Tioga County REAP Zone
Lead Entity:Tioga County Department of Economic Development & Planning, New York
Demographics: Population: 51,784, Poverty Rate: 9.32%
Background: experienced a substantial drop in
non-agricultural and manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 1993. Over 2,400 jobs were lost through reductions in force by IBM and
Department of Defense spending cutbacks. The
lack of adequate employment within the Tioga County requires up to 55 percent of the County workforce to commute outside the county.
At the same time, Tioga County has many assets and natural amenities that
contribute to its appeal and potential as a highly desirable and livable rural
community. The Susquehanna River running along the southern tier of the County
provides commercial, recreational, and educational opportunities to the
communities located on its banks. Tioga
agricultural based economy is experimenting with agri-clusters and agri-tourism
with some early signs of success; and large stands of privately held forests
provide local businesses an opportunity to develop a value-added wood product
industry. In addition to these attributes, Tioga County educational system is competitive and local
elected officials seem eager to capitalize on this track record to build
stronger ties between the school system and local communities it serves.
Purpose: The Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP), as a pilot program, is established
to mitigate the negative effects of a lack of employment opportunities and job
losses. REAP Zones are also established to create an environment for communities to find strategies to
solve their own problems. The
outcomes and lessons learned will help USDA to assist other communities
throughout rural America experiencing similar problems.
Strategic Plan Highlights
- Business Development: establish a business development loan fund and setup a formal
training program for small businesses, develop a master plan for the downtown
business district which will guide in its revitalization, develop new
retail/service opportunities, assist and promote development of locally
based plans and zoning in municipalities, create a Community Development
Circuit Rider program, complete aerial digital photography of the entire
county and link to the County GIS, renovate and develop the railroad depot
in Berkshire for use as Town Offices, Court Offices, and a Community Center,
and develop a Small Business Crossroads Study.
- Agriculture: expand agri-tourism
businesses and preserve agricultural and open space, hire a hydrologist to
develop a plan for watershed management in each of the County four major
watersheds, commission an independent study to determine the feasibility of
selective gravel mining in county waterways.
- Infrastructure: provide
infrastructure to the Lounsberry Industrial site, and market the site for
the greatest potential of job development, locate space in the Town of
Richford in which non-profit agencies can provide services for residents,
provide services and facilities in all areas of the County using the Family
Resource Center as a model, educate local officials about policies and laws
which can provide property tax relief and encourage improvements to existing
housing and the development of new housing, provide technical assistance to
individual municipalities in order to address various housing issues and
concerns, install public sewer and water systems, create locations for the
disposal of septic waste.
- Health: recruitment of new dental and eye care providers through
partnerships, build a new health care facility/pharmacy in the Town of
- Transportation: revise the 1991
transportation study which will form a basis for future transportation
improvement projects, research and investigate public transportation
systems, revise bus schedules to extend hours of regular fixed routes,
reduce congestion and improve traffic flow in conjunction with the
replacement of the Court Street Bridge.
- Youth: a need for licensed, convenient, affordable childcare to all
residents, inventory of all public and quasi-public space available in the
County with the potential to house youth activities, develop employment,
volunteer and mentoring programs for youths and teens particularly for the
summer months, develop a youth/teen/community center, open a childcare
facility for children 18 months to 5 years of age and expand the facility as
soon as funding is acquired.
- Housing: develop a consolidated plan, as outlined in HUD regulations, increase
low-income housing to include 10-1 and 8-2 bedroom apartments for families
and the elderly, establish financial assistance programs to stimulate
rehabilitation of substandard housing in distressed neighborhoods.
- Tourism/Cultural Preservation: develop a county-wide system of hiking and biking trails connecting
community, river, streams, state forest lands, and other attractions, work
with the state of New York to establish and construct a State Park in Tioga County, implement
Tioga County Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, develop Candor
Community Park, with active recreation facilities, and renovate the historic
buildings to develop a iving Artscenter,
establish a web server, online gallery, retail store, and information center
for the Arts.
Dirk Bierl, President Tioga REAP Zone
c/o Cornell Cooperative Extension - Tioga CO
56 Main St
Owego, NY 13827