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Tioga County REAP Zone

Annual Reports: 2009, 2008, 2007

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 Candor.
  • 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


Last Modified:11/20/2014 
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