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Governor Cuomo Announces $10 Million for New Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn

Central NY Rising Initiative Spearheads New Tourism Destination Scheduled to Open in 2018

Equal Rights Heritage Center Will Celebrate Regional History Including the Efforts of New York’s Equal Rights Pioneers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $10 million has been awarded to the City of Auburn for a new Heritage Center to be built in the South Street National Register Historic District. Located directly across from Memorial City Hall and next to the William H. Seward House Museum, the center will emphasize New York State’s progressive history of promoting social and equal rights, while encouraging tourism at the region’s many attractions and destinations. The $10 million is funded and supported through the Governor’s Central NY Rising initiative, the regions comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.

“Sitting at the crossroads of Central New York and the Finger Lakes, Auburn has a played a unique role in New York State history as people and ideas traveled across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “The city was home to great New Yorkers like Harriet Tubman and William Seward who fought for equal rights, and whose homes are now landmarks. The new Equal Rights Heritage Center will pay tribute to their efforts, and the sacrifices of the many who sought equality, while encouraging travelers to visit all that this region has to offer.”

Civil Rights Heritage Center “click” on image to enlarge

“New York State has a proud history of progressive leadership and has been home to some of the nation’s most important figures in the fight for justice and equality,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today’s announcement. “The Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn will highlight not only local heroes like Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward, but all those whose vision and sacrifice helped secure the blessings of liberty for each and every American. As chair of the Women’s Suffrage Commission, I am especially pleased that we are finding new ways to honor our state’s legacy of supporting equal rights for all people.”

Plans for the center, to be located at 25 South Street in the City of Auburn, include a 7,500 square foot building that includes exhibition and community spaces, interactive maps and videos that will educate and highlight the role the State and New Yorkers have played in the struggle for women’s rights, abolition, civil rights and the more recent efforts for LGBTQ rights.

Civil Rights Heritage Center Exhibits

Today’s announcement also coincides with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Governor Cuomo has commissioned a 14-member NYS Women’s Suffrage Commission, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, to plan and execute statewide programs to commemorate the anniversary. The commission will continue through 2020, a century after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted all women in the United States the right to vote.

The Heritage Center will also house a Taste NY Market and will feature locally-sourced and produced food and beverages.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The new Equal Rights Heritage Center in downtown Auburn will promote regional tourism and will pay tribute to New York State’s legacy as a leader in the fight for equal rights.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “The Equal Rights Heritage Center is another example of the importance that New York State places on educating and recognizing its history and honoring those who served as pioneers before us so that we can become trailblazers for future generations. When we know where we come from we can understand where we need to go. Whether it is civil rights, women’s rights, human rights or equal rights for all, New York State has always enlightened the nation and thanks to Governor Cuomo the Equal Rights Heritage Center will serve as a place pay homage to those legacies that need to be remembered forever and be a catalyst for tourism throughout the region.”

Civil Rights Heritage Center Exhibits

City of Auburn Mayor Michael Quill said, “William Seward and Harriet Tubman were trailblazers in the 19th century fight for equal rights in America.  Their stories and the stories of all of New York State’s equal rights crusaders need to be told.  Auburn, NY is proud to partner with the Governor and host the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center and we believe it will be a hub for all visitors to explore and learn about the people of New York that have fought for the freedoms we experience today.  Governor Cuomo knows that tourism means business and this heritage tourism investment will provide a local and regional economic boost in that it will encourage travel to Auburn and to equal rights heritage sites throughout the region.”

Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the tourism industry throughout New York State, leading to historic levels of visitors and direct spending. In 2016, New York welcomed a record 239 million visitors who spent nearly $65 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the third straight year. Additionally, tourism remains the state’s fourth largest employer, supporting more than 914,000 jobs annually.

In addition to the $10 million Upstate Revitalization Grant through the Central NY Rising initiative for the construction and beautification of the Center, an $889,000 Department of State grant through the Local Water Revitalization Program is being made available as well as an additional $500,000 Department of Transportation grant for traffic mitigation and road construction surrounding the new center.

The Equal Rights Heritage Center will be operated through a partnership with the Cayuga County Office of Tourism and the Auburn Downtown Business Improvement District. The Center is expected to be completed next fall and will serve as the centerpiece for promotion and recognition for those destinations across New York State that honor and support equal rights. For a guide to New York State’s Equal Rights Destinations please click here.

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