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Homes and Community Renewal

S.T.E.A.M. Garden Business Incubator Breaks Ground to Transform the Former St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Albany into Center for Innovation and Technology

Educational Opportunities, Work Space and Resources for Entrepreneurs Will Help Grow Businesses and Continue Revitalizing Central Avenue Corridor

June 27, 2018, Albany—New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Empire State Development, and the Central Avenue Business Improvement District today announced the groundbreaking of the S.T.E.A.M. Garden Business Incubator at 279 Central Avenue in Albany, the former St. Patrick’s Catholic School. The S.T.E.A.M. Garden is a collaborative effort to turn the vacant school into an innovative living lab focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math education and career paths. The facility will offer vital resources, including education options and work space, to help entrepreneurs and small startups succeed.

RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said, “The S.T.E.A.M Garden’s transformation of a vacant school into a laboratory where businesses can get their start and students can enhance their science, technology, engineering, art, and design skills, will help feed the city’s economic growth and continue the evolution of Albany’s Central Avenue neighborhood.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "By combining workforce development and collaborative workspaces with STEAM-based education and programming, this project will connect Capital Region residents, students and businesses, and help revitalize the Central Avenue corridor."

The S.T.E.A.M. Garden will provide affordable work spaces for startup entrepreneurs and small technology tenants, learning labs that offer workforce and entrepreneurial training sessions, and studio and gallery space. Programs will be targeted to high school aged individuals and up, with educational and training partnerships being planned through Hudson Valley Community College, the State University at Albany and Albany Law School.

The S.T.E.A.M. Garden will enhance connections between Central Avenue’s commercial assets, residential neighborhoods and nearby educational institutions. It will serve as a focal point of the Midtown Grid stretch of Central Avenue, a multi-cultural district in the heart of Albany that is home to a performing arts studio, an array of ethnic shops and restaurants, and numerous live music venues.

Anthony Capece, Executive Director of the Central Avenue Business Improvement District said, “The S.T.E.A.M. Garden is a crucial piece of revitalizing economic activity, generating jobs and creating a high quality of life along Central Avenue.  We want to thank all of our partners. The CDMA Inc. is pleased to be working with Empire State Development, the Office of Homes and Community Renewal, National Grid, Capitalize Albany, SHPO and HVCC, on this important project that will showcase the historic elements of St Patrick’s School, while making the space functional for future entrepreneurs.”

The nearly $1.8 million project was supported by $500,000 in New York Main Street funds from Homes and Community Renewal. The project was also awarded a $350,000 Empire State Development capital grant at the recommendation of the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC). The first work spaces are expected to open later this year.

CREDC co-chairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, University at Albany President, and Ruth Mahoney, KeyBank Market President, said, “This is exactly the kind of investment the Council seeks to make as part of its goal to build connections between the creative economy and high-tech industry across the Capital Region. Congratulations to the Central Avenue BID and all who are working to get the S.T.E.A.M. Garden ready to help entrepreneurs develop skills and bring their ideas to market.”

Senator Neil Breslin said, "This new and innovative S.T.E.A.M Garden Business Incubator at 279 Central Avenue will help entrepreneurs and small startups thrive right here in the Capital Region by enhancing connections between our commercial and cultural assets and our local educational institutions.  I applaud New York State Homes and Community Renewal along with Empire State Development for their continued investment in our region."

Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said, “I am very excited about the groundbreaking of the S.T.E.A.M. Garden Business Incubator on Central Avenue. Thanks to funding support through NYS Homes and Community Renewal the former St. Patrick’s Catholic School will be transformed into an incubator center for technology start-up companies and entrepreneurs.”

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “As the economy of the Capital Region continues to grow, it is smart investments from our State and local partners, and collaborations with higher education like this, that will help us build on our successes. Supporting our future small businesses and technology startups is critical and this incubator will allow us to capitalize on our already vibrant commercial corridor on Central Avenue while utilizing unused space.”

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “The S.T.E.A.M. Garden will expand training opportunities for our young people looking to enter these growing fields, as well as provide local entrepreneurs with a place to collaborate with one another. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the Central Avenue Business Improvement District for their commitment to workforce development and increasing science, technology, engineering, arts + design, and math career opportunities in New York’s Capital City.”

Capitalize Albany Corporation President Sarah Reginelli said, Capitalize Albany Corporation President Sarah Reginelli said, “Our region is full of talent. The S.T.E.A.M Garden provides an opportunity to capitalize on that talent by giving professionals the tools and space needed to coordinate efforts that will spur economic growth, amplify this bustling commercial district’s momentum — catalyze investment throughout the City of Albany’s neighborhoods and surrounding business districts.”

The S.T.E.A.M Garden was awarded a matching grant as part of the City of Albany’s Facade Improvement Program. Administered by Capitalize Albany Corporation, a program made possible by the Albany Community Development Agency and the City of Albany Capital Resource Corporation. The program provides matching grants to small businesses for exterior renovations.