Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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National Grid Program Revitalizing Downtowns One Building at a Time

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: National Grid Program Revitalizing Downtowns One Building at a Time
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. -- United Helpers first opened its Ogdensburg doors in 1898.

More than 110 years later, the non-profit organization is helping elderly and disabled North Country residents like never before.

"Coming up with the funds is always very challenging, and those that this building serve really deserve a beautiful place where they can come and raise their spirits and enjoy really beneficial activities," Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa, said.

Thanks to help from a North Country partner many more people will soon enjoy those activities. Wednesday National Grid presented a $25,000 incentive to United Helpers to continue upgrading its Ford Street facility.

"Without National Grid's assistance and the city of Ogdensburg's assistance, we probably wouldn't have done this project yet," United Helpers CEO Stephen Knight said. "So it really has helped kickstart the phases of the renovations and projects that we have in mind for this building."

National Grid officials look to United Helpers as a prime example of its Main Street Revitalization Program. The organization took a vacant space downtown and brought people and economic development to the area."

"We want to incentivize the reuse of vacant buildings," National Grid Economic Development Program Manager Joe Russo said. "We have infrastructure that is running through those buildings that's not being used, so it's a way to encourage smart growth in the communities we serve."

Growth in local economies, and in the case of United Helpers, growth in Ogdensburg.

"It's allowing us to further consolidate and bring employees to this area, to this building, this spot so that it actually is bringing jobs that might be dispersed in other areas of the county back to Ogdensburg," Knight said.

Helping a century old organization provide brand new programs and services.

United Helpers is using the incentive money to create a therapeutic gym, meeting space, and an employee wellness center.

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