A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Positive News Briefs & Opportunities

Research shows that we start to become what we focus on in life. Check out the wonderful things our neighbors are up to.

Sign Up for Seedlings Now!

    Planning your gardens already/ Maybe even started some seedlings in that sunny window upstairs? It’s time for the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County Seedling Sale, with all proceeds going to fund the sponsoring program. Items available this year include peach trees, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, as well as asparagus and rhubarb plants, plus gooseberries for the first time. There will also be a native plant bundle including five flowering native shrubs. The seedlings are “bare root,” not balled or potted, and supplies are limited so get your orders in as soon as you can before the March 16 deadline. Pick-up dates will be  April 26 and 27 at the CCEUC office, 232 Plaza Road, Hannaford Plaza, Kingston. Visit tinyurl.com/2018-Seedling-Sale or call Dona at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 for more information.

State Loans for Small Agribusiness 

    The New York Job Development Authority has launched an Agriculture Loan Fund Program to address and help alleviate the economic barriers faced by many New York State small agribusiness owners, with $10 million in funding to be distributed as low interest loans by eight third party lenders statewide, who will loan between $50,000 and $200,000 to eligible businesses including, but are not limited to, value-added processors, food distribution companies, food aggregators, craft beverage producers, and Food Hub participants. The projects may include the acquisition of and/or improvements to land or buildings, the purchase of machinery and equipment, and working capital used in support of the New York State agricultural industry. The main lender in our area is the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation. To find out more about the JDA Agriculture Loan Program, call 212-803-3219.

Retrofit Program Aims for Lesser Carbon Impact

    The state has launched RetrofitNY, a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S. intended to create standardized, scalable energy-efficient retrofit solutions that can be replicated throughout the entire housing industry. Under the $30 million program funded over 10 years and made available through the State’s Clean Energy Fund, the state is working to bring a substantial portion of New York’s affordable housing units to or near net-zero energy over the next decade. Net-zero energy buildings consume no more energy, on an annual basis, than they produce onsite through renewable energy technologies like solar panels or other distributed energy resources. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has issued a Request for Proposals seeking experienced design/construction teams to develop very high performance retrofit solutions for up to six multifamily affordable housing buildings across the state. Design solutions will be required to exclude the use of fossil fuels onsite, demonstrate they are cost-effective, be standardized, scalable and aesthetically pleasing. The retrofit solutions developed through this initiative will then serve as a national model for cost-effective and highly energy-efficient multifamily housing renovations. Six awards of $75,000 will be given to qualified solution-provider teams to design net-zero (or near net-zero) energy retrofits for six selected prototype buildings. To be qualified, buildings must be affordable housing multifamily buildings no taller than seven stories for which a substantial rehabilitation or comparable work is already being planned within the next 12-24 months. Buildings for which a retrofit design is completed may also be eligible for project funding through a separate solicitation NYSERDA plans to issue later this year for the construction and implementation of the prototype retrofits. For more information, visit nyserda.ny.gov.

State Doubles Its Bridge Funding

    The state recently announced the availability of $250 million in enhanced assistance for local governments to rehabilitate and replace bridges and culverts statewide. More than 125 bridges and culverts in 96 communities are being rehabilitated or replaced with the initial $200 million in funding this latest amount augments. Awards will be made through a competitive process and will support all phases of project development, including design, right-of-way acquisition and construction, with evaluations based on the structural condition of a bridge or culvert and its resiliency and significance, traffic volumes, detour considerations, the number and types of businesses served and the overall impact on commerce. Applications will be accepted through April 13 for culverts, and April 27 for bridges. As for considerations about what exactly is needed for such infrastructure, moving forward, we’re preparing a story for future reading.

Are You a Time Traveling Artist? 

    The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz invites artists working in all media to submit proposals for the forthcoming exhibition, “Time Travelers: Hudson Valley Artists 2018,” the 12th installment of The Dorsky’s Hudson Valley Artists series, exhibiting work by regional artists set to run June 16 through November 11. Artists are invited to submit their work for consideration by March 19. What’s the idea behind that intriguing title? Consider such recent mind-blowers as physicists talking about closing loops in spacetime that will objects to return to their own pasts, contemporary philosophers taking the concept of relativity into the new idea of eternalism—then consider how all this has been done already in art. Consider “Time Travelers” a challenge as much as an exhibition.    It’s open to all emerging and mid-career artists with a permanent mailing address and active art practice in the region, and who have not had a major one-person museum exhibition and are not currently represented by a commercial gallery. Students are not eligible. Link to: https://dorskymuseum.submittable.com/submit/102200/time-travelers.  

Transcendentalism, India, & Us

    The decades-old Catskills spiritual center Matagiri and the Emerson Resort & Spa will host the second in a series of lectures on March 11 entitled “Emerson and Thoreau: The Transcendentalists and India,” presented by Richard Davis, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Bard College. The talk will explore some of the early connections between Indian religion and American culture, and by inference our views of nature as born from artist’s experiences in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Things start at 4pm; the Emerson is on Route 28 outside of Phoenicia. Visit emersonresort.com or call (845) 688-2828, ext. 7602, for reservations.

Village Elections: The Heart of a Republic

    Village elections take place March 20 throughout the state. This used to be a bedrock of localized democracy in action; and still is in some of the more rural reaches of the greater area. But especially in Ulster County, the numbers of municipalities actually holding village elections during the mud season has shrunk to one—in Saugerties.New Paltz goes to the polls the first Tuesday in May and Ellenville, mulling dissolution more seriously than ever this year, shifted its election day to the same November dates as town, county, state and national elections in November. Dutchess County, meanwhile, is chockablock with elections in March; among the villages voting this year are Fishkill, Millbrook, Millerton, Pawling, Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Wappingers Falls. Issues and candidates (as well as localized parties) are many, and best read about in one’s hyperlocal news. Suffice it to say it’s all a great antidote to our obsessions with national, and occasionally state news. Its’s real American democracy at its base form; our republic in its purest form. As fpor Governor Cuomo’s call for a special April 24 election for certain open legislative seats, including Pete Lopez’s Assembly district that includes Saugerties and Greene County, that’s another beast altogether.

Small Business Opportunities Everywhere!

    The Mid-Hudson Small Business Development Center is in the midst of a very busy season of classes, lectures and events. February events included treating one’s art in a business fashion. For March, there will be a Cybersecurity For Your Small Business exercise training on March 7; a Creating A Successful Farmer’s Market Booth seminar on March 20; a class on Taking Your High Tech Product To Market on March 29; and a Social Media Marketing For Small Business workshop on April 4. All will be at the Kingston Center at SUNY Ulster, 94 Mary’s Avenue in Kingston at various times and prices, all reasonable. In addition, a successful seminar on How To Start Your Own Business will be duplicated on April 18 at Ellenville High School. To Register, call (845) 339-2025n or visit SUNYUlster.edu/continuing_education.

Letting Students in On Their School Budgeting?

    What’s cutting edge in education these days? How about Participatory Budgeting (PB) in all public high schools in New York City! In his State of the City address this winter, Mayor de Blasio emphasized, “We’ve got to prove to our young people that they’ve got the power to change the world around them. When people feel empowered they participate. When they can see the impact they’re making they come back for more. So starting next school year public school students will learn how to stay civically engaged and to fight for the future they believe in with our Civics for All initiative.” To grow this work from promise to action, the city has started hosting conference sessions on how to engage, support, and empower youth leadership in reimagining democracy. The PB movement has furthermore grown elsewhere across the country and hemisphere, including action in all forms of community. Check it out at participatorybudgeting.org.

A New Veggie Van for the Kingston Area

    YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County has been awarded $10,000 as part of the 4th Annual Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food from The Conservation Fund and CSX Transportation. The grant will be used to purchase a veggie van, allowing increased distribution of fresh, locally grown food, especially in neighborhoods that aren’t close to grocery stores, corner stores, or farmers markets. The Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food supports local food distribution by improving the ability for organizations across the country to store, package, transport and ultimately support community access to fresh, healthy food. This year’s funding will allow 21 recipient organizations nationwide to collectively serve an additional 225,000 families with 6.3 million meals. Congrats, YMCA Farm Project!

State Pushes Greater Workforce Diversity 

    A proposed expansion of its push to expand Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise activity beyond certain state-funded contracts to all such activity, the better to leverage MWBE economics from NYC to Buffalo, is currently making its way through Albany politics. Meanwhile, the state recently announced a regional Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises opportunities expo series designed to connect MWBEs with New York agencies, expert resources, information on state projects and tools to access state opportunities. Sponsored by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development, the scheduled workshops and panel discussions include an MWBE Boot Camp linking local start-ups to Small Business Development Centers, Procurement & Technical Assistance Centers and the state’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, as well as information about state-sponsored financial and technical assistance programs, including the New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program and the Bridge to Success Loan Program. For the Hudson Valley, there will be workshops on March 8 at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, as well as on March 16 at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Middletown Campus, 60 Prospect Avenue in Middletown.

Mid-Hudson Highlights for the Proposed NYS Budget 

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced Mid-Hudson Valley regional highlights of the FY 2019 Executive Budget. In addition to talk of tax cuts and the Excelsior Scholarship program discussed in our last issue, the spending request proposes a regional increase in school aid of $79.8 million, $12 million for new higher education infrastructure at SUNY, accessibility to the state’s $300 million Environmental Protection Fund Investment, a new $10 million for the Belleayre Ski Resort, support of a $28 million sake brewery in Hyde Park, and a variety of other highlights that seem to be statewide efforts, along with further promises for funding of a Stewart Airport upgrade. We’ll be keeping you in touch with the numbers as they get more specific, start to change, and then get announced in numerous ways, and press releases, over the coming months.

Time for the LGBTQ Center’s Spring Gala

    The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center in Kingston is hosting its annual Spring Gala on March 10 at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie, with the fabulous Michael Urie, star of stage and television who recently appeared in the revival of Torch Song, as guest of honor. The special fundraising angle this year will be tied to the recent groundbreaking work of the LGBTQ Community for Racial Justice, who work to undo mass incarceration and institutional racism. The Gala is known throughout the region as a wonderful evening of celebration, good company and community with cocktails, dinner, silent and live auctions, awards and plenty of dancing. Funds raised at the Gala go directly to the Center’s programs and services, support for LGBTQ youth, and school safety initiatives for all students, among other programs. The event runs from 6 to 11pm at the Grandview, which is located at 176 Rinaldi Boulevard in Poughkeepsie, overlooking the river. Visit lgbtqcenter.org for further information.

Creativity & Meaning for Business Start-ups!

    The greater regional business community has had March 5 on its calendars all winter as the date to come out for a special ribbon cutting at the new Cornell Creative Business Center in Midtown Kingston. Located at 139 Cornell Street, also known as The Arc of Ulster-Greene’s Pecora Center, the new business center has been designed tocultivate a synergy between businesses, artists and people with disabilities working creatively together and empowering one another in order to achieve their goals and reach their true potential. It comes in answer to the state’s cuts for work centers that employed people with disabilities back in 2011, which also closed the 20,000 sq. ft. building on Cornell and put 300 people with disabilities out of work. After reviewing many different employment sectors, The Arc of Ulster-Greene decided to create an artisan food production work center within Cornell Creative, and now the growing number of companies that are currently partnering with the Cornell Creative Business Center will receive reduced operating costs in return for hiring individuals with a disability. The Center currently provides 11 artisan work sites which include a shared shipping and receiving warehouse and will allow businesses to have their employees produce, package, label and ship their products. Among those already at the Center are Grok Bites, Rams Valley, Edenesque and the Hemp Home Store. The Arc of Ulster-Greene applied and received generous grants from both the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency ($20,000) and New York State CFA ($200,000) for economic developmental funding towards this project. Talk about start-ups with deep meaning!

Lively Talks by Our Master Gardeners

    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County is hosting a series of great talks for anyone looking to be gardening this spring, either on rural farms of various sizes, or in more urban settings. On March 15 master gardener Cecily Frazier will give a talk on “What’s Going on with the Bugs?” that will include identification of new invasive pests and a focus on the decline of insect populations and related reduction in the number of birds. Then on March 29 John McCormick will discuss “Garden Friends and Foes,” this time looking at good and bad insects and what one can do about them. Walk-ins are welcome, but space is limited. For more information, or to be sent a brochure/registration form, contact Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or email dm282@cornell.edu.

Community Dinner!

On Friday, February 23, Hudson Valley Current’s Satisfy Hunger project helped host and run a Winter Community Dinner in tandem with Family of Woodstock, the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, UlsterCorps, Bread Alone and a number of other local nonprofits that not only broke the seasonal blues for many, but drew hundreds out to discuss the various ways in which we can all work together to help those in need of better access to food, and satisfy the region’s unnecessary hunger amidst so much abundance. Visit gofundme.com/satisfyhunger for more information.