News from Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell’s Office on Brewster being selected as an ‘opportunity area:’
The Village of Brewster was chosen by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) as an “Opportunity Area” and as such, will have the help of the Council in implementing their goals for overcoming “chronic unemployment and underemployment while raising the community through economic revitalization.”
Brewster’s selection was announced by County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Putnam’s Economic Development Corporation President Meghan Taylor (Aug. 2).
“This is wonderful news,” said Odell. “The Village of Brewster was in competition with several other villages in our region. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area will go a long way in helping Brewster village officials reach their goals to revitalize the Main Street area.”
“I was quite optimistic that Brewster would be selected,” said Taylor. “It was a good fit. The Village certainly met the Council’s criteria for its applicants. I really am very excited about the direction in which Brewster is heading. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area is going to help their revitalization process along quite nicely.”
Taylor was instrumental in guiding Brewster officials through the paperwork as they gathered in mid-July to begin the application process. In order to qualify as an Opportunity Area, village officials had to show Brewster met MHREDC requirements of geographic size, population, poverty rates and low home ownership levels.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo initiated the “Opportunity Area” program during his 2013 State of the State Address when he charged the State’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils with the task of developing an Opportunity Agenda whose purpose would be to focus on the challenges preventing distressed communities from fully participating in the State’s economic revitalization efforts.
While being designated an Opportunity Area does not come with a promise of increased funding from the State, Taylor explained that it does enhance Brewster’s standing when applying for other funding initiatives.
“Being designated as an Opportunity Area will give Brewster an edge over other applicants when applying for grants and other forms of funding,” said Taylor. “The MHREDC has put an initial stamp of approval on the Village. They see it for the great potential it has,” she said.
The Village now must develop their implementation plan. In devising this plan, Brewster leaders will need to assure the MHREDC that their strategies focus on the organization’s twin goals of moving people from poverty to employment and demonstrating how revitalization within the community will occur.
In return, the MHREDC will assist Village leaders in identifying impediments to their goals and assist them in their search for additional grants and State funding in order to reach those goals.