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Community Supports $10 Million NY State Downtown Revitalization Grant For New Rochelle

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New Rochelle —  The State of NY Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) will invest $10 million in one community within the Mid-Hudson region to transform their downtown. The Governor’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) will nominate one downtown by June 30, 2016 best positioned to take advantage of the investment, based on its capacity to spur job growth and attract future private and public investment.

“We have been planning for downtown economic development for several years now,” New Rochelle Councilman Jared Rice tells BW. “What is important is that we ensure that the benefits of any new investment be spread across socioeconomic lines and that they create opportunities for all.”

With New Rochelle’s pioneering community-driven downtown development program, the City is uniquely positioned to take immediate advantage of State assistance and to leverage State dollars for maximum positive impact. Indeed, New Rochelle’s central location, unrivaled transit access, respected higher educational institutions, outstanding schools, and diverse human and physical characteristics give the city significant achievable potential to be a thriving live-work-play magnet for millennials and other professionals – enhancing the competitive position of our region as a whole.

Selecting New Rochelle for the DRI offers a broader and perhaps more significant benefit, because New Rochelle’s plan can be a model for the entire State. New Rochelle presents an opportunity to invest in a demonstration project – a proof of concept – with enormous value to nearly every city in the region.

In a letter to Dennis Murray, PhD and Leonard Schleifer, MD, PhD, Co-Chairs of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, the My Brother’s Keeper New Rochelle initiative co-chairmen, Councilman Jared Rice and New Rochelle High School Principal Reggie Richardson express their strong support of the City of New Rochelle’s grant request for funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

As Co-Chairs of the My Brother’s Keeper New Rochelle initiative, we realize that a revitalized downtown can help us further our mission to help all children and young adults succeed, particularly boys and young men of color. The economic growth and job creation along with the potential development of new learning and “safe” spaces that would result from a revitalized downtown area would help us reach several of the six Milestones outlined in our attached 24-page Action Plan Report…

We firmly believe that a revitalized downtown will be tremendously beneficial to all the residents of New Rochelle including our boys and young men of color. We hope you will give our City’s request for DRI funding serious consideration. 

The letter goes on to explain some of the direct benefits funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) that would help the City of New Rochelle move their MBKNewRo goals forward.

In April 2015, New Rochelle became the first community in Westchester to accept President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge. Mount Vernon recently accepted the Challenge and Yonkers is said to be studying that possibility. The City of New Rochelle also is the first Westchester municipality to implement a “Ban the Box” policy for municipal jobs, which enables qualified candidates to be interviewed without being automatically dismissed due to a past arrest.

View the New Rochelle’s $10 million grant application here.
Frequently asked questions by those signing the petition:

What happens once a community is selected?
The DRI team will work with the winning community to develop a strategic investment plan that will examine local assets and opportunities to build a vision for revitalization unique to that downtown. The plans will include identification of economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with that vision and can be leveraged for additional investment.

Will the community be included in deciding how the $10 million is invested?
Yes. Work on the strategic investment plans will be overseen by a local DRI Planning Committee. This committee should include representatives from a number of the following interest groups and organizations:
-  The REDC for the municipality’s region;
–  Local and regional government officials;
–  Neighborhood associations, homeowners, and renters;
-  Property owners, local developers, and realtors;
-  Chambers of commerce, local business associations, and business owners;
-  Community foundations and community loan funds;
-  Local development corporations, housing corporations, Industrial Development Agencies, and business improvement districts;
-  Cultural institutions, including museums, historic sites, theaters, etc.;
-  Educational institutions, including administrative and student leadership of area universities and colleges;
-  Local non-profit and advocacy organizations that address quality of life (i.e. bicycle coalitions, park conservancies, arts organizations, YMCA, etc.);
-  Social and public service organizations (local police, health care providers, etc.); and
–  Faith-based organizations.

What are the fundamental goals for the $10 million investment?
While strategic investment plans will be individualized to ensure sustainable growth in each unique downtown, fundamental goals include:
1)  Creation of an active, desirable downtown with a strong sense of place;
2)  Attraction of new businesses (including “Main Street” businesses), high-paying jobs, and skilled workers;
3)  Arts and cultural attractions;
4)  A diverse population, with residents and workers supported by complementary housing and employment opportunities;
5)  An enhanced local property tax base; and
6)  Amenities to support and enhance downtown living and quality of life.

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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