Local leaders explore community renewal development opportunities

NORWICH – Local elected officials, business people and non-profit directors gathered last week to hear how they can use state funding to better their communities.

Two representatives from the Office of Community Renewal, a division of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, traveled from Albany to give an informative presentation on two programs administered through their agency: The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the New York Main Street program.

The workshop, hosted by Commerce Chenango, drew an audience of mayors, town supervisors, councilmen and entrepreneurs as well representatives from several county agencies and non-profits.

According to program literature, the goal of the CDBG program is “to develop viable communities by providing decent, affordable housing, and suitable living environments, as well as expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate income.”

Counties with populations under 200,000 and other municipalities (such as towns, villages and cities) with populations under 50,0000 are eligible to receive financial assistance through the program.

“In Chenango County, the county and every single municipality is eligible,” explained Senior Economic Developer Chris Hunsinger.

The state level program is funded by an allocation from Housing and Urban Development which, according to Hunsinger, exceeded $47.4 million for 2008.

Roughly 60 percent of that total was earmarked for community development projects and 34 percent for economic development. The remainder was distributed in several other areas including imminent threat and community planning.

“There is a lot of pressure for our money,” said Hunsinger. “Federal and State resources are dwindling.”

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