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Innovation Grand Street Project Awarded $1.83M Grant

December 18, 2018

Empire State Development Funds Earmarked for College’s Initiative to Rejuvenate Grand Street Corridor

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul announced today (Tuesday, Dec. 18) that Orange County Community College will receive slightly more than $1.83 million in Empire State Development Corporation monies to kick start the College’s Innovation Grand Street project in the City of Newburgh.

The Innovation Grand Street initiative will focus upon four industry sectors and is intended to spark private investment and entrepreneurial activity in the City, create meaningful employment opportunities for local residents, rejuvenate the greater Newburgh community and connect the College’s curriculum to real-world experiences for students.

At the core of the project is the renovation of three historic and iconic buildings adjacent to the College’s Newburgh campus that, when refurbished, will allow for small business creation, spark economic development, and blend short-term workforce training with complementary academic opportunities.

The grant award of $1,831,000 announced today by the Lieutenant Governor is the result of the state’s most recent Consolidated Funding Application cycle. The Innovation Grand Street CFA was first reviewed by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, which affirmed the application this Fall and gave it “priority status” among the local CFAs forwarded to the state for funding consideration.

“We are elated with today’s announcement. The state’s willingness to put more than $1.8 million behind Innovation Grand Street validates both our vision for this project and its potential impact,” says SUNY Orange President Dr. Kristine Young. “SUNY Orange is deeply committed to becoming a true anchor institution in the City, one that creates opportunities for citizens to simply and easily access a college campus and engage in education specific to jobs that are already, or will soon be, available in Orange County.

“We’ve been fortunate to have the commitment of some extremely engaged partners thus far, and anticipate building many more fruitful relationships moving forward,” Young adds. “County Executive Steve Neuhaus’ leadership and strong support has been instrumental in shaping this innovative concept. He and the County Legislature have provided us with the operational resources and support necessary to grow and prosper in other areas as well. We also appreciate the support of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council throughout the CFA process, as well as the input of many others along the way. And certainly the major roles of the SUNY Orange Foundation and Orange County Community College Association cannot go unmentioned.”

“These buildings were purchased by the County to be put back into productive use in partnership with the College,” Neuhaus explains. “I was pleased to support the development of this initiative and look forward to a public-private sector partnership that creates jobs and improves Newburgh.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for the County, the City and the College,” says Steve Brescia, chairman of the Orange County Legislature. “When the Legislature made the decision to buy these buildings, we were hopeful they would be put into productive use. This project will generate a nice economic boost for the City, is a wonderful partnership for the County and will greatly enhance the SUNY Orange Newburgh campus.”

Innovation Grand Street will be completed in two phases, with Tuesday’s grant award to be applied to the nearly $9.16 million proposed budget for Phase I that calls for renovations to the Masonic Lodge (48 Grand St.), above, and the American Legion building (62 Grand St.) at left. The YMCA building (54 Grand St.), located between the Masonic Lodge and American Legion facilities, would be upgraded as part of Phase II.

Once restored, the buildings will provide space for training and programming that supports specific needs for an educated workforce, while at the same time providing guidance on how to effectively create a small business, within the four targeted industry clusters: entrepreneurship, innovation and business; food, beverage and entertainment; healthcare and wellness; and creative design and historic preservation.

The appeal of this project to Empire State Development, according to Young, is that it will directly connect with four state and regional initiatives set forth by the Governor. It is intended to spark downtown revitalization, grow a skilled and culturally diverse employee pool, invigorate the Mid-Hudson Region’s cluster plan for economic growth, and provide SUNY Orange students with educational- and curriculum-driven training in the four targeted industry clusters.

“Workforce training is on the minds of community college Trustees both locally and nationally,” says Fred Watson, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees. “Our Board is in full support of the Innovation Grand Street initiative because it seeks to connect SUNY Orange students to career-related experiences while also taking a broader regional view in order to elevate the skills of community members looking for meaningful employment.”

“The entire SUNY Orange Foundation, under current Chairman Derrik Wynkoop, is thrilled to part of this watershed project in the City of Newburgh” says Board member Rich Rowley, who will be leading the Foundation’s efforts related to the project. “We want to publicly thank Steve Neuhaus and the Orange County leadership for their support to date, and we look forward to the exciting challenge that lies ahead of us.”

“This exciting news comes at an important moment in our city’s history and speaks volumes of the immense transformation we have faced in recent years. I believe that the future of Newburgh and our vibrant historic district will be greatly impacted by the changes that will take place on Grand Street on the SUNY Orange campus,” adds Kevindaryan Lujan, Orange County legislator whose district includes the Newburgh campus. “For years our community has talked about the need for more livable wage jobs and skills that create a strong work force. The investment at the Newburgh campus will do precisely that, with programs focused on hospitality, trades and public health. I am excited about the many partners that have made this a reality and the work that we will continue to do, to foster a better future for our community.”

With one-fifth of the Phase I budget now pledged from Empire State Development, SUNY Orange and the SUNY Orange Foundation can set about securing additional state and federal grants, in addition to pursuing private-sector support. In order to meet the CFA requirement, applicants and grant awardees must be certified 501©3 organizations, so the College has integrated both the Foundation and the Association into the project.

For more information, contact Mike Albright, SUNY Orange communications officer, at (845) 341-4728 or mike.albright@sunyorange.edu.