Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point to announce $211,650 in tourism grants to two dozen Rockland County nonprofit organizations. The Penguin Theatre is a beautiful example of what our county has to offer to those coming to visit.
With only 108 seats everyone attending a performance is no more than 30 feet away from the action which takes place in a restored barn. I highly recommend taking in a show there if you ever have a chance. Over 9,000 people attended performances there last year, many of whom had never before visited Rockland. We are rewarding that success with a $15,000 grant to continue their advertising which is drawing visitors from outside the county.
This announcement was yet another step towards continuing to improve and enrich life in our community. When I first took office in January of 2014, I vowed to find new and innovative ways to bring money into Rockland County. 5 years later and we have done just that. Receiving more in economic development grant money and small business loans than ever before. What does that mean? These are dollars that local taxpayers do not have to cough up.
None of this would have been possible without the work of Lucy Redzeposki, our Director of Tourism and Economic Growth; I thank her for her efforts to raise Rockland’s profile regionally and around the world.
Other great organizations receiving tourism grant funding are Rockland Center for the Arts, Garner Arts Center, Edward Hopper House, Haverstraw River Arts, the Historical Society of Rockland County, the Rockland County Pride Center, the Rockland Bergen Music Festival and so many others.
Funding is also being awarded to Visit Nyack and the Chambers of Commerce in Suffern and Nanuet. Groups that work to bring people into the community. It’s not just about enriching our community with festivals, theater and art. It’s about bringing visitors and the money they spend into Rockland.
Contrary to the false narrative being peddled by a few rouge Legislators funding for these local community organizations has actually increased under my administration. These organizations are now funded on a contractual basis, making their budgeting process easier as they can now plan for how much money they will receive year over year.
We want people to come here, spend the day in one of our downtowns, go to an arts festival and then come here for a theater performance. While they are here, they can eat at our restaurants, shop in our stores and find other ways to spend money. Money that will fuel the bright future of this county.
If not for tourism generated sales and local taxes the average household in Rockland would have to pay an additional $555 in yearly taxes to maintain current services. That is a lot of money saved thanks to the efforts of Lucy Redzeposki.
The tourism funds we announced came from a combination of county money and from the statewide I Love New York program. These are competitive grants; a set of performance expectations are attached to every dollar given to these nonprofits.
We have every confidence that the organizations receiving this funding will use it to bring tourists here to see all that Rockland has to offer. Our music, theater, art, riverfronts and downtowns will keep them coming back.
That is the way forward. That is the mission of government, to create an environment where businesses thrive and jobs are created. Congratulations to these organizations that have won these awards, economic drivers all, and we know you will do us proud with your efforts continuing to do your part to put Rockland on the map.