Downtown Riverhead during the Reflexions art installation. (Photo by Arthur Rast)

Over the last month, I have been traveling across Suffolk County, meeting with local leaders and government officials to award this year’s Suffolk County Jumpstart Program funding.

The program is part of a comprehensive economic development plan designed to encourage the development of regionally significant projects in and around Suffolk’s downtowns. Since 2013, the county has awarded more than $11 million in jumpstart funding. We know that our downtowns are the hearts of our community, and we need to do everything we can to ensure their vitality and vibrancy. 

If we are serious about keeping our region competitive, we need to invest in the types of projects that will attract the high-skill, high-knowledge workforce we need to grow our economy. And that’s just what this program does.

We are laser focused on building better downtowns, creating more affordable housing, and spurring economic prosperity in our communities that will lead to a better quality of life for all residents. Jumpstart funding provides just that and more, allowing our towns to improve upon blighted areas, invest in infrastructure, and create walkable-friendly downtowns.

Through Jumpstart we restored Argyle Falls in Babylon, expanded parking in Port Jefferson and Kings Park, created a more walkable downtown Lindenhurst, implemented bike network improvements in Riverhead and East Hampton, and improved Bay Shore’s Bay-Way.

We call this program Jumpstart for a reason. These projects are specifically designed to jolt our economy. And you might see a pattern to these projects. They focus mainly on pedestrian connectivity, revitalizing blighted commercial properties, and regional economic growth. These are all things we need to accomplish to not only keep our young residents here, but attract new residents.

All these projects are not being done in a vacuum. They are building upon the significant progress already made, complementing redevelopment projects. We are working to create opportunities for our residents to live, work,-and play without having to drive, and make it easier to get around our downtowns using public transit.

We will continue to work with our partners to create a brighter future for Suffolk. I look forward to the completion of all these projects, as they remain a gamechanger for not only the communities, but the county as a whole.

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