Ethnic diversity questioned in Gloversville’s DRI operation – The Daily Gazette

Gloversville – During the past six months of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative process in Gloversville, three economic development projects have been proposed and sponsored by ethnic minorities seeking to benefit from the grant, all of which were withdrawn prior to the final. Selecting projects that the 15-member local planning committee will send to New York state next month.

Committee member Lachon Hawkins—founder of the nonprofit I Can Breathe and I’ll Speak—was sponsor for one of these three projects. During a committee meeting on May 4, Hawkins raised the question of whether the DRI operation in Gloversville was racially diverse, and whether it had succeeded in supporting New York State’s DRI goal of building “a diverse population with residents and workers supported by housing and employment opportunities.” Supplementary Miscellaneous.”

“All of the proposals that have been put forward for minority companies, new companies, and so forth, have pulled out of it,” said Hawkins, who is Black. “no job [still being considered] In this dri that I feel meet [the state’s goals]. ”

The committee has not rejected any projects sponsored by ethnic minorities, and race cannot play any role in the selection of state-funded projects from the $10 million DRI grant, according to Michael Ndwell, the committee’s advisor at MRB Group.

These are the three projects proposed for DRI funding by people identified as part of a minority group, but later withdrawn:

• Restoration of Burton Block 54 N. Main – Sponsored by 518Properties, a company controlled by Michael Chase, proposed $2 million project to redevelop the 20,600 square foot vacant mixed-use building and possibly microbrewery, and was one of 18 original projects in successful application For the fifth round of Gloversville for a $10 million DRI grant. The for-profit project sought $800,000 in DRI funding, 40% of the project’s total cost.

• Create a “I Can Breathe and I Talk” Kitchen and Meeting Space – This project was sponsored by Hawkins’ non-profit organization and sought $500,000 to fund 100% of the cost of building a commercial kitchen and meeting space in the basement of CRG’s 34 W. Fulton County site st.

Family/Community Business Revitalization – Michael Medina, originally from Puerto Rico, has requested $627,300 in DRI funding to fund 40% of a $1.5 million project to rehabilitate 17-19 N. Main St. Main street.

“Those were withdrawn at the request of the sponsors, and just to make it clear that they were not eliminated by the LPC, those were either ineligible or the sponsor withdrew their request for consideration,” N’doll said. “I just want to make sure that’s clear.”

The proposed $21.2 million Glove City Lofts project, which is seeking $1.3 million in DRI funding, partially meets the state’s DRI goal of promoting diverse housing options, according to Lisa Nagel of Elan Planning, Design and Landscaping, the principal consultant. Gloversville is in the process of DRI. She said Kearney Development, the sponsor of the Glove City Lofts project, is seeking to build 75 affordable loft-style housing units at 52 Church St. She said the project must comply with all state and federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination based on race.

This project is aimed in particular at middle and low income residents, and must meet the requirements [requirements of] The Fair Housing Act, so that it is funded [would promote diverse housing]She said. Public projects are also open to all. There is no discrimination as to who can go to a public park for example.”

“I think he’s misunderstood,” Hawkins interjected during the May 4 meeting. “I do not mean that projects are implemented [discriminatory]What I’m saying is that there are no minority projects included in this DRI. That’s what I’m saying.”

Reasons for withdrawal

Hawkins was prevented from discussing her own project proposal under the rules of the DRI process during the planning committee meeting, but after the meeting made it clear that it was very difficult for her organization to answer all the questions and commitments required to fund the DRI in the short period of time between February and June

“No one can meet that time frame,” she said, adding that she believes her withdrawal resulted in a “domino effect” after which Medina and Chase withdrew.

Committee co-chair Wally Hart, director of community and business development at Lexington ARC, suggested during the May 4 meeting that businesses and nonprofits should reach out to the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth and the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce as resources on how to obtain public or private funding.

“We need to try to keep encouraging people to participate to apply [state funding] across the [Consolidated Funding Application] process, and working with those entities that can help them succeed,” Hart said.

Hawkins said that although her organization is located in the Fulton County CRG building, and this organization has been very beneficial to her, she still feels that the process of obtaining resources and assistance for commercial ventures, whether for-profit or non-profit, is not easily accessible. Extremely for minority entrepreneurs.

“You’re not going to find someone with an idea or a way to start a business on Pine Street, because you’re not on Pine Street,” Hawkins said of the organizations Hart referred to.

When she first sought out the $10 million DRI grant, Hawkins said, she was unaware that some applicants in the process had been working for five years to help the city win the grant, and were more prepared for the process than a newcomer like herself.

“Keep on saying [information] He was on the city web page, he was on Facebook and all that stuff, and he was on The Leader-Herald, but, again – I have an office at CRG – and I was one of the people who was misled, so I feel the information should be more,” she said. “I didn’t realize this was a five-year project they had been working on for five years, and it got rejected. I didn’t know about the long-running process that actually led to the city winning this. I didn’t know a lot of these projects were part of previous apps, so I was misleading. This information should have been available.”

Nagle said she has participated in each of the five rounds of New York State’s $10 million DRI competition, and from her experience, projects that tend to receive DRI funding support are the ones most willing to get started faster. She dismissed the idea that the Gloversville direct iron operation had too many projects in the works for five years.

“Everyone withdrew for different reasons,” she said of the withdrawn projects. “The time frame is set by the DRI software, and I’m just facilitating that process.”

Nagl said she believes New York State wants a rapid transformation of the DRI process in part based on an economic development philosophy that uses DRI funding as the last part of a project ready to go immediately, rather than as a “first” — into financing that stimulates private sector investment.

“It’s not meant to be the first money that goes into a spark, and I’ve said this publicly. The intent of DRI is really to help bridge a gap in the end, and it’s a project that’s really close to completion, but it needs a little bit of financial help to get there.”

City, who is originally from Puerto Rican, is one of the few, if not the only, business owners to be identified as being part of a minority population in the DRI area of ​​Gloversville. DRI’s proposal was to renovate his building to create some light manufacturing for the “line of indoor hair care products” he sells at the barbershop and to construct three apartments. He pulled out of the direct iron process.

“I voluntarily withdrew from the DRI grant, not because it was impossible for me, because if the company could meet all the criteria for that DRI money, it would get the DRI money,” he said. “The project that I was proposing would have cost about $1.5 million and there would be almost no way to get that value back from the building because 10 or 20 years from now the building wouldn’t be very valuable, so it was great to set up this business in this building, but it It wasn’t something I wanted to commit to. Although the building could be occupied, it wouldn’t have made that much of the cost of this project.”

Madina rejected the idea that race played any role in the direct iron process. He said he thought Hawkins’ project proposal was a little intimidating because he was looking for 100 percent funding. He said Michael Chase’s proposal was similar to his in that it would cost a lot of money to renovate their buildings, and it was not certain that any business owner could recoup such a huge investment.

“This money is available to anyone, no matter what race they belong to,” he said. “Minorities in this case happen to have submitted applications and may not have been fully aware of the scope of this DRI project. There is a lot of paperwork, reading and self-education that goes along with this, so I think this money would have been available to Lachon or Mr. Chase had they met the necessary criteria “.

Michael Chase did not return several phone calls seeking comment for this story.

$600,000 GLOVERSVILLE Reinvestment Incentive Program

Mayor Vince DeSantis, who co-chairs the LPC, said he remains hopeful that several minority-sponsored economic development projects will seek to benefit from a downtown improvement grant fund that is very likely to be funded as a DRI project. He said Gloversville advisers and state officials said the improvement fund, which is typically about $600,000, is almost always funded as part of the $10 million DRI grant program.

“It is unfortunate that these projects were not entered, and were withdrawn due to a significant portion missing,” DeSantis said. “But, having said that, we still want these things to happen in Gloversville, and there are other ways for them to happen. For one of them there is this (Gloversville Reinvestment Incentive Program, aka GRIP) which will be about $600,000 to fund small businesses that require less funding. So, it’s not that these projects are completely off-limits, and we’re going to do everything we can to help those.”

Medina said he would apply for a smaller grant through the Improvement Fund.

“I will definitely, that money seems more in line with the kind of project that I would like to do that I can do, and I think you will see some of these other applicants applying for that money as it becomes available,” he said.

Hawkins said she also intends to seek funding from the Downtown Improvement Fund if and when the state approves it as part of the $10 million direct reduction initiative.

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