Editor’s note: The following is a portion of remarks made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday at the announcement of the Fulton Downtown Revitilization Award. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be back in Fulton. First, let me begin by acknowledging the Common Council President Don Patrick Jr. Thank you for being here. Give him a round of applause. We have our Senator or my colleague from Albany. I would like to say the Governor gets to do everything on his or her own. That is not the case. You need the legislature to do everything and we have had a great partnership. Senator Patty Ritchie is a fantastic representative for you and it is a pleasure to have her here. Senator Patty Ritchie. Mayor Ron Woodward thank you for all of your service and for all you have done for this beautiful community for all of these years. Let’s give the Mayor a round of applause to thank him. We have the members of our Regional Economic Development Council Deborah Stanley and Randy Wolken. Let’s ask them to stand up and thank them.
Okay, big crowd. Excited why? You think you are going to have good news? Is that why? Let me get to the point. All of us in elected office, all of us involved in the community, are really trying to do one thing at the end of the day, which is to make this state, to make this city, to make this community a better community. Your fundamental responsibility as a citizen, as a parent, is to leave the place better than you found it. Maybe not so much for us. I’m 62 years old. I’m pretty far down the road, but I have three beautiful young daughters and they are just starting their journey. I want to make sure that we leave them a home that is better than the home we had. More opportunity, safer, cleaner, better than what we had. That is the fundamental responsibility. And we each do it in a different way.
Most of the state legislators come from New York City. New York City is a great city, an international city, but there’s a whole state above New York City, right? It’s not just about the city. The bulk, the majority of the state is in upstate New York and upstate New York was suffering for decades. And the state government was deaf, dumb and blind to the needs of upstate New York.
We have a Regional Economic Development Council which is a new entity which said we have to get out of this mentality where every county has to take care of itself, every city has to take care of itself, the economy really works in regions. The Western New York region is working, the Central New York region is working, but it’s not just one county. It’s the region of those counties so we set up regional economic development councils to come up with regional economic plans. And the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council has done a great job because the region does work together and tourism is working for us, advanced manufacturing, new industries are working for us, and for any of these things to happen the transportation system has to work, so we went, we rebuilt Syracuse Airport which finally needed it and it’s a totally different facility than it was. The State Fair had such potential to bring in people. We’re setting records at the State Fair, over 1 million people come. We built a whole new complex at the State Fair. If you haven’t been there in a few years you should go back.
In some ways the local level is most important. Why? Because that’s where you get to custom design the approach. Local government does know best, and you know the needs of Fulton better than anybody in Albany, because you live it. You live it. So we started a program we call the “DRI.” Why? Because nobody uses words in government - everything has to be an acronym. “DRI” is the downtown revitalization initiative. And what it said to local government, it said “Look, you tell us what you need. How does it work for you?” We have these big things going on - Syracuse Airport, state fair, etc. “But how do you make it work in your community? What’s your specific plan? And then we’ll help you invest in your plan.” That’s the DRI concept. And Fulton put together a brilliant plan - and you’re right, you have the 481 corridor on one side, the river on the other. How do you capture that traffic in the city, and how do you grow the city using those two traffic corridors? That has always been the challenge, and you’ve done it - you’ve done it with entertainment. The marina on the river I think is very smart; the tavern is very smart; the bed and breakfast is very smart. You have to have the services to get that traffic to stop on the river and do business here. Repurposing the Nestle plant - Amen, I say, finally. That is exactly right. Attracting a drone industry, because I do believe this region can be the drone capital of this country. Fiber optics in because people want to know if they’re going to do business they can get linked in it doesn’t matter if they’re in Fulton or if they’re on Park Avenue or if they’re in Paris, if you have Fiber Optics you can be anywhere. But, you need that technology and your DRI calls to put that in. So the plan is brilliant and smart, kudos for developing that plan.
Now let me give you a little context. The DRI went too well, what does that mean? That means we planned to have ten winners statewide. Maximum amount of the award for a winning town, city, would be ten million dollars. We received over 100 applications for the ten spots, that’s why I say it went too well. So 100 applications, you can only have ten winners and then of those ten you can only have a maximum of a ten million dollar award. To be in the top ten, that means you have to be in the top ten percent and I know were a competitive society and everybody wants to be first and I have to be in first place and I have to wins and if I don’t win everything then I lose. Good that’s what makes us New York and that’s what gives us heart attacks very early on.
If you’re in second place that means you’re in the top 20 percent and that is still great to be in the top 20 percent, right? 10 million dollars is a lot of money, yes, but 8 million dollars is a lot of money, 5 million dollars is a lot of money, and can go a long way towards helping you achieve a goal. So, expectations and calibration are important here. Not everybody can win when you have 100 applications not everybody’s going to be in the top 10. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of because the competition is so tough. Are you - am I communicating what I am trying to express? Life is expectations. Okay. With that context, I’m pleased to announce that Fulton has won first place, 10 million dollars. Congratulations. You did it. Congratulations.