In the past year, the city has applied for five state and federal grants.
Three of the grants -- totaling nearly $2 million in funding -- have been awarded. The city invested a little more than $12,000 on the grant application process.
"That's quite a return on investment," City Manager Jason Molino told the City Council during Monday's conference meeting.
The city has been awarded $411,000 for the Bank Street Project, $1.5 million from RestoreNY for the Masse Gateway Project and $25,000 for records retention.
With two grant applications unresolved, the city is looking forward for more grant opportunities.
Brownfield Opportunity Area: This grant is designed to help governments focus on revitalization strategies, not actual rehabilitation, for under utilized and dormant sites. It's intended to help with development stages between planning and actual redevelopment, such as site assessments and environmental reviews. The program reimburses up to 90 percent of costs and is supposed to foster a private-public partnership in redevelopment. Property owner participation is required. Molino said the ideal area to target is what the city has identified as the Ellicott Microenterprise District as part of the Central Corridor Project. The district extends down Ellicott Street from Evans to Swan. "It takes several uses (commercial, retail, residential) and puts them together, which is what they're looking for," Molino said.
Small Cities Community Development Block Grant: There are two types of grants available in this program. One grant is available for a small city to replace outdated sewer and water systems in low- to moderate-income areas. The other allows for assistance to property owners of low- to moderate-income housing. Molino is suggesting that the city go after a housing rehab grant, but unlike the Jackson Street project of 10 years ago, where the grant program provided loans, the city will pursue a straight grant option. In whatever designated area selected (or citywide), homeowners of low- to moderate-incomes could get grants, or landlords who rent to low- or moderate-income tenants could receive a grant. Up to $400,000 is available for this program. Molino anticipates that individual grant awards to property owners would be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range each. The city could apply to the housing rehab program every year, Molino said. it is competitive though, with only one out of three grant applications accepted.
Records Management Grant: This year, the city received $25,000 for new shelving and software to convert key data records and city council minutes to electronic storage. This year, Molino said the city should apply for a grant to upgrade water metering and billing systems.
Upstate Blueprint Fund: This is a new state program intended to help communities attract business, improve commerce and revitalize downtown business areas. The program can fund grants and loans for businesses and municipalities. The program funds only 20 percent of a project and would require private business investment.