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Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone

Annual Reports: 2009, 2008, 2007

Lead Entity: Sulllivan County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, New York

Demographics: Population - 85,855, Poverty Rate: 13.2%

Background: Sullivan County and the Town of Wawarsing (including the Village of Ellenville) located in the Southern tier of New York, was selected as one of the locations to put in place a pilot program to search for ways to revitalize rural areas under the REAP program. Sullivan County suffers from reduced employment opportunities resulting from the decline of college/entrant worker populations as well as geographic isolation.

Sullivan County unemployment rate is higher than the national average. It has lost over 1,370 jobs from 1994 to1997. From 1985 to 1995 the hospitality industry alone experienced over a 50 percent decrease in the number of jobs available. Sullivan County is in need of programs, activities and education efforts which support sustainable development and establish a mechanism to coordinate these efforts across the region.

The Town of Wawarsing economic base has declined significantly since the early 1980. In 1985, the Channel Master Corporation (the largest antenna manufacturer in the world) left the area, eliminating over 1,000 jobs. In the late 1980, several other manufacturers closed, including a broom/mop handle and nut bowl company, eliminating several hundred jobs. Additionally, since the early 1980, approximately 70 percent of hotels/hospitality-related business jobs have been lost (from 2000 to 600). This has also impacted the other service/support businesses substantially. The Town of Wawarsing is in need of activities, such as tax incentives, training programs and education efforts which support sustainable development and establish a mechanism for coordinating these efforts across the town to assist in retaining businesses and help existing businesses expand.

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. This REAP is 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

  • Agriculture - create and fund an Agricultural Economic Development Office, expand financing programs available for Agriculture related businesses and start-up, promote planning options to preserve farmland, promote legal options to preserve farmland, successful linking to appropriate markets will results in more profitable and numerous farms in the region.
  • Business Development - formation of new cooperatives and other marketing associations, identify, evaluate feasibility of, and develop facilities for regional value added product lines, establish business outreach programs to educate owners, encourage the development of downtown Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), expand the existing manufacturing under the proposed expansion project.
  • Infrastructure - increase the number of affordable, accessible rental units for the elderly and handicapped, improve education and job training opportunities by creating a seamless continuum of vocational and educational opportunities, regionalize and expand sewer districts among towns and villages to create greater efficiencies, to maximize use of federal and state funding and add capacity, prepare brochures, develop classes and workshops, revitalize SCORE and develop a list of other business owners and professionals who might be able to serve as business mentors, leadership training for Government and community leaders, develop informational brochures summarizing all capital and technical resources available, regionalize and expand underserved water districts.
  • Culture Preservation - enrich cultural resources by expanding financial support for the arts and culture, seek funding for professional staff and facilities that can sustain lively and engaging programming, preserve and interpret our heritage, and support the work of artists in all disciplines, enrich cultural resources by encouraging more engaged, and more diversified audiences in the REAP Zone, expand cultural resources by creating a partnership between arts and culture and other resources, to promote collective respect and positive interaction among all groups, while making current resources more accessible.
  • Youth - address the problems facing youth in order to break the cycle of poverty, financially and morally: drugs, violence, teen pregnancy, reduce high school drop-outs, and peer pressure, create business that provides jobs and recreation for youth as well as local community members.
  • Health - improve access to health care throughout the REAP Zone, improve public safety by ensuring that police, fire, and emergency medical services are housed strategically with adequate and modern equipment and staffing to meet the communities needs.

View a powerpoint presentation on the latest revitalization efforts that are happening on Sullivan County's Main Street (10,832 K, ppt)


Jennifer Mall, Junior Planner/Environmental Specialist


Sullivan County Division of Planning and Environmental Management
100 North Street
PO Box 5012

Monticello, NY 12701






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Last Modified:12/14/2011 
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