a product in itself: chipped wood for mulch, lumber companies, and even sawmills.

Also, he says trees lessen urban decay. A project is some of Chicago’s worst housing projects also found they led to a decrease in crime. Part of the initiative involved the residents taking ownership of their neighborhoods by planting those trees, he said.

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