The City of Geneva will receive a $10 million investment through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during a press conference at the Geneva Visitor Center on July 6.
The grant is part of a $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, launched by Cuomo to encourage development in 10 communities across the state.
“A thriving downtown can provide a tremendous boost to the local economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “This initiative will transform selected downtown neighborhoods into vibrant places for people to live, work and raise a family – which will also help attract new investments and businesses for years to come.”
The grant will enable Geneva to capitalize on its position as the primary retail, restaurant, cultural and entertainment destination for the surrounding region, as well as its emergence as a major employment center in the area.
Through public, private, not-for-profit and community collaborations, the City plans to leverage the funding to address poverty while boosting the downtown district’s vibrant social, economic and cultural institutions.
“I congratulate the City of Geneva on its successful application and extend my gratitude to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the State of New York, and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for providing these important resources that will add to the vibrancy of downtown Geneva,” says HWS President Mark D. Gearan. “I was proud to join City Manager Matt Horn and Director of Neighborhood Initiatives Sage Gerling in making the case to the selection panel. Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a strong collaboration with the City of Geneva and appreciate being able to house important administrative departments downtown. This award will continue the work of the entire community, making Geneva a wonderful place to work, live, visit and study.”
Along with the nine other selected communities, Geneva will establish a local planning committee, which will receive technical support from private sector and state experts. By early 2017, the committee will develop a Strategic Investment Plan for the downtown area, identifying economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that can leverage and expand upon the state’s $10 million investment.
Hobart and William Smith have made a number of investments in the City of Geneva in recent years including direct payments to assist the city budget, donations to non-profit organizations, and support of civic projects. The Colleges contribute on average about $2 million each year to the community.
The Colleges and City have collaborated on a number of projects. One of the most visible was in 2012 when HWS moved 70 staff members downtown in what was the single largest influx of employees into the City of Geneva in recent history. HWS leases more than 18,000 square feet of space on Seneca Street, which remains privately owned and on the tax rolls.
The Colleges have also partnered with the Geneva City School District on Geneva 2020, an initiative which seeks to harness the resources of the Colleges and the Geneva community to provide assistance in areas identified by GCSD as being critical to the future of Geneva’s children.
Several years ago, the Colleges donated nearly $400,000 to help renovate the Geneva Recreation Complex Skating Rink, enclosing the rink from the elements and providing a first-class surface for Geneva Youth Hockey and HWS athletics. In 2013, Hobart and William Smith partnered with the City of Geneva to create a new playground located near the lakeshore. To jumpstart the project, the Colleges donated $25,000 to the effort, a quarter of the total cost of the playground. The Colleges also led fundraising efforts for the remaining monies that made the playground a reality.
In the top photo, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sits with City Manager Matt Horn and members of the City Council.