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For Immediate Release:
November 19, 2020
Contact: 518-486-9844
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Blue Heron Bakery, funded with $63,500 DRI grant, Provides Bread for Local Restaurants and is Now Open to the Public

Governor Cuomo’s $10 Million DRI Investment in Penn Yan is Part of a Strategic Goal to Enrich the Community with Key Catalytic Projects

The New York State Department of State today announced the opening of Blue Heron Bakery, which was funded in part with a $63,500 grant from Empire State Development through Penn Yan’s $10 million DRI. The Blue Heron Bakery will use local grains to produce artisan breads for local restaurants and the general public, contributing to the cluster of food-related businesses downtown and integrating agritourism into Penn Yan’s appeal.

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo, Penn Yan’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative transformed this space into a new bakery that will serve the local restaurant industry, as well as help the Village’s economy with its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of the role that the Department of State has played in this project and look forward to the continued transformation of Penn Yan.”

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "Blue Heron Bakery is a great example of how Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative capitalizes on the unique strengths of New York communities in order to transform their economies. This collaborative business builds on the region’s agribusiness strengths and will continue to grow opportunities in Penn Yan and throughout the Finger Lakes.”

Located at 136 Water Street in Penn Yan’s downtown, the bakery is in a location that was previously underutilized. Improvements made to the space included finishing the interior walls and ceiling, renovating the entrance and adding signage, installing plumbing and HVAC infrastructure and constructing a new ADA compliant bathroom.

The DRI award for this project is $63,500 with a total project cost of $150,000. 

Senator Tom O'Mara said, “The opening of the Blue Heron Bakery is an exciting and important addition to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Penn Yan and the local economy.  It is exactly the type of investment we envisioned through the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The bakery's commitment to the local community, local agriculture and local tourism promises to be a perfect fit for building a stronger foundation for the future of Penn Yan.” 

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said, “We are fortunate that state investments through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will be making a great difference in several local communities across the region, including in the village of Penn Yan.  The Blue Heron Bakery is going to be an outstanding partner joining together with area farmers, downtown restaurants, and other local businesses to create a strong foundation of growth for village residents, workers, and taxpayers. It's a welcome addition to this community and we all look forward to the bakery's success."

Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar said, “It is wonderful to see the completion of another DRI project. We welcome Blue Heron Bakery.  A great enhancement to the attractiveness and vibrancy of downtown Penn Yan.”

Blue Heron Bakery Owners Catherine Graves and Todd Hatch said, “In these times that can feel quite bleak, you remember what makes it a privilege to call yourself a New Yorker. We support each other. As many doors shut, we were able to open ours to a bread bakery, and Penn Yan received us with open arms. Due to the grant from the DRI, and the inspiration of Sandy and Raymond Spencer, here we are, not a month old, hiring new employees from the community. We are beyond grateful.”

Penn Yan was named a DRI Round 3 winner. The Village of Penn Yan, a hub of business and recreational activity surrounded by bucolic farmland, leads the Finger Lakes Region in manufacturing job growth. Rich in history, the Village’s downtown is comprised of lovely tree-lined streets, intact historic buildings, and beautiful landscaping. While so many other main streets have lost out to strip mall developments and big box retailers, Penn Yan’s downtown is still the center of commerce for residents and visitors alike. However, a number of barriers, including the impact of recent extreme floods and lack of housing options, are suppressing Penn Yan’s full potential for leveraging private investment and increasing economic opportunity for all. The DRI planning effort in Penn Yan focused on overcoming these barriers and promoting sustained, year-round economic growth by concentrating on four areas:  leveraging the abundant natural assets, capitalizing on the growing craft food and beverage industry, using the local art scene as an economic engine, and capturing the intellectual capital that lives and vacations in the Village.

The strategic investments in Penn Yan highlight its historic mixed-use core, the Lake Street commercial corridor, a robust craft food and beverage industry, and the Keuka Marsh and Outlet in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. The Strategic Investment Plan for downtown Penn Yan is working closely with private partners and local assets to implement the other 14 projects awarded. The downtown Penn Yan Strategic Investment Plan is guiding the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment.

About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a major new initiative—the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).  Through the DRI, the Governor moved to aggressively accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment in all ten regions of the state.  The DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.

In the first four years of the DRI, the State has committed $400 million to invest in downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's ten Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation, and each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization. The DRI is chaired by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Communities receive support from private sector experts and a team of state agency staff led by the Department of State in close partnership with Empire State Development, and NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Other agencies are also involved in reviewing and implementing projects.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $8 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.