Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-New City-Pomona) wants to find out why the county received few of the grants awarded to the Mid-Hudson region as part of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Day called for a meeting of the legislature’s Economic Development Committee to examine the process and how Rockland can improve its chances.
“There were 11 applications from Rockland and one from the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (submitted),” said Day.
He said the end results were disappointing.
"Of the eighty-four (84) projects, with grants totaling $92.8 million, there were only three single recipient project awards, valued at $1.85 million, for Rockland applicants,” said Day. “While admittedly a rough overview, gaining a mere two percent of the total dollars awarded appears damning and frankly is unacceptable to me.”
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski previously also called attention to Rockland’s apparent lack of success in receiving award funds and plans to look into the state’s approval process. Day said the two inquiries would be complementary with the goal to help improve the county’s economy.
“There needs to be a more broad, a more joint approach of county government,” explained Day. “We need to have a aggressive course of action for economic development.”
The Rockland-based projects selected are all located in Ramapo. They include $500,000 for construction of a medical office building by Bon Secours Charity Health System; $600,000 for a community grocery store and expansion of a service organization in New Square; and $750,000 to acquire vacant land for expansion of the Hatzlacha supermarket and the nonprofit SHARE in the Village of New Square.
Day observed no funding found its way to four of the five Rockland towns and that surrounding counties fared much better, with 20 awards going to Westchester County and 12 for Orange County. Day emphasized getting the awards is critical if Rockland’s tax base is be increased instead of relying on raising the tax rate.
“Investment, the creation of wealth, increasing jobs, and broadening our tax base are the strategies that will bring economic vitality to Rockland, not accepting the status quo and raising taxes. Gaining two percent of the pie is not fundamentally changing anything here in Rockland, and given the economic pressure we are all feeling, it is critical in my view to identify where the shortcomings are. Is it a matter of the process or is it something systemic that can be improved upon,” said Day.
He expects the hearing will be scheduled later in January for legislature’s Economic Development Committee. Information on agendas for scheduled legislative committee meetings can be found here.