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Governor Cuomo and Rochester Mayor Warren Announce Advisory Panel to Oversee Transformative "ROC The Riverway" Initiative

Panel will Conduct Public Process to Reimagine Genesee River and Prioritize Projects for the $50 Million State Investment

Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren recently announced 12 community members were chosen to serve as representatives on an advisory panel which will oversee the state's investment in the transformative "ROC The Riverway." This joint initiative of New York State and the City of Rochester will revitalize the city's waterfront along the Genesee River. Governor Cuomo has given the board until May to present proposed recommendations to increase public access and help reshape the future of downtown Rochester. This transformation builds off the demonstrated success of Buffalo's waterfront and will reestablish the Genesee River as the centerpiece of downtown Rochester.

"The 'ROC The Riverway' project will represent a true turning point in the city's history," Governor Cuomo said. "By leveraging public and private dollars, and capitalizing on the natural assets of the region, we are encouraging investment that will create jobs and increase tourism helping to move the Finger Lakes forward."

Empire State Development will support this ambitious project with up to $50 million through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. This sweeping investment leverages public dollars to encourage future private investment to unlock the full potential of Rochester's waterfront.

The advisory board will conduct a public process to review and prioritize plans for targeted public and private investments along the riverfront. The board is comprised of local stakeholders and will be chaired by Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Anne Kress and Bob Duffy who will be joined on the panel by:

  • Lisa Baron, Greentopia
  • Clement Chung, ROC City Coalition (Past President)
  • Veronica Dasher, Rochester Gas & Electric
  • Shawn Dunwoody, DUNWOODE Visual Consulting
  • Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy
  • Norman Jones, City of Rochester
  • Nichole Malec, Constellation Brands (Downtown Resident)
  • Eugenio Marlin, Ibero-American Development Corporation
  • Mary Beth Popp, North American Breweries
  • Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation

Providing a starting point for the board's work, the City of Rochester has developed a concept plan for "ROC The Riverway" that includes nearly 30 potential projects for consideration including: upgrades to Charles Carroll Park Plaza, breathing new life into Genesee Gateway Park, transforming the Rochester Riverside Convention Center as a premier public venue, revitalizing the Broad Street aqueduct and more. This concept plan supports the city's newly updated Local Waterfront Revitalization Program plan. It was developed in partnership with stakeholders across the Genesee River to attract millennials, enhance recreational opportunities and drive growth along the waterfront. A key component in the transformation of the city's center will be leveraging public and private investment to improve the waterfront area. The full plan can be viewed at the website:www.cityofrochester.gov/roctheriverway/

The advisory panel will hold a series of public meetings to engage the community and stakeholders interested in participating in this transformative opportunity. The first meeting will take place on Thursday, March 8th from 4-6 PM at the Monroe Community College Downtown Campus on State Street. The public can also offer feedback on the plan at www.cityofrochester.gov/roctheriverway/ and can follow the initiative's progress on Twitter @ROCtheRiver.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, "The ROC the Riverway Program will bring an unprecedented level of targeted investment along the Genesee River and open our riverfront to new possibilities and opportunities for growth. I am excited to work alongside Bob Duffy, Anne Kress, and my esteemed community partners on the Advisory Board to unleash the power of the mighty Genesee to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, and better educational opportunities for all of our citizens."

Finger Lakes REDC Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Rochester Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Duffy said, "The 'ROC The Riverway' initiative will no doubt be a game changer for Rochester's Genesee River waterfront. The advisory panel will engage the community and local leadership in the process which will focus on the smart growth development of Rochester's Downtown Innovation Zone. This project will create a destination area that will bring tourism and jobs downtown helping to move Rochester and the Finger Lakes forward."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Revitalizing Downtown Rochester's river corridor, bringing new jobs and visitors to an area that had been underused and underappreciated, reflects the type of strategic investment that has already brought Buffalo's waterfront back to life and demonstrates the economic impact of New York State's URI investments."

Senator Joe Robach said, "I am happy to support the efforts of Mayor Warren and the City Council to highlight the beauty of the Genesee River through 'ROC The Riverway.' This investment by New York State will go a long way to revitalizing the Downtown-Genesee River corridor and will make critical infrastructure improvements."

Senator Rich Funke said, "The 55th State Senate District is defined by its waterways and abundance of fresh water. The 'ROC the Riverway' Initiative will be instrumental in framing how our City and downtown area is perceived both locally, nationally, and internationally going forward. This advisory panel brings together many creative and accomplished individuals to ensure the end result will be beneficial to residents and tourists alike."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said, "The 'ROC the Riverway' advisory panel will serve a critical role in our ongoing efforts to revitalize our waterfront and strengthen our regional economy. I look forward to working with them, as well as our many government and community partners, to move this exciting project forward."

Assemblyman Harry Bronson said, "The Genesee River has historic and economic significance and investing in this revitalization project will boost our local economy. Under the leadership of Bob Duffy, Ann Kress and the commitment of the Advisory Panel the 'ROC the Riverway', will establish the Genesee River as the focal point of our downtown community and support the city's updated Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. This exciting and diverse team will allow local government and businesses to work together to draw more visitors' downtown throughout the year and bring the best in recreational, educational and business activities to the heart of our community."

Under Governor Cuomo, New York State has committed to unprecedented investments in the City of Rochester totaling more than $100 million for projects in and around the city center. That commitment has leveraged more than $800 million in private investment and has led to the creation of the new Rochester Downtown Innovation Zone.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.