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MONTICELLO – The Sullivan-Wawarsing Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP), one of five special economic development zones in the United States and two in New York, has elected new officers for 2010.
REAP seeks to stimulate economic and community development by facilitating citizens’ efforts to design and implement their own community development strategies in such areas as infrastructure, recreation, housing, healthcare, cultural preservation, telecommunications, and youth activities.
Officers of the 18 member board of directors are:
· President – Glenn Pontier, Program Director, Sullivan Renaissance
· Vice-president – Heinrich Strauch, Executive Director, Liberty Community Development Corporation
· Secretary – Laura Quigley, Executive Director, Workforce Development Board of Sullivan, Inc.
· Treasurer – Terri Ward, President and CEO, Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development agency recently signed a four year extension of the Sullivan-Wawarsing REAP Zone until September 30, 2012. Congressman Maurice Hinchey originally secured these designations in 1999 in order to strengthen community development efforts and give the regions precedence in receiving federal grants and loans.
“The REAP Zone status has been an invaluable resource for the Town of Wawarsing, the Village of Ellenville and communities in Sullivan County, which have obtained millions of dollars in economic development funding they otherwise wouldn't have received,” Hinchey said. “While we've seen some important successes from this program over the past decade, I look forward to the program becoming even more effective now that we have a new administration committed to rural economic development and to providing additional federal assistance for grassroots efforts such as the REAP.”
The REAP Zone designation has resulted in both direct and indirect federal funding to grant applicants in the region and leveraged additional monies through state and private sources. Funding was directed toward projects that expanded educational opportunities, strengthened agricultural businesses, revitalized infrastructure and improved health care and housing.
Examples of REAP designation funding include: $1 million federal grant for the Village of Woodridge to replace its wastewater treatment plant and make other sewer system upgrades; $600,000 for a mobile dental clinic to provide residents in rural parts of the county with dental care; $446,232 federal grant for the Sullivan County BOCES to install videoconferencing equipment at the BOCES site and nine schools across five school districts; and $175,000 in federal funds for a new meat processing facility in Liberty, expected to move forward this year.
When formed, REAP established a collaborative, citizen-led effort to enhance economic development and enable local communities to develop and implement strategies to create long-term prosperity. The original co-chairs were Martin Handler, then Sullivan County BOCES superintendent and Joyce Salimeno of the Gersten-Hillman Agency. Former Ellenville mayor Ray Younger was vice-chair.