DRI Gives Potential To Fulton Businesses

sign that says Municipal Building
Photo by: Kassadee Paulo

FULTON – Two weeks ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded Fulton with a $10 million grant, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and now, that funding has the potential to bring in new businesses and update existing ones. 

In the DRI application, almost half of the 26 proposed plans were businesses. Although the proposed projects and their amounts are not definite, Community Development Agency Executive Director Joe Fiumara said they could have preference when the committee, which has yet to be formed, makes the final decisions. 

“I believe there’s an application process, and even each one of these businesses in the plan will fill out and then it will go through a review process from there,” Fiumara said. “All 26 projects have the support of the city going forward… Those first 26 projects would have priority because those are the ones that were included in our original application.”

For now, these businesses are anticipating to be included in the funding for the DRI. Some of these businesses include Tavern on the Lock, a restaurant on South First Street, and Empire Drone Company, which is looking to establish a location in Fulton. 

Sue and Don Ryan opened the steak and seafood restaurant about 12 years ago after they noticed the building sat empty for a few years. 

Sue said they had taken advantage of past CDA programs to better the business, building and increase the number of employees. With the potential of receiving DRI funding, Sue said she has plans to improve the building. 

“We’re going to increase our banquet room, which will increase the number of employees we have,” Sue said. “We are also going to put some hard roofing over two portions of our deck instead of using the tents we’ve been using in the past years.”

These changes will help them to have larger parties in the banquet room. The steel roof will help to better protect against the weather during events held on the deck of the restaurant, as opposed to their current canvas tents. 

The total cost is estimated to be $127,500 and create 4 new jobs, according to the DRI application.

Business partners John McGraw and Sean Falconer of Empire Drone Company recently closed on a space, a former doctors office in Canalview Mall.

McGraw is a retired firefighter from Fulton and Falconer is an architect who both had backgrounds involving drone and teamed up two years ago to start a drone company, originally named CNY Drone Works.

The two owners know Steve Chirello, who they helped with the DRI application promotional video, and he helped them to get involved with being one of the proposed projects. 

Falconer said he hopes the DRI funding will help them to bring their business to Fulton. He said they will work with a local construction team.

“To help offset the cost of buying the space and then the construction to build out the space,” Falconer said. “It’s going to be a mix of our main office, a little bit of the showroom and then a training area. Picture like a lecture area where folks can come in and train to use drones.”

Falconer said drones are the next big industry, so having a location in Downtown Fulton will help the area as well as the drones bring people in.

The next step for the DRI is for city officials and state officials to form a team to decide which projects, such as these two businesses will be approved to receive a portion of the $10 million funding. 


  1. Do you know how many times they’ve revitalized the downtown? Still looks like Frankenstein since they did it in the 70s and destroyed the history and atmosphere of the city. This article outlines nothing to happen except more pretty stuff that won’t be used. Rambling on about a drone company. How do you Revitalize a downtown in a city that is dying from a massive drug epidemic and has no manufacturing beyond a couple of places? The amount of people living under the poverty level with only retail jobs is beyond sad.

  2. I totally agree with the statements above, road’s need to be redone,new businesses should get the some of the grant money to help the employment rate go up which would also bring the drug epidemic down. I can remember when you drove into the city there were signs that said “City with a future” . If you take care of the core problems the rest will automatically get better. This City needs new officials with a spotlight like Oswego’s Bill Barlow.

  3. Great news but $4 million for a trail when it will only be used for 6 months by maybe 800 people is a waste of money.
    – buy a machine to repair roads. More people drive than walk and roads always need repair. We could rent it out and recoup money.
    – fix sidewalks
    – fix the horrible looking buildings
    – this is going to attract people, businesses and manufacturing when the roads are so bad they won’t want to drive on them.

    Walking trail is good but have they counted how many people are using it and how far they walk.
    You will regret doing this when there are better things to do.

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