ALBANY, N.Y. — Standing at the Blake Annex, Albany’s rapidly growing nonprofit hub, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced he secured more than $22 million for the Capital Region through the bipartisan omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2022 to support cutting-edge research and dozens of community-led projects.
Schumer revealed three major, long-held community priorities that would benefit from the federal funding he has delivered.
These projects, which will now finally be able to come to fruition thanks to the senator, include: expanding the facilities at the Blake Annex to be home to a regional nonprofit hub, new high-tech research facilities at the University of Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and the creation of the Port of Albany South End Workforce Training Center.
The senator said that these projects will help revitalize Albany and the Capital Region, dedicating resources to projects that will bolster services and economic opportunities to the area’s most underserved neighborhoods and strengthening the region’s economic growth by investing in industries that are creating jobs.
“The over $22 million that I have secured in the bipartisan spending package means jobs, new economic opportunity, and progress on these long-desired, critical community projects.”
Schumer explained that he secured funding for the projects as a part of the recent bipartisan omnibus-spending package for Fiscal Year 2022. A detailed breakdown of the projects appears below:
• $1,075,000 to expand the Blake Annex the Capital Region’s growing nonprofit hub:
The Blake Annex is a unique example of social innovation, serving as the region’s primary nonprofit hub. The United Way of the Greater Capital Region has led this effort to bring together seventeen nonprofit organizations under one roof so that they can share overhead costs, which frees up more of their budget for their core missions of providing important services to the community. This hub will also help break down silos and encourage collaboration between the organizations.
“During the past two years, the nonprofit sector stepped up in a big way to answer the challenge of this pandemic,” United Way of the Greater Capital Region CEO Peter Grannon said. “Organizations found new ways to work together like never before. Now, the nonprofit sector is permanently changing as these collaborations are carrying over into year-round endeavors throughout our community. The Blake Annex takes things one-step further – a place where the caring, committed, and passionate people who power the Capital Region’s nonprofits work together every day.
“Thanks to this investment from Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, we’re seeing new partnerships starting to tackle the most difficult and deeply rooted challenges that will ultimately deliver the innovations and solutions for a stronger and more resilient Capital Region.”
• $1.5 million to create an Albany South End Workforce Training Center
The Port of Albany South End Workforce Training Center will support one of the most significant job-creating, renewable-energy economic development projects in the Capital Region’s history and ensure that these jobs stay local and go to the communities that are in need of new economic opportunities. Schumer explained that Albany’s South End has historically been one of the most economically challenged communities in the Capital Region, experiencing the lowest employment rate across Albany’s neighborhoods prior to the pandemic.
Schumer said that the South End Albany Workforce Training Center would address these local needs by connecting local residents to jobs and training opportunities in emerging industries like offshore wind, establishing a robust workforce pipeline that will attract and help scale companies in the Capital Region. The Workforce Training Center will be specifically designed to help prepare individuals in high school and 18 years or older by reducing barriers that too often hold back students and workers from enrolling and completing post-secondary education, such as expanding access to transportation, childcare, academic readiness, and affordable education.
This funding builds on the $29.5 million Senator Schumer delivered last year for the Port of Albany Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Project through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Grant program.
The project will be one of the first large-scale offshore wind tower manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and is expected to create an estimated 500 construction jobs and 550 direct and full-time, new manufacturing and support jobs, which will now be able to go to residents in Albany’s South End thanks to this training center.
“This earmark will help build the link between the offshore wind manufacturing planned at the Port of Albany and creating job opportunities in the south end of Albany and across all communities,” Port of Albany CEO Rich Hendrick said. “The Port of Albany is proud to work with the City of Albany and local and regional workforce development leaders to create a prepared and connected workforce for the offshore wind industry and its supply chain.
“This funding will go toward creating a new workforce development center with partners in economic and workforce development. Thank you again to Senator Schumer for his relentless support of this endeavor for the industry, the community and New York State.”
• $900,000 for UAlbany’s Extreme Weather Risk Prediction Pilot Program & $984,000 to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for their Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility:
The New York State Mesonet housed at the University at Albany is one of the leading, high-tech weather monitoring systems used by the National Weather Service (NWS) to predict weather patterns. Schumer said that this funding will back UAlbany’s testbed project to use lasers to explore boundary layers of the atmosphere. This has the potential to unlock huge leaps in weather forecasting and in understanding climate extremes.
Currently, boundary layers are measured twice daily at 3 locations in New York State with weather balloons but this project will make measurements every five minutes from 17 New York State locations. This information is also critical for understanding weather to respond to the ongoing challenges of climate change. New York has been hit hard by many extreme weather events in recent years, including Tropical Storms Irene and Lee which had a devastating effect on the Capital Region.
This effort will help the NWS better use this valuable data to improve forecasting and provide earlier warnings across New York.
The funding for RPI’s project will bring state-of-the-art biotech equipment to the Capital Region to bolster cutting-edge research in a broad array of areas, including treatment discovery for Alzheimer’s disease, Coronavirus, Diabetes, and Osteoporosis. This will also allow biotech companies in the Capital Region to be able to use RPI’s advanced facility to conduct research that could result in new and improved processes and products that people use every day, such as personal care products, materials for electronics, pharmaceuticals, and new therapies for diseases.
Schumer said that the RPI facility will strengthen the Capital Region’s biotech workforce, ensuring New York continues to be a growing hub for critical innovation.
“Federal investments in scientific research like the VERTEX project are critical to protecting our communities,” University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez added. “This grant will help UAlbany researchers gain crucial insights on our lower atmosphere and improve forecasting and early warning for potentially life-threatening storms. With the increasingly frequent danger of extreme weather associated with climate change, this work has never been more vital.
“We’re grateful to Sen. Schumer for his leadership, his steadfast commitment to higher education and for recognizing and advocating for the importance of this research to all New Yorkers.”
In addition to the above projects, Schumer also highlighted the below community-led initiatives that he also secured funding for:
• $500,000 to support the stabilization and restoration of Fort Ticonderoga’s iconic and historic walls.
• $750,000 for construction of Capital Roots’ Urban Grow Center Expansion.
• $439,000 for the City of Glens Falls to undertake a number of structural renovations and energy upgrades to its historic City Hall building.
• $3,000,000 for the City of Cohoes towards the procurement and installation of floating solar panels on the secured 10-acre Cohoes water reservoir.
• $829,594 to provide broadband for unserved homes and businesses in the Towns of Ghent, Canaan, New Lebanon, and Austerlitz.
• $205,000 for Warren County Employment & Training Administration to aid in the recruitment, training, and opening of child care provider businesses in Warren & Saratoga counties.
• $950,000 to develop the former General Electric De-Watering Facility in Fort Edward into the Canalside Energy Park.
• $750,000 to expand Schenectady Family Health Services, Inc’s Hometown Health Center to increase access to high quality and affordable dental care for underserved children and adults.
• $1,687,500 for the Town of Westerlo to extend its existing fiber routes to make fiber-delivered internet fast, reliable, and available to all residents of and businesses in town.
• $1,000,000 for the University at Albany to purchase a Next Generation RNA Technology Package, which will advance critical research into genetic disease variations like the SARS-CoV-2 variants.
• $3,000,000 for the City of Amsterdam to design and engineer a pedestrian connector and multimodal transport station, increasing mobility and ease of access for residents.
• $500,000 for Hunter Foundation Inc. in Tannersville towards the development of an incubator kitchen, the Food & Agriculture Culinary Hub.
• $500,000 for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to expand its Sheriff Homeless Improvement Program (SHIP) from the current size of 50 beds to a 100-bed facility.
• $2,000,000 for the City of Amsterdam to rehabilitate 149 East Main Street for use as a community center to be operated by the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area in partnership with Centro Civico.
• $800,000 for the City of Mechanicville to repair and replace several miles of old and undersized water mains.
• $960,000 for a capital improvement project at the Town of Rotterdam’s wastewater treatment plant.