After two years of unsuccessful bids, Joe Fiumara, executive director of Fulton's Community Development Agency, says their 2018 application for New York's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) competition is the golden ticket.
"We’re trying to give the governor a reason to come back into Oswego County with another $10 million," Fiumara said. "I think we’ve done it this year."
In the central New York region, Fulton lost out to Oswego in 2016 and Cortland in 2017. But Fiumara says they have learned from their mistakes and are taking a more targeted approach this time around.
"We made a compact downtown boundary," He said. "In our past applications, we wanted to include every type of commercial offering we had in the city of Fulton. We found that wasn't feasible, so we wanted to make it more compact and give us the chance to create that vibrant downtown the governor’s looking for and we think with this boundary we can do that."
Also new - Fiumara says they have outlined a way to address every vacant or underutilized building within that narrower downtown district.
The application this year features a variety of projects that have already attracted investment: residents and area businesses are working together to build several walking and biking trails throughout the city that will link Fulton's historic buildings, anchor institutions and the oswego river; Cayuga Community College's Fulton campus is working with area employers to develop new manufacturing and healthcare training programs; and a key project the city hopes to receive funding for is the redevelopment of the former Nestle plant.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward says the city has already borrowed nearly $4 million to tear down the defunct plant and prepare the site for new commercial tenants.
"We have made a significant investment on demo-ing those old buildings on that 24-acre site, and now this money would certainly help to redevelop that," Woodward said. "It would bring jobs. It will help Fulton climb out of this financial boondoggle we’ve been in since 2009."
One municipality in each region of the state is awarded $10 million. According to the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, there are five competing with Fulton for this year's prize.