Hudson Valley Officials Welcome Regional Economic Development Grants
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday announced that $716 million in regional economic development grants has been awarded around the state. The Mid-Hudson Valley region is on the receiving end of nearly $60 million for 87 projects.
The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council’s priority project focus in 2013 included job-creating projects in renewable energy and advanced manufacturing, projects to improve healthcare and wellness in the region, and projects to boost tourism by taking advantage of proximity to major markets. When it comes to advanced manufacturing, the State University of New York at New Paltz received $1 million for its 3D printing initiative. Dan Freedman is director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, which is the organizational home of the effort.
“People go overboard with the next big thing, but this really is the next big thing. It’s a real transformational technology,” says Freedman. “You never know, but I think it’s going to be on the kind of scale of the Internet. It’s really in its infancy right now.”
The award will support the college’s goal of purchasing several different types of state-of-the-art 3D printing equipment, leveraging $500,000 of private funding committed by Congressional candidate Sean Eldridge, a founding partner of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center and president of Kingston-based investment fund Hudson River Ventures, along with funding from Central Hudson. Freedman, who is also the dean of SUNY New Paltz’s School of Science and Engineering, says the funding will help in other ways.
“One is educationally, so it’ll be used in engineering programs,” Freedman says of the use of 3D printers. “It’ll be used in art, where 3D printing actually was first used at New Paltz, and also in a new program that we created this fall – a certificate program called digital design and fabrication.”
Plus, says Freedman, “And then we’re also going to be doing outreach with community colleges and high schools to show them what 3D printing is, how it works, how it can be integrated into various different academic curricula as much as we can in the Hudson Valley”
Jonathan Drapkin calls the 3D printing initiative an exciting economic development project. Drapkin is president and CEO of Newburgh-based non-profit planning and advocacy organization Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. He also points to a project in Westchester County that is receiving funding: the White Plains Multimodal Transportation Center Redevelopment Project.
“We’re very pleased to see that received $1 million in funding as it shows a high level of coordination between the efforts to create mass transit alternatives in addition to the rebuilding of the Tappan Zee Bridge,” says Drapkin. “And White Plains is the hub for mass transit.”
Rich Schiafo is deputy executive director of the Newburgh-based Hudson Valley Regional Council, an organization of county governments that focuses regionally on planning, education and outreach, and advocacy. Schiafo says he was pleased to see Kingston receive funding for rail-trail and non-motorized transportation projects.
“I’m the former climate analyst for the City of Kingston and the City of Kingston has been a leader in climate action planning.” He adds, “I think their Complete Streets projects and the Connectivity project that they’re getting funding for will help meet some of the goals that were set forth in the Climate Action Plan that the city did a couple of years ago and that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the city more livable and more walkable and improving the quality of life in the City of Kingston.”
Other funding awards include $1 million toward constructing the Taylor Biomass Energy plant in Montgomery, Orange County -- a waste-to-energy facility. And $500,000 is for supporting infrastructure improvements at Castagna Commerce Park in Pawling, in Dutchess County, a planned mixed-use development that will consist of medical office space, retail space, and 400 units of senior housing and assisted living facilities.