THE SOUTHERN TIER ECONOMIC RECOVERY STRATEGY 2021

This year marks the tenth anniversary since the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) were created as a new economic development strategy in New York State, replacing the older top-down model with an innovative bottom-up approach that is meant to increase local stakeholders’ participation in shaping the vision and the priorities of each region. Since 2011 over $6.9 billion in State funding has been awarded to over 8,300 projects. Through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) a diverse range of projects has been funded thus far from hospitality and tourism initiatives to high-tech manufacturing and business incubators.

In 2011 Governor Cuomo created ten Regional Economic Development Councils: Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island.

Each Council has developed its own strategic economic development plan to bolster economic activity, create new businesses, revitalize downtowns, invest in technology, and train skilled workforce. These plans address specific challenges and capitalize on unique assets that each region has to offer to allocate resources judiciously and stimulate economic activity. The plans are updated annually to include new challenges and opportunities. In 2021 specifically the post COVID-19 recovery efforts have become essential as well as investments in a more resilient economy. Public outreach and engagement are paramount in delineating actionable goals for each region.       

Regional Councils are organized in workgroups formed by stakeholders representing each region and engaging with local officials, businesses, community organizations, and academia to identify priorities, set goals, and design and implement strategies that best suit each region’s economic development objectives. The workgroups play an important role in identifying strong projects that can advance regional and state priorities.   

In 2015 The Southern Tier, Finger Lakes and Central New York regions became the winners of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) awards in the amount of $1.5 billion, with each region being awarded $500 million to spend on economic development projects over the span of five years.

In The Southern Tier the expectation was that the URI investment of $500 million would leverage more than $2.5 billion in private investment, create more than 10,200 jobs and have an overall economic impact of $3.4 billion over the span of five years. The focus has been on revitalizing distressed communities, spearheading innovation, attracting foreign investment, increasing exports, leveraging the region’s natural resources, strengthening regional industries ranging from advanced manufacturing to agriculture and tourism, and building a regional brand.

The Southern Tier 2021 Annual Report details the state of the region and highlights regional priorities – it can be found online at https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2021-07/SouthernTier2021AnnualReport.pdf

The Southern Tier’s regional priorities, which are addressed by the workgroups include: The Greater Binghamton Innovation Ecosystem, Advanced Manufacturing, Food and Agriculture Industry, Innovative Culture, and Tourism Business.

A list of awarded projects over the past decade can be found at https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/cfa/projects

The 2020 global pandemic caused disruption and forced the region to re-set its priorities. The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council has prepared an Economic Recovery Strategy that addresses COVID-19 related issues and reshapes the focus of the workgroups. The plan includes input from local municipalities, economic development agencies and industrial development agencies to bolster the economic recovery of the region and build resilience. The co-chairs of The Southern Tier Regional Council Dr. Kevin Drumm and Judy McKinney-Cherry described the plan as “pragmatic, ambitious, and forward-focused.”

The following overarching themes have emerged, and they will inform policy recommendations:

  • Expanding broadband access
  • Quality, affordable, and available childcare
  • Creating a unified workforce strategy

Statewide priorities include: childcare, economic and environmental justice, placemaking and downtown revitalization, and workforce development.

In 2021 the Regional Economic Development Councils compete for $150 million in capital funds and $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits. Over thirty state programs participate in the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for state economic development resources from multiple agencies, representing a combined pool of grants, tax credits, and low-cost financing totaling over $750 million. Project readiness and the alignment with the strategic plan are of essence. The application process is open from May 10 to July 30. Learn more at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/      

Learn about Regional Economic Development Councils at https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov

Greater Roxbury Business Association (GRBA) Celebrates Its Seventh Anniversary This Summer

GRBA Seventh Anniversary

This year the Greater Roxbury Business Association (GRBA) celebrates its seventh anniversary. The organization was founded in the summer of 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs who identified the need for the Town of Roxbury to have its own coherent business group to promote local businesses in a cohesive fashion to ensure the economic vibrancy of our communities.

The founding of the organization coincided with the implementation of the Town’s current Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in May 2013. The Plan identified a number of positive as well as negative elements that characterized the local economic climate.

Strengths included:

  • Small town atmosphere and friendliness;

  • Historic rural environment;

  • Attractive Main Street with distinguished historical architecture;

  • Outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, skiing and golfing;

  • Air and water quality.

Weaknesses included:

  • Hamlets are disconnected;

  • Lack of cohesiveness and coordination;

  • Lack of a common marketing plan for tourism activity, lack of economic development, lack of Main Street businesses;

  • Lack of incentives for retail and restaurants;

  • Not enough hotels.

The Esopus / Delaware Study, which was conducted around the same time, also identified a series of challenges: lack of business training, lack of social media expertise, lack of customer service skills, limited social infrastructure for youth, not enough promotion of cultural activities.

Since its founding in 2012, GRBA has made its mission to capitalize on the Town’s assets while at the same time address some of the shortcomings identified both in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan as well as The Esopus / Delaware Study. The first organizational task we set to accomplish was to increase awareness of existing businesses in the community; afterwards, we worked tirelessly to improve coordination and communication across the board to create a focused agenda and spearhead economic vibrancy within our town and throughout the region.

The overall vision for Roxbury as outlined in The Town’s Comprehensive Plan has been to maintain its historic character, ambiance and quiet lifestyle while expanding economic opportunities and increasing local businesses, particularly those “oriented to tourism so that the town is known as a historical, recreational, and cultural destination.”

The Greater Roxbury Business Association has positioned itself as the Town’s marketing arm while launching Visit Roxbury campaign to promote the Town and support its economic development. Over the past seven years, GRBA has increased the Town’s visibility through a series of initiatives, has provided business training opportunities for local business owners, and has coordinated tourism-related activities that make Roxbury a destination.

As this year marks GRBA’s seventh anniversary, the organization has been awarded a tourism grant that will make possible the acquisition of a new logo, the design and distribution of a rack card with map included, and the production of two guidebooks with itineraries that will help visitors explore the area. These are exciting developments that will make us stronger as a business community.

None of us could imagine Roxbury today without the Greater Roxbury Business Association. We’re looking forward to many more years to come.

Learn more at visitroxbury.com.

Business Workshops for the Greater Roxbury Business Community

GREATER ROXBURY BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (GRBA) ANNOUNCES ITS 2019 BUSINESS WORKSHOPS SCHEDULE SPONSORED BY MARGARETVILLE TELEPHONE COMPANY (MTC): 

  • Run Your Business Smarter Not Harder with Mercedes Gonzalez / January 29, 5:30 – 7 pm;
  • Effective Website and SEO with Susan Aleksejczyk / February 26, 5:30 – 7 pm;
  • How to Leverage Content Marketing to Boost Reputation and Sales with Simona David / March 26, 5:30 – 7 pm;
  • Grant Writing with Peg Ellsworth / April 30, 5:30 – 7 pm;
  • Social Media for Small Business with Becky Tyre / May 28, 5:30 – 7 pm;

All workshops are tailored to small business owners and entrepreneurs who seek to grow their businesses by learning new skills and gaining expertise from leading business professionals in our community.

I. Run Your Business Smarter Not Harder with Mercedes Gonzalez / January 29, 5:30 – 7 pm

You have a business now what? How do you scale, how do you grow and most importantly how can you balance life and work? One of the mantras Mercedes Gonzalez believes in is “how do you work as little as possible for the most amount of money.”

The hour plus workshop will help you put a plan of action together to help you work smarter and not harder.

Mercedes Gonzalez has been considered a retail industry leader for over 20 years – having founded her own strategy and brand developing agency, Global Purchasing Companies, in New York City in 1998. She has traveled to over 50 trade shows every year in eight countries since then, establishing plans and strategies for retailers and emerging designers across the globe. Her debut book, Chronicles of a Fashion Buyer, is currently the number ONE new release on Amazon for fashion and textiles, and it has already sold out four times in the few months since its release. Mercedes is a preferred speaker at a multitude of regional and international fashion events including Miami Fashion Week, Jamaica Fashion Week, Asia Fashion Summit, and the Istanbul Textile Conference thanks to her “no-nonsense” reputation. She owns Just Shop Boutique, a designer discount store located in Arkville, NY.

II. Effective Website and SEO with Susan Aleksejczyk / February 26, 5:30 – 7 pm 

Susan Aleksejczyk, designer and content developer for Catskill Muse, will review the best search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve search engine results for both new or existing websites. Susan will discuss the best website design and hosting options as well as compatibility with top search engines to help you get high rankings based on relevant searches.

Susan Aleksejczyk has built her career in the advertising and marketing industry. She was previously employed at a NYC marketing firm whose clients included big brands. Susan is currently the Sales and Marketing Coordinator for MTC. Her vast experience in various industries has allowed her to provide her clients with a unique perspective on their marketing and website needs. As owner of Catskill Muse, she concentrates her business on website design best practices and the latest in SEO techniques. 

III. How to Leverage Content Marketing to Boost Reputation and Sales with Simona David / March 26, 5:30 – 7 pm

This workshop will expose participants to the benefits of content marketing such as increasing brand awareness and name recognition, attracting new leads and prospects, increasing sales, and retaining and expanding customer base through a series of case studies and best examples from the industry. Rather than making a direct sales pitch, content marketing engages the audience through valuable creative content, and establishes an emotional connection with the followers, who, in the words of Seth Godin, will become your “tribe.” Examples of content marketing include: how to guides, white papers, newsletters, presentations, blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, product descriptions, reviews, testimonials, and others.

Simona David is a media consultant with over a decade of experience in the publishing and marketing industry. Ms. David has worked with lobbyists, award-winning advertising executives, travel and tourism professionals, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations. Her website is simonadavid.com.

IV. Grant Writing with Peg Ellsworth / April 30, 5:30 – 7 pm

This workshop will help equip participants with the tools needed to search and solicit grants from State, Federal and Local sources. Peg Ellsworth will discuss the basic dos and don’ts in soliciting grants and best practices for developing successful applications. She will also cover resources available from NY State as part of the Consolidated Funding Application for both businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Peg Ellsworth is the Executive Director of the MARK Project, whose mission is to provide resources and help build the capacity of individuals, organizations, businesses and municipalities in the towns of Andes, Bovina, Middletown, Roxbury and Shandaken, and the Villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville.

V. Social Media for Small Business with Becky Tyre / May 28, 5:30 – 7 pm

In this workshop Becky Tyre will explain the differences in each social media platform and show you some tips to make Facebook and Instagram work for your small business. Specifically, she will address Facebook Events, Page Layout, Hashtags, how frequently to post, how to reach a broader audience and gain more followers.

Becky Tyre is a writer, retail consultant @RetailDetails, contributing editor at Gifts & Decorative Accessories magazine and a shop local advocate. She lives in Roxbury, NY.

All workshops will be held at the MTC Building, 61 Academy Street, Margaretville, NY. To register, go to https://www.visitroxbury.com/business-workshops. Class fee is $25 for GRBA’s members, and $35 for non-members. For more information, contact roxburybusinessassociation@gmail.com.

Greater Roxbury Business Association (GRBA) for the Town of Roxbury, NY is a community / grassroots organization comprised of business owners and self-employed individuals working to increase awareness of existing businesses in the community, and to build a more cohesive and prosperous business environment, to serve the hamlets of Roxbury, Grand Gorge and Denver. The GRBA receives technical assistance from the MARK Project — a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit community and economic development organization. For more information, visit roxburybusinessassociation.com.