The State of New York (NYS) has made the revitalization of downtown centers a cornerstone of its economic development policy. To aid in these efforts, nearly $200 million in funding is being made available by the NYS Department of State through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and the NY Forward (NYF) Programs.  

The overarching goals of the two programs are to revitalize downtowns and reinvigorate local/regional economies by creating a critical mass of vibrant downtown destinations in each of the States ten regions. Through the use of an innovative “plan-then-act” strategy, funding and in-kind resources will be made available for both strategic planning and implementation activities designed to achieve these goals.

While both the DRI and NYF programs share common goals, it is important to understand how they differ. Outlined below is a listing of key criteria associated with each program that applicants should be aware of.

Categories DRI NYF
Community Characteristics
Larger, walkable, dense geographical areas with amenities that serve the regional community. Smaller, walkable, less dense geographical areas with amenities that serve the immediate local community.
Multi-modal transportation, including mass transit. More vehicle dependent.
Employment centers for the regional economy Community centers that are service-oriented
Large urban center with more attractions spread out over large footprint Small town center with heritage, antique, cottage, agriculture and other niche-based tourism attractions
High density area with more than multiple commercial corridor Low-density area with one commercial corridor
Higher density buildings with opportunities for upper story housing Lower density buildings with opportunities for upper story housing
Project Characteristics
Larger private mixed-use projects. Smaller projects focused more on renovation and redevelopment rather than new construction.
Adaptive use Adaptive use
New construction projects that will create new spaces Projects that deal with vacancy rather than creation of new space
Projects that elevate urban and downtown qualities, enhancing the regional draw of the area Projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance feeling of small-town charm
Must demonstrate more shovel ready projects that have a high potential for leveraging capital investments. Must demonstrate multiple synergistic projects. Funding cannot be used for one singular project.

By taking the time to thoroughly review this-criteria, applicants will be able to draw clear distinctions between the two programs and which one best aligns with the needs/profile of their community. This in turn will put them in the best possible position to secure funding for the pursuit their revitalization goals in partnership with the State.