Five Communities Tabbed for County Economic Development Grants
John Jordan | June 23, 2023
WHITE PLAINS—Westchester County officials announced on June 22 that five Westchester municipalities—Bedford, Dobbs Ferry, Mount Kisco, Pelham and Port Chester—were the inaugural winners of the county’s Downtown Improvement Grants.
Westchester County, along with the downtown experts from JGSC Group, created the unique Downtown Improvement Grant (DIG) Pilot Program to provide select municipalities with economic development support that will stimulate revitalization of their downtown communities. As the next phase of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development’s Business FIRST Program, DIG represents a shift of focus from immediate recovery to long-term strategic community support, county officials stated.
Each of the selected communities will receive comprehensive market analysis, a custom-designed strategic economic growth plan, and six-months of hands-on technical support and assistance, and up to $250,000 support for implementation efforts.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “The unique public-private approach and forward-thinking support that each of these communities will receive is what makes the DIG Program so unique and important as we continue our next phase of long-term economic development strategy. Bedford, Dobbs Ferry, Mount Kisco, Pelham and Port Chester are vital parts of our community that I am proud to support through this innovative stimulation of their local economies that will leave them even more vibrant and self-reliant.”
Westchester County Director of Operations and Chairperson of the County of Westchester Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Joan McDonald said, “Revitalization and growth are central to the work we do. While this grant was originally intended to support only four municipalities, I am proud to say we saw the need and opportunity to expand the DIG Program to provide critical rebuilding support to five communities in total.”
In early 2023, the county invited communities to apply for this pilot grant by submitting applications. Eligible communities included those that do not receive direct CDBG funds nor have received a NY State Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the past. Currently, Westchester County has begun work with JGSC Group and the selected communities to kick-off the grant program. The analysis and strategic planning portion of the grant program will begin in the next few weeks and continue through the end of the year.
Westchester County Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons said: “This is a major step forward in our ongoing Westchester County Business FIRST series of programs and initiatives that we began development on during the onset of the pandemic. We are pleased to offer this meaningful revitalization support to each of the beloved Westchester communities that were selected.”
Representing one of the five DIG grantee communities, Mayor of Mount Kisco, Gina D. Picinich, said: “We are so excited to be here today. Mount Kisco has always been a center for commerce in northern Westchester. Overall changes in the retail environment and increasing costs have made it particularly difficult for businesses to continue to thrive. These challenges impact everyone in our community, because a business is not about making money for themselves—they are also an employer—and again they contribute to the vitality of our community. We are really appreciative of being awarded this DIG grant, which will enable us to focus on further strengthening our economy and creating this environment for everyone to thrive.”
Community Challenges Being Addressed
While all of the communities that applied to take part in the pilot DIG Program share many things in common, such as an active economic development program, supporting budgets and staff, the communities also face unique challenges. The issue areas brought up by the five selected grant recipients range from: reducing vacancy rates, increasing foot traffic, attracting new businesses, retention of current businesses, enhancing the community experience, addressing parking issues, investing in the area’s visual appeal and more.
Westchester County Business FIRST: Financial Investments for Recovery and a Sustainable Tomorrow is a Grant Program designed to offer immediate financial relief to small businesses and nonprofits in Westchester County that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Westchester County Office of Economic Development works to improve the county’s economic well-being and quality of life. This includes a broad range of activities to attract, create and retain jobs, and to foster a resilient, pro-growth and inclusive economy. For information, visit https://westchestercatalyst.com/.
For more information on the Westchester County Business FIRST Downtown Improvement Grant Program, visit: https://westchestercatalyst.com/business-first-programs/.