Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the award of $1 million under the federal Thriving Communities Program which will aid communities in accessing federal funding and resources provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funds will be utilized by the New York State Department of Transportation to support five rural communities: the Village of Margaretville and neighboring Hamlet of Arkville in the Southern Tier; the Village of Dolgeville in the Mohawk Valley; the Town and Village of Massena in the North Country; Wyoming County in the Finger Lakes region; and the Town and Village of Alfred in Western New York.

“Thanks to the support of the Biden-Harris Administration, we are ensuring that communities all across New York have the opportunity to take advantage of funding through the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Governor Hochul said. “We recognize that rural communities face hurdles and barriers that are profoundly different from the state’s larger urban areas, and these funds will help provide them with the necessary support to confront these challenges head on and modernize their infrastructure.”

Now in the second year of the program, this funding comes to New York from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), which is funding $23.6 million through the Thriving Communities Program to support 112 communities nationwide, including 12 Tribal Nations.

New this year, USDOT added a Regional Pilot Program which allows for participants to provide opportunities to communities within their jurisdictions at a state or regional scale. Including the award to NYSDOT, six regional pilots were funded at approximately $1-2 million each that collectively are supporting 60 communities nationwide.

The five communities in New York State that will directly benefit from this funding were chosen based on their “community readiness” – they have articulated visions, plans in place, and/or been awarded other grants. The program provides two years of no-cost, intensive technical assistance to these communities to help them identify and develop grant applications for critical infrastructure projects.

NYSDOT, along with the New York State Department of State and ICF Incorporated, LLC, will address these rural communities’ unique needs and challenges, including a series of in-person technical assistance and capacity-building workshops, as well as community visits, fostering a sense of inclusion and shared purpose.

The efforts will be launched by convening a Capacity Building Team which brings a deep set of skills in technical assistance, coaching, and capacity building; experience working with disadvantaged communities; and subject matter expertise across a wide array of transportation planning, design, engineering, funding, and community development issues.

Through this program, NYSDOT aims to not only build community support but also create a statewide peer network that will meet communities “where they are” by providing opportunities to learn from similar communities. This includes utilizing “rural liaisons” for selected communities to provide targeted support. By working with these five communities with varying geography, demographics, and community character, NYSDOT will develop long-term skills and tools to better serve the diverse needs of the entire state.

NYSDOT has a long history of working with these municipalities on various capital and maintenance projects through the years, and will leverage many existing relationships to help them explore new opportunities for federal funding.