State to Collaborate with Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Peekskill’s Downtown
Part of Governor’s Comprehensive Approach to Transform Communities into Vibrant Neighborhoods and Boost Local Economies
Downtown Revitalization Investments Are Crucial Part of Mid-Hudson’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Cuomo: “How do we make our community better? The best approach is when you can get all of those levels of government working together and all of those people pointed in the same direction. The state government, regional government, local government. Local government pushing up. State government and regional government pushing down. But all arriving at the same point.”
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Peekskill will receive $10 million in funding as the Mid-Hudson winner of the fourth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. As in the first three rounds of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions is selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Thank you. Thank you very much. Have a seat but I appreciate the standing ovation, especially before I said anything. Well, it is a pleasure to be back in Peekskill. I am a Westchester resident. I am your neighbor to the south in Mt. Kisco. But it is a pleasure to be here. Pleasure to be with all of you once again. Let me start by acknowledging my County Executive, your County Executive, a great County Executive George Latimer. A mayor who just gave me a hug outside. I think he cracked three of my ribs, but he is that strong, not just physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and strong as a leader. And he has been a breath of fresh air for Peekskill, Mayor Andre Rainey. Your State Senator Peter Harckham. Let’s thank Louie Lanza for his hospitality today and for all, he does for Peekskill.
And I want to acknowledge the members of the Regional Economic Development Council who are here today: Aleida Frederico, Marsha Gordon, Maureen Halahan, Kim Jacobs, and Jim Taylor. Let’s give them a round of applause.
So, today is simple. What do we all do? Why are we in government? Why are we involved in the local community? What does a governor do, county executive, mayor? We all really work at the same enterprise at the end of the day, which is how do we make our state better. How do we make our community better? That is what it is all about. Partially for ourselves, but even more for our children because some of us are fairly far down the road but our obligation is as parents, as citizens, is how do we leave our children a better state, a better home, than what we had. And that is what it is all about. And that is what we try to do in state government, that is what we try to do in county government, that is what we do in local government. And the best approach is when you can get all of those levels of government working together and all of those people pointed in the same direction. And that is what we try to do. I call it top-down and bottom-up. The state government, regional government, local government. Local government pushing up. State government and regional government pushing down. But all arriving at the same point.
On the State level, we’ve been focusing on the economy. Why? Because the economy drives all. If we’re not producing jobs, there’s no opportunity, young people are not going to come, there’s no economy to survive for businesses to survive so it’s about the economy. And we’ve been lowering taxes. Everybody in this room pays a lower tax rate today than the day I was elected, I’m proud to say. We’ve been investing in businesses in record numbers. We’ve been attracting businesses in record numbers. Listen to this: New York State today has more private-sector jobs than it ever has had in history. Isn’t that something? The unemployment rate in the Hudson Valley was 7.4 percent. Today it is 3.3 percent. Isn’t that nice?
So we’re doing our part. The County has a partner, under George Latimer who’s brought a new spirit of energy and effectiveness, and he’s reaching out and partnering with the local governments.
You are in a region that is a natural growth region. You are one of the most beautiful regions in the nation – forget in the state, in the nation. I mean you’re feeling it now with the growth. We went through a down period but you’re seeing it naturally come back. Why? Because water seeks its own level. There’s a natural beauty here. There are natural assets that are irreplaceable. The Hudson River valley – it inspired an entire school of artistry and sculptors and painters. People came from all across the world just to be here to see it and paint it. You come up that Hudson River, that is the Lord’s river, the Hudson River. I mean it could not be more beautiful and we’ve been cleaning it up and insisting that GE cleans it up and it is better than it’s ever been and it’s going to be even better but it is magic.
And you feel it now all through the region. You feel the energy. You feel the energy. You feel people from New York City. Fifty million people visit New York City every year. Fifty million. The state has about 19 million people. New York City has about 8 million people. But at one time New York State was just New York City. They came to visit New York City; there was just New York City. Now you’re seeing tourism, you’re seeing New York City residents rediscover the Hudson Valley.
You see young people rediscovering the Hudson Valley, right? And we’re doing everything we can to encourage that. Redo Stewart Airport. Why? It’s a beautiful, natural resource right there. It’s a tremendous asset. You can fly into Stewart, make it a first-class airport. Redo the transportation system. Get Metro-North running on time, reliable. Redo a new Penn Station; going into Penn Station with Amtrak is like going into the seven levels of Hell. Why would you want to do that? We’re building a new station right across the street from Penn Station in that old, beautiful post office building. Lego Land is coming, Regeneron is growing. But you see it in people’s faces. You see it in the young people who are coming up for the culture and for the arts and because they want a little space and because they don’t want the density of the New York City environment all the time. So the region is on fire. And the region is magic.
And then you have the local government. You have Peekskill and Peekskill, itself, has to be part of that rebirth, okay? You have a synergy, you have the energy, you have the market that wants to come, but are you preparing yourself to maximize that potential? It doesn’t come naturally; they can come to Peekskill or they can go to Garrison or they can go here. What is Peekskill doing? So, we started a program called the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, DRI. So the state’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, regional economic development councils working, the county’s working, and then to give local government the tools the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. That said what? We will invest in you and in your revitalization if you have a real plan that works and can make a difference. I’m a little cheap. Ask my kids. I am even cheaper with your money than I am with my money. We’re not going to give money to a local government to fund a phony plan. You know every local government has a plan. They have a bookcase full of plans. We said, “we’re going to have competition across the state and we want the best plans and we will invest in the best plans.”
Now, Peekskill put in a brilliant plan. They really did. First, you have all sorts of natural resources to start with, but the plan builds on that. That waterfront is such an asset. Water itself is such an attraction. You look around this country, I was in the Clinton administration, I did Housing and Urban Development all across the nation. The water is a magnet. It is a magnet. It draws people, it draws businesses. They want to be there, it’s relaxing, it’s a change of scenery. And you have a magnificent opportunity on the waterfront. Fleischman’s Pier is a brilliant opportunity on the waterfront. The Central Business District is doing well. And you see growth, and there have been projects that have been ready to go but haven’t had the funding Paramount Theatre is right. The gazebo and redoing that and making that something special that’s right and you needed funding to do it. So you put together a brilliant plan. And you have a secret ingredient. And what I look for more than anything else, do you have the capacity to get it done? Why?
Government is very good at talking right? Politicians are very good at talking right? Can you get it done? Can you actually make something happen? Because so much of disillusionment about government, so much of the lack of credibility is all they do is talk and nothing happens. And what do we all really want at the end of the day? We want the government to do something to help me. Help me. Touch me. Touch my life. Touch my town. Touch my school. Help me. Government’s plans, proposals, press releases, you add it up – all the press releases and all the proposals – New York would be a country. If one-tenth of the things we talked about we actually did. When I look at a plan I say, “do they have the capacity to actually do this? Do they have executive leadership? And they are going to do it in my lifetime?” I don’t need my daughters to cut any ribbons. I want to cut the ribbons. While I am still standing and above ground.
So, that’s why when I said I believe in your mayor, I believe in your mayor. And I believe this plan is going to turn into reality. I believe this plan is going to turn into reality because you’re committed to it, because the Regional Economic Development Council is going to help, because County Executive George Latimer is all in. But because the quarterback is going to be Mayor Andre Rainey and he’s going to carry that ball. I also told him outside when he was squeezing the life out of me – I said, “By the way, if this does not get done, you should think of locating in a state like New Jersey after.” Now let me give you the context for this: The democratic revitalization, DRI, plan was so popular that we have about 100 applications from local governments all across the state. The problem is that we only have 10 winning slots that get a maximum of $10 million.
Hold it – don’t applaud yet. So you have 100 applications – only 10 winners that get the full 10. I know everybody wants to be in the first place – everyone wants to win – and if they don’t get first place and they don’t get the full $10 million then they get disappointed. But, only 10 out of 100, that’s the top 10 percent, and the competition was very, very stiff. And $10 million is great, but $8 million is a lot of money, and $5 million is a lot of money, and you don’t always win the first time out. Sometimes, it’s a little bit of a rehearsal and you get some practice and you come back the next year and you win the whole thing. Do you understand what I’m trying to communicate to you? Our expectations? Having said that, I am pleased to announce that Peekskill has won first place $10 million. Congratulations.