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Revitalizing the Southern Tier with the Help of the Appalachian Regional Commission

Gov. Kathy Hochul, NY

New York’s Southern Tier region is part of the rich, geographically diverse fabric that makes up New York State. It is home to highly sought-after educational institutions, a mix of innovative industries, more than 5,300 farms and nearly 5 million acres of forestland that contribute to climate mitigation and the State’s $22 billion forest industry. The largely rural Southern Tier has been experiencing a resurgence over the past several years – a resurgence that has been fueled in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The ARC was established in 1965 to help stimulate rural economies across the 13 states that stretch along the Appalachian region from the northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi to the Southern Tier of New York. New York’s ARC region, comprised of 14 counties largely in the Southern Tier, stretches from the Catskills to the Great Lakes. It represents 20% of the state’s geography but only 6% of the state’s population.

Over the past decade, New York’s ARC Program has awarded more than $36 million in ARC-sponsored grants for Area Development and Local Development District operations, as well as other ARC-related initiatives. It has helped to address the region’s shortage of health care professionals, to foster regional tourism, to encourage students and teachers to engage in STEM programs, and to abate the insidious crisis of substance use disorder.

As we continue our efforts to combat the impacts of COVID-19 and rebuild New York, ARC will continue to make a difference across the region by bolstering our bold agenda.  

New York State will continue to lead as the green energy capital of the nation through the ambitious goals we have set as part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.  ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative will help us build a bold green economy. The program will offer grants to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities by cultivating economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing or new industries, and attracting new sources of investment.

New York is also working to ensure universal broadband access for all, especially in our rural areas. We learned through the pandemic that the key to success is about access, which today is attainable through broadband and the Internet. We will continue efforts to establish the first-in-the-nation requirement for affordable Internet for qualifying low-income families. As part of its broader goals, New York’s ARC Program is also focused on supporting projects to facilitate the expansion of internet and broadband access.

Responding to COVID while increasing community connectivity is not done in a silo. We will only be successful through the continued cooperation of federal, state and local government and private industry. The ARC supports Local Development Districts that work tirelessly to strengthen regionalism in planning to ensure that economic opportunity reaches all parts of New York State. The ARC program has been instrumental in upstate revitalization initiatives, including supporting downtown revitalization initiatives in several cities and towns to bring new business across the state’s ARC region. 

A perfect example of the ARC’s impact is illustrated in the revitalization of Watkins Glen, which first received an ARC grant in 2004 to develop a Business District Improvement Strategy and then in 2009 for a Lakefront Management and Development Plan for Schuyler County. These investments and strategies laid the groundwork, which led to $2.4 million in state investments through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. This ultimately culminated in Watkins Glen being awarded with $10 million of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds to accelerate the village’s economic resurgence.

As we look to the post-COVID world here in the Southern Tier, we are aiming high and dreaming big with a vision for a green economy and access for all. The ARC is an integral part of bringing this vision to life. I look forward to building a better future for this region of New York State and working together with our partners to make the ARC a vehicle to bring resources and prosperity to this region.

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BIO: Governor Kathy Hochul began her career in public service on her local Town Board before serving as Erie County Clerk, and then as a member of Congress for New York’s 26th Congressional District. She more recently served in statewide office as Lieutenant Governor and now as the first female Governor of the State of New York.

Lieutenant Governor

 As Lieutenant Governor from 2015 to 2021, Hochul successfully spearheaded numerous initiatives and lead the administration’s economic development and job creation efforts across the state, working every day to advocate for policies that help all New Yorkers make ends meet.

She also helped New York State manage the COVID-19 pandemic response, while focusing on a recovery that builds back better and more inclusive.

Hochul chaired the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils that have transformed the state’s economy by building upon regional strengths through long-term strategic plans.

She also served as co-chair of the state’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force to hear from experts and community members in search of answers to the opioid crisis and develop a comprehensive strategy for New York. 

As Lieutenant Governor, she championed the ‘Enough is Enough’ law to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, spearheaded the state’s Paid Family Leave program, and worked to eliminate the gender wage gap, expand access to affordable child care, and combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and beyond.

She served as chair of the State’s Women’s Suffrage Commission and co-chair of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force.

In Congress

From 2011 to 2013, Hochul served in the U.S. House representing New York’s 26th Congressional District. Then Congresswoman Hochul served on the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, traveling to Afghanistan to confer with military leaders and meet with active duty men and women. Her focus in Congress was job creation and bridging the skills gap by bringing together business and academia, and creating opportunities for returning veterans.

Early Career and Education

Hochul served as Erie County Clerk from 2007 to 2011.  Before that, Hochul worked for 14 years as a Hamburg Town Board member. She served as liaison to the local economic development agency and worked to attract new businesses and create jobs following the loss of the Western New York manufacturing base.

Hochul holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She began her legal career working at a large firm in Washington, D.C. and later served as legal counsel and legislative assistant to Congressman John LaFalce and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She was instrumental in drafting legislation related to campaign finance reform, immigration reform and combatting drug abuse.

In 2006, Hochul joined her mother and aunt in establishing the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for victims of domestic violence.

In Congress

From 2011 to 2013, Hochul served in the U.S. House representing New York’s 26th Congressional District. Then Congresswoman Hochul served on the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, traveling to Afghanistan to confer with military leaders and meet with active duty men and women. Her focus in Congress was job creation and bridging the skills gap by bringing together business and academia, and creating opportunities for returning veterans.

Early Career and Education

Hochul served as Erie County Clerk from 2007 to 2011.  Before that, Hochul worked for 14 years as a Hamburg Town Board member. She served as liaison to the local economic development agency and worked to attract new businesses and create jobs following the loss of the Western New York manufacturing base.

Hochul holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a law degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She began her legal career working at a large firm in Washington, D.C. and later served as legal counsel and legislative assistant to Congressman John LaFalce and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She was instrumental in drafting legislation related to campaign finance reform, immigration reform and combatting drug abuse.

In 2006, Hochul joined her mother and aunt in establishing the Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for victims of domestic violence.

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