Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood is the latest area to receive a $20 million grant to spur economic revitalization as part of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The DRI, overseen by the New York State Department of State, is in its fifth year of operation.  Through it up to twenty downtown neighborhoods are eligible to receive monies, according to the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative website, to transform their “neighborhoods into vibrant centers that offer a high quality of life and are magnets for redevelopment, job creation, and economic and housing diversity.”

Other agencies - including Empire State Development and New York States Homes and Community Renewal – cooperate and offer input on potential grant recipients as well.

New York has ten Regional Economic Development Councils and each may nominate downtown regions that may receive a funding award.  Two downtown regions may each be given $10 million or one may be given $20 million.  A total of $200 million was allocated for distribution in 2021.

Of critical importance now is those regions hit hardest by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a written release New York Governor Kathy Hochul stressed the importance of the initiative and for “…creating a positive buzz and attracting private sector investments.”  In the same statement Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said that, for Chinatown, the money “…will further bolster the renaissance in downtown redevelopment that is spreading and flourishing throughout New York State.”

In the Mohawk Valley previous winners of DRI grants were as follows:

  • DRI Round One: Oneonta
  • DRI Round Two: Rome
  • DRI Round Three: Amsterdam
  • DRI Round Four: Utica

 

Graphic Courtesy: New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative Guidebook via https://www.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2021-07/DRI_Five_Guidebook.pdf

 

As part of the funding the cities will help develop Strategic Investment Plans.  The goals of the plans include a variety of objectives from enhancing walkability and cultural diversity to facilitating the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.

 

Strategic Investment Plan: Auburn Courtesy: New York State Downtown regional Initiative Guidebook: Strategic Investment Plan https://www.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2021-07/DRI_Five_Guidebook.pdf

The deadline for the 2021 DRI Five was September of 2021.

13 Upstate Food Favorites You Can't Buy Outside of New York State

Upstate is the home to many fantastic food favorites. Some of them have broken out and are now widely popular across the country, even though they started here. Think hot wings, halfmoon cookies, even potato chips. Others have stayed widely popular but in a more regional sense. Mention sponge candy to somebody 100 miles outside Buffalo and you are probably going to get a blank stare. Mention a Michigan hot dog to anybody not from around Plattsburgh. Same stare. So here is a list of 13 regional food icons that you cannot buy outside of the empire State.

I will add this asterisk. You certainly can buy some of these items online, like the Saratoga Peppermint Pigs. . Perhaps the Stix and Sauce item is known by another name somewhere in the country. Salt potatoes may have gravitated elsewhere but if so nobody knows where they started. And Grandma Brown. Well, you can buy that sweet lady's baked beans on eBay. But for the most part you would have to walk into a store or restaurant in Upstate New York to enjoy these "regional" fan favorite foods.

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