FULTON – Governor Andrew Cuomo surprised the City of Fulton today, August 14, with a visit to announce personally that the city has won first place for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, bringing $10 million in funding to the city.
“To be in the top 10, that means you have to be in the top 10 percent,” Cuomo said. “With that in context, I am pleased to announce that Fulton has won first place in the DRI.”
Cuomo said the DRI worked too well and received over 100 applications for the 10 spots available with a maximum of $10 million.
“All of us in elected office, all of us involved in the community really are trying to do one thing here at the end of the day, which is to make this state, to make this city, to make this community a better community,” Cuomo said.
He said the fundamental responsibility of people as citizens to leave a place better than they found it, which is done on three levels: state government, regional partnerships and local government.
Cuomo said for many years the state government was “deaf, dumb and blind” to the needs of Upstate New York and so he wanted to do a complete 180 degree turn
“I am proud to tell you that under my administration, we have invested more in Upstate New York, in economic development in Upstate New York, than any state administration in history,” Cuomo said.
Through the DRI, he said local governments are able to tell state government what they need in their communities.
“You have to have the services to get that traffic to stop on the river and do business here,” Cuomo said. “Repurposing the Nestle plant, amen I say. Finally. Attracting the drone industry, because I believe this region can be the drone capital of this country.”
Following the governor, Fulton Common Council President Donald Patrick Jr. spoke. He gave thanks to everyone involved in the DRI.
“The governor sees the same potential in Fulton that we always known was here. Our city sits behind the beautiful Oswego River that is rich in history,” Patrick said. “All it needs is a spark to reignite its economy. That spark, as the governor said, needs to come from the city’s downtown.”
Fulton’s application beat six other cities in CNY and when the Regional Economic Development Council chose it. These included Syracuse, Oneida, Homer, Phoenix, Cazenovia and Hamilton.
Community Development Agency Executive Director Joe Fiumara, along with a team of Fultonians submitted the city’s fourth and final application, along with a video to show some of the faces of Fulton, back in May.
The team includes Fiumara, Dave Mankiewicz, Marie Mankiewicz, Deana Michaels and Brittney Jerred, along with Steve Chirello and Heather McCoy with Chirello Advertising.
They applied every year for the past four years and Marie Mankiewicz said each time the proposal got better.
“This year, the difference was the projects,” Mankiewicz said. “We had 26 diverse, wonderful, wonderful projects and they were ready to go and it was just perfect.”
Fiumara said they had great public input sessions and an online survey process.
“We had input from many, many different business owners, even inside and outside the boundary,” Fiumara said. “They wanted to see this transformation just as we did, so they were investing their time and effort as well.”
He said more residents of Fulton came up with ideas for them than the past three years they applied.
According to the application, “The vision for the City of Fulton’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is to leverage Fulton’s historic downtown waterfront and the economic drivers found in Fulton’s health, service, and manufacturing industries and its innovative entrepreneurs to enhance the city’s natural and cultural attractions. This will create an improved quality of life, new downtown living, retail, restaurants, entertainment and job opportunities.”
“The plan is brilliant, smart. Kudos for developing that plan,” Cuomo said.
The areas to benefit the concentration of the DRI will be the riverfront, downtown and the NYS 481 gateway to the city.
This will include walking/biking trails, build more central city market rate housing, restore properties and developing vacant parcels and buildings along 481 like the former Nestle site.
“A revitalized downtown is a clear sign to home buyers, innovators, investors that our city is open for business,” Patrick said.
See the video of the announcement here.
Here is what other members of the community and government had to say about Fulton’s win.
Deana Michaels, DRI committee member and mayoral candidate: “This makes so much sense for our future. I think it aligns with all of our visions throughout the community, and this just brings so much opportunity for business owners, homeowners, community members, visitors to our community. We knew our future was bright, and this check, this award just really supports that.”
Brittney Jered, DRI committee: “The application challenge itself gave us a chance to really showcase what was already happening here, labeling it and being able to put it together in one package in order to be able to sell it, and look at the reward.”
Dave Webber, mayoral candidate: “This is probably the best thing that could ever happen to Fulton, especially at this time… I think the whole thing as a whole, it’s going to bring Fulton back on the map in a big way that a lot people won’t expect.”
Ethan Parkhurst, mayoral candidate: “This is a huge jumpstart to the next future of Fulton. It’s going to totally revitalize our economy. It’s going to give endless opportunities, and this is just the tip of the iceberg… I believe in these people. I believe in our city… It’s amazing that we were up there and Fulton isn’t a forgotten city.”
Dan Farfaglia, 24th District Oswego County legislator and mayoral candidate: “The City of Fulton needs a good shot in the arm as far as revitalizing themselves, and this DRI is going to be the start to making that happen. So I believe a renaissance will now be taking place shortly… I guarantee you, they will not regret this decision.”