The village of Ellenville and its environs have been laden with economic miasma for some years, but older residents can recall a heyday when the prisons were full, the knife factory was booming, and televisions throughout the tri-state area trumpeted the joys that could be found at the Nevele. Setbacks notwithstanding, Ellenville has considerable potential: housing is affordable, and the village is located within a day’s drive of a third of the US and two-thirds of the Canadian populations. The possibility of that resort becoming a casino sparked a desire to revitalize this community in southern Ulster County, a movement that was given some traction in the form of the Ellenville Million.
County Executive Mike Hein announced in February 2015 that a million dollars would be poured into this area, and spent according to a plan developed by a committee of volunteers. After listening to pitches that focused largely on ways to increase tourism traffic to the area, and perhaps recognizing that any one of those well-considered ideas could use up the fund in its entirety, committee members have rolled out a strategy designed to get the best bang for those million bucks. The plan calls for some of the money to be used on targeted projects and marketing, with the remainder to be awarded to business owners for certain kinds of projects.
Much of the money will be used for infrastructure projects which, while not particularly visible, are designed to make the community more welcoming to business. Sewer and water upgrades are in the mix, as well as implementing high-speed broadband along the Route 209 corridor. Two key locations, the Shadowland Theater and Hunt Memorial Building, will benefit from the Ellenville Million directly; the money will pay for renovations and be used to leverage additional grant funding. Some of the Ellenville Million will be set aside to improve parks and trails.
Two funds will be available to private business owners, one for economic development and the other for improving facades on Main Street specifically. The economic development funds will hinge upon the number of jobs created and be capped at $50,000 per project, and will be administered by the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance. Eligible business owners are those “interested in relocating, expanding, or starting a new business in the Village of Ellenville or the Town of Wawarsing,” according to a statement released by the county executive. The Main Street facade program will match private money dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.
A tourism marketing campaign will promote the beautified Main Street and tout the many existing recreational and arts opportunities to residents of the greater New York City metropolitan area.
With an eye to the future, members of the Ellenville Million committee are partnering with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to both manage the existing funds, and to apply for grants to keep the economic development money flowing. It’s a mindset that shows a clear intention to put Ellenville’s days as an economic backwater squarely in the community’s rear-view mirror.