USDA Rural Development and the Farm Services Agency sponsored the Rural New York Economic Development Forum earlier this month in Virgil, N.Y. we had an audience of about 60 business, government and economic development leaders.
We chose the Hope Lake Lodge as the location for the meeting because it is a great example of what USDA Rural Development can achieve. The five-story hotel– part of the Greek Peak Ski Resort – was financed in part by a $10 million Business and Industry (B&I) loan guarantee. Several attendees were surprised to discover Rural Development could finance such a facility and a few have already approached us to discuss specific projects the B&I program may be able to support.
Rep. Michael Arcuri was attending a high-speed rail press conference 80 miles away in Utica, N.Y. but opened the Forum with an address via telephone. Staff members from the offices of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Maurice Hinchey and Rep. Dan Maffei were in attendance. New York State Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, and staffers from the New York State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources were also present.
The leading barrier to job creation and economic development in rural New York was easily identified by the group. Almost everyone in attendance, whether in government or the private sector, felt the lack of access to capital combined with lenders’ risk aversion created the largest problem facing our state’s rural economy. Several other issues also were identified and included the lack of broadband and cellular telephone infrastructure – parts of rural New York have a paucity of cell towers. The need for streamlined, simplified application processes to federal and state grant and loan programs also was identified as a major issue, as was a general lack of information about Rural Development programs. These issues, as well as several others, are discussed in the report we compiled for Secretary Vilscack.
All in all, I was happy with our first-ever job creation and economic development forum. We had great attendance and received media coverage. The Forum has also provided us ideas for future events, such as the creation of a “co-funding” business team that would include our business program, the state’s primary economic development organization and other key stakeholders. Another idea we’ll examine is conducting smaller, industry-specific focus group discussions in various regions of the state.
More than 60 business, industry, economic development and government
leaders attended the USDA-sponsored Rural New York Economic Development
Forum on job creation and economic development opportunities on Feb. 5.
The event was held at Hope Lake Lodge in Virgil, N.Y., which was
financed in part by a $10 million B&I loan guarantee.
By Jill Harvey, New York State Director, USDA Rural Development