County Executive Pat Ryan delivered his second State of the County Address Tuesday, premiering live on Facebook. County Executive Ryan reflected on the resilience, compassion, and ingenuity our community has shown during the challenges of the past year and unveiled new initiatives that will drive the future of our County as we emerge from the pandemic, including investments in solidifying Ulster County’s position as a leader in the green economy and a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot program.
Universal Basic Income Pilot Program
“Amidst the pandemic’s devastation, we have our first opportunity in a generation to think about creative and innovative ways to help people in need,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said. “I’m very excited that in 2021 Ulster County will become one of the first counties in the country to undertake a large-scale universal basic income pilot program -- where we’ll provide much-needed economic relief directly to families throughout the county. By teaming up with one of the world’s leaders on UBI, we can start to better understand what $500 a month for an entire year will mean for a single parent, a recent SUNY Ulster graduate, or a member of our senior community.”
Ulster County will become one of the first counties in the country to undertake a large-scale universal basic income pilot program. This program will provide much-needed economic relief directly to families throughout the county. Through a partnership between Project Resilience, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, and Ulster Savings Bank, Ulster County will be providing 100 qualifying households with direct relief payments of $500 a month for an entire year, all funded through the generosity of community donations.
Residents looking to participate must have an annual income of $46,900 or below. To check your eligibility and apply for the program fill out a survey at ProjectResilienceUBI.com by March 15. Qualifying participants will be selected through a lottery system managed by the University of Pennsylvania.
A Green New Deal for Ulster County
“Rather than reverting back to our pre-pandemic economy, where far too many were already living paycheck-to-paycheck, we will lean into the future economy -- further accelerating our work to implement a Green New Deal here in Ulster County. We will prove that taking aggressive climate action is not only the morally right thing to do, but that it will position us as an economic leader in the State and across the nation,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “Today, we announce three major initiatives that will simultaneously protect our environment and boost our economy. These initiatives are part of a larger comprehensive, multi-pronged plan to further build on our Green New Deal in Ulster County efforts. We can not just tackle the challenges of today, we must look forward and lay the groundwork for a greener, more equitable, and more just society.”
Since day one, A Green New Deal For Ulster County has been one of County Executive Ryan’s top priorities. During this first week in office, he signed an Executive Order committing to an aggressive goal: transitioning our county operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Over the last 18 months, even in the midst of the pandemic, the County has made continued progress towards this goal -- putting battery-powered buses on the road, turning brownfields into solar fields, and training a new generation of workers in the expanding clean technology industry.
Ulster County Green Business Champions
The County will be launching a ground-breaking public-private partnership to more aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, in Ulster County, about 20% of these emissions come from the private sector. The County is launching the Ulster County Green Business Champions program to mobilize businesses to take climate action and make their business greener, and to recognize businesses who are already leading in these efforts. The program will provide direct support to local businesses in planning and implementing green investments -- such as improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy. It will also help business access financing and celebrate those who lead the way.
The County will begin efforts to dramatically accelerate local renewable energy generation through community solar production and distribution. Through the County’s new Solarize Ulster program, without having to install any solar panels or equipment at one’s home, any resident can essentially “plug in” to a nearby community solar array. This will allow residents to be part of making the Green New Deal a reality, and it will also lower their utility bills and save them money at a time when financial pressures are great on all residents.
Green Careers Academy
In 2019, Ulster County launched its Green Careers Academy in partnership with SUNY Ulster. This year, the County will significantly expand the Green Careers Academy, building a more robust pipeline to help put people back to work post-pandemic in the rapidly expanding green jobs sector. A growing need to build green infrastructure in the coming decade requires a highly-skilled workforce, which the Green Careers Academy will help to develop. The County will dramatically bolster the Green Careers Academy by bringing on a host of new partners including Ulster BOCES, Bard College, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Central Hudson, Citizens for Local Power, Habitat for Humanity, the Climate Reality Project, and several local labor unions to help train residents and help them secure good-paying green jobs. The Ulster County Career Center will help job seekers access training and job opportunities in a range of green fields.
These initiatives -- including Solarize Ulster, the Green Careers Academy, and the Green Business Champions program -- are all part of Ulster County’s broader Green New Deal efforts.
Throughout 2021, the County will continue to announce and launch additional Green New Deal initiatives. Looking ahead to Earth Day on April 22, County Executive Ryan will outline a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan to further build on the Green New Deal in Ulster County.
These programs are a part of County Executive Ryan’s Ulster 2040 Strategy. The primary goal of Ulster 2040 is to align and focus the County’s economic, workforce and community development investments over the next two decades toward a set of targeted focus sectors, and to identify the necessary steps to ensure that all County residents will benefit from a growing and changing economy.