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Governor Hochul: Village of Lancaster and Village of Wellsville to Receive $4.5 Million Each

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New $100 Million NY Forward Program Builds on Momentum of the Successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to Support a More Equitable Downtown Recovery for New York’s Smaller and Rural Communities

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Village of Lancaster and the Village of Wellsville will each receive $4.5 million in funding as the Western New York region winners of the first round of NY Forward. Building on the momentum of the state’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the Downtown Revitalization Initiative to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York’s smaller and rural communities. As part of NY Forward Round One, two to three awards will be granted to smaller communities in each of the state’s 10 economic development regions to support the development and implementation of a downtown revitalization plan.  

“New York’s downtowns are the lifeblood of our state, and my administration is committed to ensuring communities in every region have the resources they need to thrive,” Governor Hochul said. “Through NY Forward, we’re building on the continued success of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative to provide crucial support to New York’s smaller and rural communities. I’m proud to announce this funding today for Lancaster and Wellsville to help bring our downtowns back and strengthen our communities for the next generation of New Yorkers.”

NY Forward is a component of the state’s economic development efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand New York’s burgeoning downtown revitalization. NY Forward is meant to serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a feel and historic character that is distinct from larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature, focusing on the immediate surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development. 

Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support smaller communities that may have less capacity as part of the NY Forward program and fund projects appropriately scaled to the size of the community. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town authenticity. 


The Village of Wellsville’s historic downtown has a significant collection of architecturally and historically significant buildings and benefits from its close proximity to Alfred State College and Alfred University. The Village of Wellsville’s vision is to capitalize on its unique small-town historic character while pursuing economic activity to create a community that is a thriving, walkable, equitable place. Building off recent commercial and industrial growth, Wellsville seeks to foster new projects that cultivate investment and attract new residents, including preserving and adaptively reusing historic buildings, creating new and diverse housing choices, improving its business park and investing in parks, trails and placemaking.


The Village of Lancaster is home to two National Historic Districts and a number of historic landmark buildings and structures that create a unique sense of place within the village’s traditional business district. In recent years, the village has begun to see a renaissance resulting from collaboration and planning. Investments in placemaking, walkability, green space, building rehabilitation and infill development are helping transform downtown Lancaster into a bustling center of activity well-served by public transportation. Building on this progress, Lancaster aims to create a 21st Century Downtown with a vibrant village center that retains its traditional historic character and walkability, while encouraging and supporting enhanced economic development, health and wellness for residents and visitors, environmentally friendly infrastructure and practices, multimodal transportation and affordable housing options.

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “Building on the success of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, NY Forward targets downtowns in smaller and rural communities to accelerate New York’s thriving downtown resurgence. Lancaster and Wellsville are the first communities in Western New York to benefit from this new program, and I look forward to seeing them develop strategic plans that will help breathe new life into these communities and the entire Western New York region.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Economic development is never static, and with NY Forward, we are moving ahead with a focused approach to revitalizing our smaller and rural communities across the state. Following a Downtown Revitalization Initiative model, but scaled to size, the Villages of Lancaster and Wellsville will look to incorporate the best of their historic downtowns in developing Strategic Investment Plans for program funding that will accelerate their vibrancy and future growth.” 

State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, “Investments such as these through the NY Forward program support our communities and residents. The ongoing revitalization of the historic Lancaster business district will further enhance the local economy, encourage future development and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.”

Assemblymember Michael J. Norris said, “I am pleased to work with Governor Hochul and my colleagues in the legislature to ensure that we are investing in the revitalization of Western New York communities and are supporting the economic development, infrastructure, transportation and municipal needs of communities such as Lancaster and others across our region.  I look forward to continuing to work hard to deliver for Western New York and continue to grow our community.”

Assemblymember Joseph Giglio said, “This investment of $4.5 million in Wellsville’s downtown should provide a boost to the economy of the region and improve the quality of life for the residents of my district. I am pleased to see that the State is committed to the revitalization of Wellsville and other small communities in Western New York.” 

Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler said, “Village of Wellsville thanks Governor Hochul and the State of New York for this award.  We appreciate the confidence placed in our Village in this next step of our current economic development.  The impact of this grant is tremendous and will be felt in Wellsville for generations.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner said, “Small and rural communities are the heart and soul of Western New York. Governor Hochul’s new NY Forward program recognizes that and will work to fuel the revitalization of these communities. We are pleased that, as Western New York’s first NY Forward recipients, the villages of Lancaster and Wellsville will each receive $4.5 million to support their economic development plans and accelerate opportunities.” 

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered the criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:

  • Downtown is compact with well-dened boundaries;
  • Downtown can capitalize on prior, or catalyze future private and public investment;
  • Recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
  • Downtown is an attractive and livable community for diverse populations;
  • Municipality embraces, or has the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
  • Municipality has conducted open and robust community engagement to develop a preliminary list of projects and initiatives for downtown revitalization that may be included in a Strategic Investment Plan; 
  • Municipality has identied transformative projects ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of NY Forward funds; and
  • Municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.

Lancaster and Wellsville will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead the eort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.

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