Home News Chamber News

Print Recommend

Chamber News

  • Rensselaer County Regional Chamber names next president

    Tuesday, 24 November 2015

    Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Tony McManus announced today that Michael F. O’Sullivan has been named the next president of the organization, effective Jan. 4, 2016. O’Sullivan is the former publisher of The (Troy) Record and The Saratogian. He will succeed Linda Hillman, who announced in June that she would be stepping down after 15 years in the position.

    Michael F OSullivan

    “Mike is an accomplished executive with extensive experience leading organizations in sales, marketing, strategic planning, finance and budgeting, human resources and general operations,” said McManus. “We are confident that he is the right leader to keep the chamber moving forward with continued success.”

    Chamber Board Chair-Elect Michael DiAcetis, who chaired the Executive Search Committee, said, “We were fortunate to have several strong candidates for the position, and that is a tribute to the outstanding organization that Linda Hillman has built. It soon became apparent that Mike O’Sullivan is just what we need to take the chamber to the next level.”

    "It's an honor to become president of such a great organization,” said O’Sullivan. “Linda, all the staff and board members have done a terrific job serving the membership and the community for a long time. I look forward to continuing that tradition as the Chamber and the county continue to grow." 

    From 2004 to mid-2015, O’Sullivan worked for Digital First Media as publisher of The Record and The Saratogian, overseeing day-to-day operations of the local media company that includes two daily and Sunday newspapers, one weekly newspaper, two seasonal publications and three websites. Prior to that, he served as publisher at Southern Rhode Island Newspapers, a group of 15 publications. He has also worked as advertising director, general manager and account executive for several newspapers and communications groups throughout the East Coast.

    O’Sullivan is an active community volunteer, providing service to many organizations. In 2013, he served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Saratoga 150 committee which led the 150th anniversary celebration of horse racing in Saratoga Springs. He is a current member of the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club and has served as a member of the boards of directors of the Saratoga County Convention and Visitors Bureau and New York Press Association.

    Previously, O’Sullivan served as a board member of several other chambers of commerce in communities where he worked. He has also coached youth basketball and baseball teams. 

    He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with specialization in marketing from Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

    “We know there are exciting times ahead for the Chamber as Mike takes the lead,” said McManus.  “Linda built a really solid foundation for a new president to build on and we know that Mike has the experience, expertise, creativity and enthusiasm to lead us into the future.”

  • Governor Cuomo Announces $350,000 in Funding Available to Increase Use of Locally Grown Foods in Schools

    Monday, 28 September 2015

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new funding opportunity for school districts across New York State aimed at connecting them to local growers and producers to increase the use of locally grown specialty crops. Through the Farm to School program, $350,000 in grants is now available for projects that will help Pre-K through Grade 12 schools procure and serve healthy, locally grown foods on school menus. 

    "The Farm to School program is a win-win that supports New York farmers as well as ensures the use of fresh, healthy foods in school meals across the state," said Governor Cuomo. "By providing funding for key projects like training and equipment, we can help strengthen our agriculture industry and build a healthier New York."


    The Farm to School program is aimed at developing and strengthening connections between farms and schools to help grow the agricultural economy and increase the amount and variety of specialty crops procured by schools for healthier meal options. New York State produces a wide range of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, herbs and spices, which rank highly in the nation in terms of both production and economic value. 

    Applicants for the program can includePre-K through 12 school food authorities, charter schools, not-for-profit schools, and other entities participating in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs and/or operating Summer Food Service Programs.


    Projects eligible for grant funding across New York’s school districts may include:

    • Employing of a local or regional farm to school coordinator.
    • Training programs for food service staff to increase knowledge of local procurement and preparation of locally produced specialty crops.
    • Purchase of equipment needed to increase capacity of school kitchen and food service staff to prepare and serve locally produced specialty crops.
    • Capital improvements to support the transport and/or storage of locally produced specialty crops.

    The Farm to School program was first announced as a result of Governor Cuomo’s Capital for a Day in Rochester, which he created to bring state government directly to the people it serves. The day-long event partnered state officials with residents, local leaders and stakeholders to examine first-hand the needs of a community and how New York State government can build upon its strengths and make a positive impact on its residents. 

    The commissioners from the State Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Health and the Office of General Services joined leaders from the New York Apple Association, Farm Fresh First, Empire Potato Growers and New York State Vegetable Growers Association, Brockport School District and the New York City School Support Services, to discuss increasing the procurement of New York State food products in New York’s more than 700 schools. The discussion centered on the growers’ delivery system and the school districts’ needs and purchasing process, and how to make it easier to bring the two together.

    New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We have been working hard to find ways to strengthen the connection between our farmers and our New York schools statewide, and the Farm to School program gives us a tremendous start. We not only want to make sure that our school children have access to fresh, healthy foods, but also that they know where their meals come from. This new program will help overcome some of the challenges schools may face in sourcing product locally and make it easier for them to increase the use of New York's locally grown foods straight from the farm."

    New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Thanks to this program, New York’s school children will reap the nutritional benefits that comes with eating our state’s fresh produce. Locally grown crops are always the best option in terms of getting the maximum nutrients. Our state is fortunate to have such a diversity of fruits and vegetables, which is essential to a healthy diet."

    New York State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito said, "These grants will not only increase the amount of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables being served in our schools, they will help achieve Governor Cuomo's goal of providing more opportunities for small and midsize companies in the agricultural industry to do business with New York. We are looking forward to growing this program throughout the state over the 2015-2016 school year."

    Jim Liebow, New York State Lead for National Farm to School Network and Food Service Director at Brockport Central School District said, "Farm to School is on the rise all across New York State. Food Service Directors are seeing the positive benefits of developing their locally sourced Farm to School programs to nourish their students and help them grow and learn. The support from Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball will help bring the needed equipment, training and financial incentives to those districts to start, maintain and grow their Farm to School programs. Agriculture in all forms are an integral part of New York’s economy and school districts can certainly help in this mission."

    Raymond Denniston, Special Project Coordinator for Food Services at Broome-Tioga BOCES said, "The Farm to School Grant is a great opportunity for interested schools and community to define the possibilities and address the challenges of creating a successful Farm to School Program." 

    For more information on the Farm to School Grant program, click here.

    All applicants must register and apply through the Grants Gateway portal here and use the Program Identifier "FTSCG." 

    The deadline to apply is 4:30 p.m. on October 19. Awards will be made in November 2015.

  • Chamber President To Be Honored

    Thursday, 27 August 2015


    The Troy Record

    Troy Rehabilitation & Improvement Program and Rensselaer County Housing Resources will hold their annual HomeComing Dinner Oct. 19 at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom in Troy.

    TRIP & RCHR will present their Community Citizenship Award to Linda Hillman, president of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Former Record editor Lisa Robert Lewis is this year’s HomeComing Dinner Chair.

    “Over the last 15 years, under Linda Hillman’s leadership, the chamber has expanded its programs, increased its membership and has come to play a vital role in the economic development and quality of life of our region,” Lewis said. “Linda’s work in reinvigorating the chamber’s Leadership Program has helped hundreds of young professionals develop their professional skills while exploring their vision for the community.”

    “The chamber’s move to the historic Proctor’s Building is another example of Linda’s commitment to the revitalization of our community. That decision created a buzz that has since led other businesses to reinvest in Troy,” said TRIP Executive Director Patrick Madden. “A strong business community leads to improved quality of life for all citizens. Linda has been a tireless advocate for both. We are delighted to present her with this year’s Community Citizenship Award.”

    Also that evening TRIP will present the 2015 Troy Treasure Award to a resident or business that is devoted to improving Troy. Honorary Committee tickets are $150 per person or $250 for two tickets. Dinner sponsorships are also being sought. Individual dinner tickets are $75 per person.

    To join the TRIP & RCHR Honorary Dinner Committee or to purchase dinner tickets for the 2015 Annual HomeComing Dinner, contact Gail Padalino at TRIP at 272-8289, Ext. 212 or e-mail gail@triponline.org.

    Honorary Committee reservations are requested by Aug. 27.

  • Accelerated Paving Projects

    Wednesday, 26 August 2015

    Governor Cuomo Announces Accelerated Paving Projects Set to Begin

    Paving set to begin on Hoosick Street and Route 787 in the Capital Region and on portions of Route 18 and Route 33A in the Finger Lakes

    Governor Cuomo announced that resurfacing projects in Rensselaer, Albany and Monroe Counties are set to begin as early as next week. Construction on a $3.07 million project to repave Hoosick Street (Route 7) in Troy, Rensselaer County, and Route 787 in Cohoes, Albany County is scheduled to start next week. In addition, construction is set to begin on a $4 million project to resurface portions of Route 18 (Latta Road) in Greece and Rochester and Route 33A (Chili Avenue) in Gates, Monroe County. The work is part of $75 million in resurfacing projects across New York State that were accelerated into this construction season in order to repair widespread damage caused by deep frost last winter.

    “With another winter just around the corner, this administration is doing everything in its power to ensure that crucial maintenance and repairs to New York’s roadways are completed in order to be ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store,” Governor Cuomo said. “By completing these projects now, we’ll be able safeguard against future damage, and the long traffic delays that come with it, down the road.”

    New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, “By advancing this paving into 2015, Governor Cuomo has guaranteed that these roads will be able to better withstand upcoming winter weather and will continue to be safe for Capital Region and Monroe County travelers. These resurfacing projects and other preventive maintenance activities allow us to make cost-efficient investments to keep our roads and bridges in a state of good repair.”

    Capital Region:
    The project will pave Route 787 in Cohoes from Tibbits Avenue to Saratoga Street (Route 32) and Hoosick Street (Route 7) from 8th Street in Troy to Hillcrest Avenue in the Town of Brunswick.

    Paving on the 1.8-mile stretch of Route 787 is scheduled to begin next week and continue through early October. Cohoes work will largely occur during weekday daytime hours using off-peak lane closures. Three Saturday daytime work sessions are also expected to occur. Both directions of Route 787 will remain open at all times, and all properties in the area will remain accessible for emergency vehicles.

    Sidewalk work on Hoosick Street in Troy is scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 14, with paving of this 1.6-mile stretch to follow. Work will continue into November. To minimize impacts to traffic, all milling and paving on Hoosick Street will occur between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Work on sidewalks may have isolated impacts to traffic between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Otherwise, all lanes on Hoosick Street will be open during daytime hours during NYSDOT’s work, and all properties in the area will remain accessible for emergency vehicles.

    Work on Hoosick Street will include installing sidewalk ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The City of Troy also is performing a project on Hoosick Street to adjust drainage gates and manhole covers ahead of NYSDOT’s pavement resurfacing.

    The contractor for this project is Rifenburg Construction, Inc., of Troy.

    Senator Neil Breslin said, “It is critical that we continue to maintain and improve upon our community’s infrastructure. By accelerating these road improvements we will ensure the safety of our motorists for the winter ahead." 

    New York State Senator Kathy Marchione, Chair of the Senate’s Local Government Committee, said, “Safe, well-maintained roads are vitally important for motorists and communities. The past brutal winter season wreaked havoc on our local roads and other critical infrastructure. These accelerated paving projects will help repair the damage and ensure better, safer roadways for motorists throughout the 43rd Senate District and across the Capital Region. I thank the Governor for moving forward with an accelerated pace for these important projects.”

    Assemblyman John McDonald said, “Roadways such as Hoosick Street and Route 787 in Cohoes are major thoroughfares connecting Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties. I am appreciative of the Governor and the New York State Department of Transportation for ensuring that critical roads, as part of the Capital Region’s transportation infrastructure, are maintained and repaired in a timely manner. I am pleased that these projects are underway before the start of another winter season.”

    Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “Maintaining roads in the Northeast is a challenge particularly with the harsh winter we experienced earlier this year. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for ensuring that Albany County roadways have the necessary funding to make sure we can keep those drivers safe who travel on them.”

    Cohoes Mayor George E. Primeau Sr. said, “I’d like to thank the Governor’s Office and members of NYSDOT for making this happen here in Cohoes. Over the years I have had a great working relationship with Sam Zhou from DOT (Region One) who is a true professional at his job. Having a new surface on Route 787 in Cohoes as it is the major gateway into our city is a big positive as new surface makes for safer travel.”

    Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia said, “As the second most traveled corridor in the Capital Region and a major gateway the Collar City, the repaving of Hoosick Street represents a significant infrastructure investment for the City of Troy. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the Department of Transportation for including Hoosick Street in the harsh winter weather paving program.”

  • Free Smoke Detectors

    Wednesday, 12 August 2015

    Red Cross, City of Troy to Offer Free Smoke Alarms

    Citywide fire preparedness campaign set to kick off in September

    Mayor Lou Rosamilia and the City of Troy are teaming up with the American Red Cross in an effort to reduce the potential for fire-related deaths and injuries across the city. The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, launched nationwide in October 2014, will kick off in Troy during National Preparedness Month this September. City officials, Red Cross volunteers and local community partners will work hand-in-hand throughout the month to deliver free smoke alarms and fire safety education to Troy residents.

    “A working smoke alarm can double a person’s chance of surviving a fire,” said David Kunzelman, Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross Eastern New York Region. “We want to make sure that every family in Troy knows this and has access to the kinds of fire safety resources the Red Cross can provide. We’re grateful to the City of Troy for their partnership in this lifesaving effort.”

    “Early warnings from safety devices like smoke alarms are critical in saving lives during a home fire emergency” said Mayor Lou Rosamilia. “The City of Troy is happy to partner with the American Red Cross for National Preparedness Month to allow our residents to take advantage of this free service.”

    Troy residents are encouraged to contact the Red Cross before September 1 to arrange a visit from the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign team during National Preparedness Month. Residents may call (518) 694-5121 to schedule an appointment, or visit www.redcross.org/eny/homefires to submit an online smoke alarm request form.

    The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign will officially launch in the City of Troy on Saturday, September 12. Red Cross and city officials will hold a formal kick-off event that morning at Troy’s Central Fire Station (details to be announced). Immediately following the campaign kick-off, Red Cross volunteers and local partners will spread out across the city to install free smoke alarms and provide other fire safety resources for Troy families.

    Large numbers of volunteers will be needed to expand the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign throughout the City of Troy. Register to volunteer at a single campaign event or on an ongoing basis at redcross.org/eny/homefires.

  • Start-Up NY

    Tuesday, 04 August 2015

    START-UP NY Opportunity Tour Showcases Innovation Across New York State
    The inaugural START-UP NY Opportunity Tour wrapped up in late June, after top ESD officials traversed all 10 regions of the Empire State to showcase many of the innovative businesses partnering with New York's colleges and universities in the first year since the launch of START-UP NY. And the program keeps growing.
    On July 23, Governor Cuomo announced 12 more businesses have joined, bringing program totals to 128 businesses, sponsored by 25 different colleges and universities. These companies have committed to creating more than 3,600 new jobs and investing approximately $180 million over the next five years in communities across the state.
    The Opportunity Tour kicked off in the Capital Region at Schenectady County Community College and ended at SUNY Cobleskill in the Mohawk Valley. The tour featured representatives from academic institutions, as well as executives from businesses ranging from craft beer, cultured leather and agri-tourism to data backup, biotechnology research and development, wastewater treatment and software development. 

    During discussions and tours of facilities, hosted at START-UP NY-Tax-Free Areas throughout the state, representatives from participating businesses and academia outlined the economic impact they are generating for New York, explained the mutually beneficial partnerships between campuses and companies, and discussed what START-UP NY has meant for their businesses and schools.

    For the full story, click here.

  • New York Ventures

    Tuesday, 04 August 2015

    Empire State Development has announced the launch of New York Ventures, a program dedicated to encouraging innovation and fueling economic growth in communities across the state. New York Ventures will oversee the State’s innovation investment funds, which provide financial capital to early-stage, technology-based businesses, and include the New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund, a $100 million multi-stage fund; the Innovate NY Fund, a $45 million seed-stage fund; and the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Investment Fund (MWBE), a $2 million seed-stage fund.

    ESD also confirmed in its Aug. 3 announcement that the NYS Innovation Venture Capital Fund has closed on financing for two New York-based companies: Cureatr, a mobile healthcare communications platform, and Unite US, a software platform that coordinates services for veteran and military families. For more details, click here

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently increased funding from $50 million to $100 million for the NYS Innovation Venture Capital Fund to identify and support entrepreneurs developing high-growth, technology-driven companies, and to spur job creation in communities throughout the state. The funding will also support the commercialization of technologies emerging from universities, accelerators, labs, and incubators across New York State, and will be matched by at least $200 million in private-sector investment capital. Funding recipients commit to either remaining in, or relocating to, New York State.

    NYSIVCF is being coordinated with the State’s existing business resources and innovation investments, including the Governor’s START-UP NY program, Innovation Hot Spots, the Regional Economic Development Councils, the Centers of Advanced Technology and Centers of Excellence networks and the SUNY 2020 Initiative.

    “When entrepreneurs have the necessary resources, drive, and talent to be successful, their accomplishments result in tangible economic benefits all across the Empire State,” said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “New York Ventures will organize the State’s innovation investment funds under one single roof, and will enable innovators to access the funding required to cultivate their product and turn big ideas into big businesses.”

  • Deadline For Consolidated Funding Applications For Round V Are Due By 4 p.m. Friday, July 31!

    Wednesday, 29 July 2015

    Up To $750 Million In Economic Development Resources Available For More Than 20 Funding Programs From 11 State Agencies

    Empire State Development (ESD) today reminded potential applicants that the deadline for Consolidated Funding Applications (CFA) for Round V of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative is this Friday, July 31 at 4 p.m. Applications to competitive programs that are still in progress after the 4 p.m. deadline will not be accepted – no exceptions.

    The CFA was established in 2011 to streamline the application process for State economic development resources; and serves as the single entry point for businesses, municipalities, not-for-profits and the public to access up to $750 million in economic development funding available this year. Once an applicant submits a CFA, the application is reviewed by the local Regional Council and ranked as part of its strategic planning process. The CFA and guidance materials are available at:

    The list of specific resources available in Round V, as well as application materials and the 2015 guidebook are available online at http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

    Available Economic Development Resources
    There are 11 state agencies participating in Round V, including Empire State Development; Canal Corporation; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Environmental Facilities Corporation; Homes and Community Renewal; Department of Labor; New York Power Authority (NYPA); Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Department of State; Department of Environmental Conservation, and Council on the Arts.

    Specific funding programs and amounts available through the CFA in 2015 are below:

    Direct Assistance to Business and Other Organizations: Up to $234.25 million
    Empire State Development (ESD)
    • Up to $150 million for ESD Grant Funds
    • Up to $70 million for Excelsior Jobs Program
    • Up to $1.25 million for the Innovation Hot Spots Program
    • Up to $1 million for ESD Grants for Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies
    • Up to $12 million for Market New York

    Community Development: Up to $56.9 million
    New York State Council on the Arts
    • Up to $5 million for Arts, Culture and Heritage Projects

    Homes and Community Renewal
    • Up to $25 million for New York State Community Development Block Grant Program
    • Up to $9.7 million for New York Main Street Program

    Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
    • Up to $16 million for Environmental Protection Fund Municipal Grants
    • Up to $1.2 million for the Recreational Trails Program

    Waterfront Revitalization: Up to $18 million
    Department of State
    • Up to $17 million for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program

    New York State Canal Corporation
    • Up to $1 million for the Canalway Grants Program

    Energy: Up to $50 million
    New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA)
    • Up for $50 million for Energy Efficiency Programs

    New York State Power Authority
    • Up to 141 MW for Recharge New York

    Environmental Improvements: Up to $51.85 million
    Department of Environmental Conservation
    • Up to $2 million for New York State DEC/EFC Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant
    • Up to $35 million for the Water Quality Improvement Projects (WQIP) Program

    Environmental Facilities Corporation
    • Up to $14.85 million for the Green Innovation Grant Program

    Sustainability Planning and Implementation: Up to $34 million
    New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
    • Up to $30 million for the Cleaner Greener Communities Phase II Implementation Grants

    Department of State
    • Up to $4 million for Local Government Efficiency Grants

    Education/Workforce Development: Up to $5 million
    Department of Labor
    • Up to $5 million for Workforce Development

    Low Cost Financing: Up to $300 million
    Empire State Development
    • Up to $300 million for Industrial Development Bond (IDB) Cap

    The CFA allows an applicant to access multiple funding sources from a number of existing programs through one comprehensive application, significantly simplifying the process for seeking state funding.

    Please visit https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/ to submit your application by Friday, July 31, 2015 at 4 p.m.

    Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI): 
    In January of this year, Governor Cuomo announced the Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) and the partnership between the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) to invest $1.5 billion in Upstate New York. The URI is an opportunity for the communities to address the economic challenges of their regions and work together in bringing jobs back Upstate. The URI is a separate competition and deadline from the CFA. The URI includes up to $500 million for three selected REDCs to implement over a five-year period. The following regions may submit one revitalization plan by October 5, 2015: Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier.

    Proposals should be submitted through the CFA by filling out the questions included in the “URI Intent to Propose” section of the CFA. Applicants must register a new application and log into the CFA to answer the questions online at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa. A URI Intent to Propose is not a substitute for a CFA for an ESD Capital Grant or other State agency resources.

    About the Regional Economic Development Councils 
    The Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After four rounds of the REDC process, nearly $3 billion has been awarded to more than 3,100 job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, supporting the creation or retention of more than 150,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

  • Governor Cuomo Announces More Than $350,000 Available to Help Low-Income Families and Veterans Access Healthy Foods

    Thursday, 16 July 2015

    Governor Cuomo announced that more than $350,000 is available to help low-income families and veterans participate in the FreshConnect Checks Program, which increases the purchasing power of food stamps used at participating farmers markets. More than 84,000 checks have already been issued to 152 sites across the state to help eligible New Yorkers access healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables. As the season progresses, additional checks will be issued reaching even more consumers than last year and providing a boost to the agriculture industry. FreshConnectLogo-FINAL

    The program has also been extended to operate year-round at participating farmers’ markets, providing the opportunity to use checks 12 months a year. A full list and map of participating venues can be found at http://freshconnect.ny.gov.

    “The FreshConnect Program allows New Yorkers in need to access locally grown fruits and vegetables, and this year we’re going above and beyond to help people eat healthy,” Governor Cuomo said. “By increasing the amount of funding available and adding year-round partners to the program, we are promoting healthier habits and making a difference in communities across the state.”

    The FreshConnect Checks program encourages recipients to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at participating farmers’ markets. The checks provide $2 incentive checks for every $5 in food stamps spent, increasing the purchasing power of SNAP consumers by 40 percent. In 2014, more than $3.2 million in SNAP sales occurred at farmers' markets throughout the state.

    Following the pilot program in 2014, $60,000 in FreshConnect Checks will again be available to Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members at New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs offices, on a first-come, first-served basis. Office locations are located on the FreshConnect website.

    The Division of Veterans' Affairs will also be bringing checks to a variety of outreach events throughout New York State. This is a new initiative this year to bring the checks directly to eligible recipients. Communities interested in having a State Veterans Counselor distribute FreshConnect checks at an outreach event are asked to call 518-474-6114. 

    In addition, $50,000 will develop and implement the Market Manager Certification Program, a new initiative of the FreshConnect Program that will launch this fall. The Farmers’ Market Federation of New York, SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell Cooperative Extension will partner to present an intensive, three-day training session in the coming months and develop online training modules for future market managers.

    State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The FreshConnect program first launched five years ago as part of the Governor’s efforts to invest in the state’s agriculture industry. Every year, the program has grown as the local food movement continues to grow. This year, we’re seeing an increased number of checks being distributed and an extended season to use them, which is benefiting both consumers looking for healthy alternatives and farmers expanding their reach into new markets.”

    New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs Director, Eric Hesse said, "The Division of Veterans' Affairs is proud to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets for the second consecutive year on this important initiative. Providing this benefit for Veterans and their families, and expanding the program this year to include active duty Servicemembers and their families is a way that New York State can thank these men and women for their service. We look forward to giving these checks to them at our offices and at outreach events around the state."

    Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “It's great news that the FreshConnect Checks Program has been extended year-round at some farmers markets. That means SNAP recipients can increase their benefits and have access to fresh produce all year." 

    Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “FreshConnect's healthy food options will enrich the lives of low-income families and veterans and the Market Manager Certification Program will improve the ability of farmers’ markets to promote participating vendors. Programs like FreshConnect and the Market Manager Certification help local farmers continue to grow their businesses in New York State.”

    Farmers’ Market Federation of New York Executive Director Diane Eggert said, “The FreshConnect Program, dedicated to the growth and support of farmers markets, is helping to establish professional management for farmers markets. The program will teach best practices for farmers’ market management, and tactics and techniques for expanding farmers markets. Certified managers will be in a position to leverage additional support for the market and ensure its overall success.”

    Director of the Office of Professional and Continuing Education at SUNY Cobleskill Anita Wright said, “We look forward to hosting the three-day training to provide farm market managers with the skills needed to manage and grow successful farmers’ markets in New York State. Knowledge gleaned from the campus-supported online farmers’ marketSchoharie Fresh will be used to inform a workshop presented by Dr. Jason Evans, a faculty member at SUNY Cobleskill. Faculty and students from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources will have an opportunity to participate in workshops which connect farm managers to industry experts and marketing professionals, accentuating SUNY Cobleskill’s mission of Real Life – Real Learning.”

    Agricultural Economic Development Specialist Laura Biasillo of the Broome County Cornell Cooperative Extension said, “This unprecedented professional development opportunity for farmers market managers across New York State will position them to both become more well equipped to address rules and regulations related to food safety, as well as become more professional in their operations, learn to partner more effectively in their community to drive farmer sales. This will decrease turnover and increase the sustainability of farmers markets across the state.”

    FreshConnect-funded projects aim to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and are encouraged to accept other nutrition incentives, such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Fruit & Vegetable Checks, Farmers' Market Nutrition Program checks, and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition checks.

  • Breathing Lights: Next Steps

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015


    The Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy (RACE) recently announced that Breathing Lights, the regional submission to the Bloomberg Philanthropies' Public Art Challenge, was selected to receive up to $1 million in funding. Breathing Lights was one of four national winners, and was selected from more than 230 submissions from cities across the United States.

    So what's next? The Breathing Lights installations in Albany, Schenectady and Troy will start in autumn 2016, but there's so much to do before then! In the coming months, RACE will work with its partners in the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy on projects including:

    • Community engagement sessions with nonprofit neighborhood partners;
    • Establishment of architecture/engineering teams for site selections and installations;
    • Final selection of Breathing Lights neighborhoods and sites;
    • Production of Breathing Lights lighting kits in coordination with RPI's Lighting Research Center;
    • Planning of community engagement events to run concurrently with the installation, including workshops on community development, the ins-and-outs of rehabilitating abandoned properties, and more.

    Stay up-to-date with Breathing Lights! Just click here to sign up for the Breathing Lights e-newsletter, and remember to visit BreathingLights.com often! You'll get a first look at the progress of the project, special events, and more. 


Page 3 of 6