Otsego 2000 will present "Revitalize and Reinvest: Strengthening Regional Economies in Rural New York" from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, at the Upper Susquehanna Cultural Center in Milford.

The conference will explore ways communities can approach economic development by utilizing their existing resources and assets, whether they are local farms, historic main streets or scenic value.

The day's focus will be on economic development opportunities and strategies that maintain rural, historic and community character. Speakers will review the critical steps to developing a strong economic development strategy and will discuss finding sources of funding for projects and programs and how to implement them.

The conference will begin with registration at 9 a.m., including coffee and pastries. Martha H. Frey, executive director of Otsego 2000, will deliver a welcome and opening comments at 9:30.

The first speaker will be Duncan Hilchey of Cornell University's Community and Rural Development Institute, speaking on "Planting the Seeds for Economic Success."

Hilchey has worked with rural communities to help them remain unique and grow their success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. He will provide overviews of his work with rural communities and share success stories.

At 10:45 a.m., Kevin McLaughlin of the Empire State Development Corp. and Joe Rabito of the Office of Small Cities will present "Finding Funding: How State and Federally-funded Development Programs Are Helping Rural New York State Businesses and Communities."

McLaughlin and Rabito will discuss the grant programs and technical assistance available through their respective offices. The focus of the session will be on Smart Growth redevelopment strategies that utilize existing infrastructure and buildings or new development that is compatible with community character. The group will break for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

After lunch, Nancy Alexander of the state Department of Transportation's Scenic Byways Program will present "The Road You Want to Travel: How Scenic Byways Can Help Build Local Economies."

Alexander will review the designation process and provide an overview of funding opportunities through the National Scenic Byway Program. She will discuss how communities have used byway designation to foster economic development that benefits tourists and locals alike while enhancing and revitalizing community assets.

Frey will offer closing comments at 1:30 p.m.

There is a $30 fee for this conference, which includes lunch. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis through March 28 as space permits.

To register or for more information, call 547-8881, visit www.otsego2000.org or write to Otsego 2000, P.O. Box 1130, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

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