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Economic Development Councils And Path Through History

The Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) awards for 2014 were recently announced. These councils were created by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a conduit for the disbursement of state funds among 10 designated regions. Each region holds meetings to discuss the economic development proposals which have been submitted for their region. The approved proposals are then submitted for statewide consideration and the results were announced in December. Now that the 2014 awards have been announced, it’s time to consider what it all means for the history community.

This program differs from Path through History which has 11 regions. Unlike the REDC process, the Path through History program has no staff. Path through History has few if any public meetings. Path has no money the REDCs were awarded 709.2 million. This is why I believe that the history community should avail itself of the REDCs.

A search through the list of awards (available as PDFs) revealed the following:

In 2013, there were no awards for Path through History projects.

In 2014, there were 2 awards for Path through History projects from two different regions. They are listed below.

Long Island: Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Applicant: Casbah Pictures, Inc.
Project Title: Long Island History, Arts and Tourism Series
Description: Casbah Pictures Inc., will market the natural assets and historical institutions of Long    Island by producing a new series of heritage-driven videos to further support New York State’s Path Through History program.
Agency: ESD MNY
Amount: $18,050

Southern Tier: Broome County
Applicant: WSKG Public Media
Project Title: Path Through History Education Project
Description: WSKG Public Media will create 40 original one-minute history videos and 20
educational elements to promote heritage tourism, connect arts, culture and
historical institutions to residents of other New York communities and out of state travelers.
Agency: ESD MNY
Amount $100,000 and $76,000 for a related award

Both projects are media-related with no money for the history community itself. The Broome County project is spearheaded by Gerry Smith, the county historian and president of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, among other positions. He presented on this award at the New York State History Association conference last year at Marist College.

I list these two projects not to object or to criticize them, but to report that they are the only two awards in 2013 and 2014 that directly refer to the Path through History in their description and both involve money going to media companies and not the history community. This is consistent with the funding for the Path through History project which is based on increased advertising through ILoveNY and no money for the history community.

The granting agency for these two awards is Empire State Development Market New York (ESD MNY). It’s mission is defined as:

“The Market New York Grant program supports regionally-themed New York-focused projects that promote tourism destinations, attractions, special events and other travel related activities that help achieve the Regional Councils’ long term strategic goals for economic growth, which include attracting more visitors to New York State.”

To fulfill this mission, ESD MNY receives $10,000,000. Obviously these two Path through History awards comprise only a very small portion of the total pool of funds.

There is another award by ESD MNY which seems like a Path through History program even though it is not identified as such.

Southern Tier: Delaware, Herkimer, Otsego
Applicant: Hanford Mills Museum
Project Title: Exploring Rt 28 Kingston to Herkimer
Description: The Hanford Mills Museum will implement a multi-media marketing campaign, “More Than112 Miles of Smiles”, encouraging travelers to venture off the NYS Thruway and explore attractions on/near NYS Route 28 between Kingston & Herkimer. This tourism project will feature attractions within three different regions where tourists will find an exciting mix of culture, history, adventure, activities and natural beauty in rural communities along the Route.
Agency: ESD MNY
Amount: $37,500

This project could be called the “Route 28 Path through History” if the Path through History actually was interested in creating paths through history. Notice that the applicant is an historic site and not a media company although the project is media-based. The next step in this process would be to create an actual tour along Route 28 that could be marketed to bus tour operators. I am not sure how much of a Southern Tier path Route 28 really is, but putting the nomenclature aside, there is a real opportunity to create a weekend getaway tour.

In a previous post, I touted the legacy of New York State’s roads as a source for developing paths through history. That post followed one on the challenge to develop bus tours covering New York’s paths through history. This “Exploring Rt 28 Kingston to Herkimer” award represents one small step towards achieving that goal.

There are many people throughout the state eager to participate in creating precisely such paths through history. If only there was even a shred of leadership in the Path through History project, imagine what could be accomplished.


6 thoughts on “Economic Development Councils And Path Through History

  1. Actually LI Traditions did receive a REDC grant under the arts umbrella, to develop a series of programs on maritime culture, including tours, maritime education programs in local schools, and the beginning of an interpretive exhibit on Freeport’s maritime history and culture.

    1. That is correct. Notice that it is an arts award by the New York Council of Arts to promote tourism by supporting arts and cultural projects. As par of the series on RECD awards I will be examining the awards which are granted as well as those which are not. You have previewed an upcoming post. Thanks for writing.

  2. Economic development is very much needed to improve living conditions in NY as well initiatives to share its robust history. However, greater exploration of the goals of REDC’s must be sensitive to local community concerns and goals for the communities’ that effectively pay the taxes used for what might be considered corporate welfare.
    Wouldn’t it be interesting if money given to potential new businesses coming to areas with promises of jobs were actually were measured on consequential performance and held accountable?
    What if the tax dollars allocated for economic development actually went to improve infrastructure, ostensibly that would create jobs. Instead, Rockland County is pursuing a Legoland park. Part of the experience will be traversing on roads replete with pot holes.

    1. Thank you for your reply. While it is outside the mission of this blog post to comment on the feasibility an results of the awards under REDC for non-historical projects, your points are well-taken. In the series of posts which i am writing, I will address what awards were granted by the same entity that awarded the two Path though History grants and that includes Legoland. You have provided a preview of an upcoming post.

  3. Thank you Peter, you make a very good point. All the PTH projects/events should be apart of REDC’s grants and funding. They are all important in history and for every community.

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