KINGSTON – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan outlined his vision for a “People-Centered Economic Recovery” in a rare address to the Ulster County Legislature. His plans call for the use of part of the $34.49 million in federal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan to aid small businesses, mental health services, housing, and other priorities.
“This is a moment where we must push ourselves and envision a future for our community where we don’t just return to the way things were before the pandemic, but instead seize this moment to take bold and transformative action,” said County Executive Pat Ryan. “That means not just spending the $34 million in federal relief funds we are receiving, but thoughtfully and smartly investing these funds in a way that will create lasting, generational impacts.”
Small Business and Economic Recovery: $6 Million
We must emerge from the pandemic focused on rebuilding a People-Centered Economy in Ulster County. Building on the “Ulster 2040” economic development plan, we will make strategic investments in priority growth sectors including our Food and Agriculture, Makers and Creators, Clean Energy and Environment, and Health and Wellness clusters. In addition, we will ignite growth and replace jobs lost during the pandemic at abandoned industrial and brownfield sites around the County, and especially the former IBM property on Enterprise Drive. We will also make major investments in building 21st century infrastructure like broadband. Using modern networking technology, Ulster County can deploy reliable high-speed Internet service from our own internet backbone via County-owned towers and structures.
Infrastructure, Trails, and Municipal Assistance: $6 Million
For too long our growth has been held back by a failure to invest in infrastructure at the County and municipal level. We will address this need by providing matching funds for infrastructure investments to assist economic development and housing projects, community service facilities such as health and child care, recreation, and public facilities that result in shared services and lower costs at the community level.
Mental Health and Addiction Services: $5 Million
Ulster County has critical gaps in our mental health and addiction recovery systems. We will prioritize funding to address shortcomings across the entire continuum of care, as identified by the newly formed Ulster County Behavioral Health Task Force. Priority needs include build-out of a community care hub with a stabilization center, detox services, and other outpatient mental health services.
Housing: $4 Million
Ulster County faces a severe housing crisis. These funds will be used to implement our comprehensive Housing Action Plan including investments to acquire properties for the purpose of creating and retaining housing and to accelerate the conversion of our old jail into senior and workforce housing.
Not-for-Profit and Community Programs: $3 Million
Our not-for-profit service organizations experienced disproportionate negative economic effects of the pandemic, while also stepping up to serve residents in need. These funds will be used to help not-for-profit organizations and the communities they serve to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Last month, County Executive Ryan and Ulster County Legislative Chairman Dave Donaldson announced the formation of the Ulster County Recovery and Resilience Working Group. The group has held numerous public listening sessions and gathered comments from the public to directly help inform investment priorities and anticipates a draft plan to be submitted to the Legislature for review within the coming weeks.