Governor Hochul Outlines $172.5 Million in New State Funding for Transformative Projects in the Finger Lakes Region
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul outlined $172.5 million in new state investment for several transformative projects in the Finger Lakes region be funded by her $216 billion FY2023 budget proposal. The Governor will commit $100 million from the New York State Department of Transportation’s five-year capital plan toward the Inner Loop North project to complete the infill of the sunken highway that has cut off downtown Rochester from its surrounding neighborhoods. Monroe County’s Seneca Park Zoo has been undergoing a major overhaul, and an additional $42.5 million would be used to finish implementing visitor experience enhancements at the area’s second biggest tourist attraction. An additional $10 million for a total of $12.5 million from the State would be used to support needed upgrades to Frontier Field in Rochester, home to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, to ensure the stadium will meet required Major League Baseball standards. The Governor outlined her vision today at an event held at Monroe Community College’s downtown campus in Rochester.
“My administration is laser focused on supporting economic development initiatives that will reinforce our efforts to create a new era of prosperity for all New Yorkers as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Hochul said. “It’s time for a better, fairer, and more inclusive version of the American Dream — the New York dream. Our focused investments in these transformative projects in the Finger Lakes will serve to promote greater inclusivity for everyone in the community, further bolster regional tourism efforts and improve the overall quality of life for generations to come.
The administration had previously announced $6 million in proposed funding to support the establishment of Rochester High Falls State Park within the historic Genesee River gorge in downtown Rochester. Today, Governor Hochul unveiled new concept plans and renderings for the park and launched the beginning of the public input phase to get feedback from community groups, stakeholders and other interested residents. Public comments for the park design are encouraged; please send an email to: ROCHighFallsPark@esd.ny.gov. The new park is part of the second phase of the “ROC The Riverway” initiative, which will unlock the potential of Rochester’s waterfront. Phase 2 also includes $2.5 million from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to restore the City of Rochester’s High Falls Visitor Center, as well as an additional $5 million for the Aqueduct Reimagined project, which was committed when Constellation Brands announced the move of its headquarters to downtown. The new Rochester Downtown Partnership management entity’s is also developing plans to reopen the Riverside Hotel. These efforts complement other significant investments made to revitalize downtown Rochester, including the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award to tackle the blighted Main & Clinton block, which began public input sessions last week.
Also outlined earlier as part of the Governor’s agenda is a further commitment to New York State sponsored business competitions which are focused on ensuring the industries of tomorrow thrive here. To that end, another $20 million has been committed to continue the successful, globally renowned Luminate NY optics, photonics and imaging competition. The accelerator brings visionary companies to the Finger Lakes Region to leverage the rich ecosystem of resources available to speed the commercialization of emerging industry technologies.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Governor Hochul has demonstrated through her historic transportation budget proposal that she is dedicated to delivering on transformative transportation investments that Rochester residents and the entire Finger Lakes Region deserve. The State Department of Transportation is committed to reconnecting our communities and uplifting regional economies through smart infrastructure investments, which is why we are proud to have the $100 million Inner Loop North Project proposed in our five-year capital plan. I thank Governor Hochul once again for her leadership and look forward to working with our local partners to deliver this project and ensure the long-term vitality of Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region.”
New York State Park Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Parks lift the quality of life in their communities throughout the year, so I am excited to support Governor Hochul’s vision to bring a state park to downtown Rochester. The new park will showcase the beautiful High Falls on the Genesee River, support the ongoing economic revitalization of the city, and provide a boost for regional recreational tourism.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “These New York State investments Governor Hochul proposed today will enhance infrastructure, tourism and quality of life in the Finger Lakes, home to tech talent and a recognized industry hub for optics, photonics and imaging. These additional funds will further build on the state’s strategic support for innovative projects, from ROC the Riverway to the Luminate NY business competition, that are creating a 21st century vision for the region’s growth and sustainability.”
Representative Joe Morelle said, “Today’s announcement is a testament to Governor Hochul’s commitment to uplifting families and moving the Finger Lakes region forward. These investments will help revitalize our downtown corridor, strengthen our regional economy, and ensure a more equitable and inclusive future for our community. I’m grateful for her partnership and look forward to our continued work together to advance these exciting projects.”
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “I’m grateful for Governor Hochul’s support of the Finger Lakes and Greater Rochester region. This transformative investment will ensure our community’s infrastructure is strengthened and neighborhoods are connected through the Inner Loop North project and that Phase II of Roc the Riverway revitalizes our waterfront areas along the Genesee River. As someone who grew up in the City of Rochester and as the chair of the Upstate Cities Committee, I am proud to support the Governor’s funding proposal which will impact the revitalization of our downtown.”
State Senator Samra Brouk said, “This critical investment in our Finger Lakes communities will uplift our families and businesses and I am proud that our Delegation’s advocacy has paid off. Projects like Inner Loop North work to reverse decades of hurt and connect families pulled apart by the decisions of the past, and I look forward to securing greater investment in our communities through our State Budget.”
My administration is laser focused on supporting economic development initiatives that will reinforce our efforts to create a new era of prosperity for all New Yorker.
Governor Kathy Hochul
Assemblymember Harry Bronson, Chair, Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry said, “The Greater Rochester State Delegation is proud to partner with Governor Hochul and our colleagues in local government to improve the quality of life for families all across our region. These investments will ensure we build a strong infrastructure, support good paying jobs for our hardworking men and women, and invite businesses to invest in the heart of our downtown community. The Greater Rochester State Delegation knows these investments will result in a community where everyone can be proud to live, work, and raise a family.”
Assemblymember Sarah Clark said, “Budgets reflect our values. I am proud to advocate alongside our Governor for a New York State that invests in the future of our community. The projects announced today will strengthen our region and local economy, but also our quality of life. Upgrading the Seneca Park Zoo and Frontier Field, while also continuing investment in ROC the Riverway with a new downtown state park at High Falls and restoring the Visitor Center, will further solidify Rochester’s place as a supreme tourist destination in the Finger Lakes region. Local residents can take advantage of the improved attractions here in Rochester, but also bring in new visitors who will support our local businesses and restaurants. Finishing the transformational Inner Loop project will address the harmful transportation policies of the past while restoring our neighborhoods today. This along with continued investment in the very successful Luminate NY competition program will build on Rochester’s rich history in manufacturing, create jobs and attract new businesses to our area. Thank you Governor Hochul for your leadership and Empire State Development for your continued investment in our local infrastructure and economy.”
Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “I thank Governor Hochul for demonstrating her commitment to our neighborhoods and to the people of Greater Rochester. Decisions made in the past regarding our local infrastructure have only served to divide our neighborhoods and deprive our residents of valuable economic opportunities. Correcting these mistakes and restoring our community requires bold government action and effective leadership. I am grateful to see a clear investment being made towards revitalizing our neighborhoods and uplifting our community. With a $1+ trillion federal infrastructure bill fast approaching, it is essential now more than ever that our state remains steadfast in utilizing these resources for the improvement of our community. We must continue to work collectively towards creating an equitable and inclusive economic recovery for all families and residents of New York State.”
Assemblymember Jen Lunsford said, “This enormous investment in Monroe County will echo throughout our regional economy in the form of jobs, travel & tourism dollars, and increased sales to area businesses. As a zoo member and regular attendee at Red Wings games, I appreciate the deep emotional connection these landmarks have to Finger Lakes families like mine. Governor Hochul’s long relationship with the Finger Lakes region put her in a prime position to understand the importance of these projects. I thank her and our economic development council partners for helping us secure this critical funding.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “Governor Hochul recognizes the importance of investing in our key community infrastructure as we strive to enhance our quality of life and rebuild our vital recreational and tourism industries. This investment of $42.5 million to modernize and expand the Seneca Park Zoo will help us offer new species, best-in-class habitats, enhanced visitor experiences and more opportunities for families and children to learn how to connect with, care for and conserve wildlife and wild places. And, her $10 million investment in Frontier Field will help ensure that this vital asset meets Major League Baseball standards and remains home to the Rochester Red Wings for decades to come. I thank Governor Hochul for her vision, leadership and continued support for all of the transformative Finger Lakes region projects she outlined today.
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “The word ‘transformational’ does not begin to describe the monumental level of investment Governor Hochul delivered to Rochester and the rest of the Finger Lakes region today. By fully funding the Inner Loop North project at the outset while accelerating the progress of our ROC the Riverway program and leveraging other investments along the Genesee River corridor, Governor Hochul has fundamentally altered the vision for Rochester’s future from ‘if’ to ‘when.’ This will spur unprecedented levels of private investment and generate previously unmatched opportunities for our residents and stakeholders. I am especially grateful that Governor Hochul has made purposeful decisions to atone for the sins of past governments with these projects by replacing the physical manifestations of environmental racism with parks, walkable streets, affordable homes and other community-building amenities in minority neighborhoods that have been ripped apart and neglected for far too long. The city of Rochester is truly fortunate to have a governor who is committed to racial equity and fully understands the important and beneficial role Upstate New York plays in the progress of our state.”
President and CEO of the Seneca Park Zoo Society Pamela Reed Sanchez said, “A transformation of this magnitude requires the investment of the State and the County-it cannot be done through private fundraising alone. These new buildings will be national models for inclusion and for sustainability, allowing us to better serve our community while attracting new audiences from outside our region. We are grateful Governor Hochul is directing resources for the future of Seneca Park Zoo.”
President, CEO and COO of the Rochester Community Baseball Naomi Silver said, “As we enter our 25th season at Frontier Field we find the ballpark in need of a great deal of improvements in order for us to remain compliant with Major League Baseball standards for their players and coaches. We also are hopeful to make some upgrades to the facility that will enhance the fan experience of coming to a game at Frontier Field so we can adapt to the ever-changing needs and desires of our loyal supporters. The way that fans enjoy the game experience now is vastly different than 1997 when Frontier Field opened. Thanks to Governor Hochul and County Executive Bello for their efforts to make Frontier Field one of the best ballparks in the country for players and fans alike.”
Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “Luminate’s mission has been to connect the best of early-stage entrepreneurs with the unparalleled resources of the Finger Lakes region, establishing the world’s premier accelerator for the Optics, Photonics and Imaging Industry. We are grateful for the continued support of ESD and Governor Hochul.”
Additionally, in an effort to further support economic momentum in the region and across the state, Governor Hochul announced plans last week for the new Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York grant program to attract and expand key growth industries to New York State. This initiative will provide up to $200 million to the new FAST NY grant program for the development of sites to attract high-tech manufacturing, particularly semiconductor manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and logistics businesses to the state to jumpstart New York’s shovel-readiness and to increase the state’s attractiveness to large employers.
Monroe Community College President Dr. DeAnna R. Burt-Nanna said, “We are grateful for the governor’s vision and commitment to enhancing the quality of life for Rochesterians and creating more vibrant communities. The governor’s funding proposal for the revitalization of the High Falls areas surrounding Monroe Community College’s Downtown Campus complements our efforts with regional partners in building stronger communities in the city of Rochester and beyond and moving the local economy forward.”
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chair Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and Denise Battles, President SUNY Geneseo said, “The regional state investments outlined by Governor Hochul today are game changers. The targeted projects will work to provide greater connectivity, enhance tourism and strengthen the overall quality of life in the Finger Lakes. The regional council is truly excited to continue our partnership with the governor as we together to build the exciting future that residents of this beautiful region truly deserve for generations to come.”
President and CEO Greater Rochester Enterprise Matt Hurlbutt said, “New York State is making strategic investments to cultivate the vibrancy of Rochester’s urban core, key tourism attractions, and the region’s world leadership role in the optics, photonics, and imaging industry. Each of these investments enhances the Greater Rochester, NY region’s position as the right place to live and grow a business.”
Find additional information about Governor Hochul’s proposed FY2023 budget here.
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture? and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.?
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.