The chairman of the Niagara County Legislature's Economic Development Committee was among the spectators at his own annual economic address this year.
In fact, Legislator Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, who chairs the economic development panel, delivered the hour-long speech without saying a word. That's because he recorded the economic address nearly a week ago - and economic development officials synced his message to a detailed slide show outlining an ambitious 10-point agenda for 2011 and beyond, producing a movie that they are making available online. People who "like" Niagara County on Facebook will be able to view Updegrove's address in its entirety.
After introducing his own movie, Updegrove left the podium normally used by speakers and returned to the seat he normally sits in as Majority Leader and watched, along with his legislative colleagues, as the detailed presentation offered up synopses of 2010's major accomplishments while setting the high-tech tone the county is emphasizing after successfully wooing major high-tech firms like Yahoo!, Edwards Vacuum, and, many hope, Verizon.
The 10 goals highlighted by Updegrove for 2011 were:
Returning to the high-tech theme, and emphasizing the importance of high-tech industry to Niagara County's future, Updegrove made clear that an aggressive effort to launch new high-tech efforts in Niagara County would be a centerpiece of economic strategy.
"The Center for Economic Development will encourage development of high-tech industries," Updegrove said. "The center will provide support to close the Verizon Data Center and Edwards Vacuum projects. The Center for Economic Development will work to capitalize on the critical mass building around the IT sector in Niagara County."
Edwards Vacuum produces high-tech vacuum systems for the semi-conductor, solar and LED industries. The company will consolidate its operations into a new building in the Town of Wheatfield, investing more than $3 million and creating 25 new jobs. The Verizon project involves construction of a new, $4.4 billion data center in the Town of Somerset, which will create 60 new high-paying information technology jobs.
Updegrove also directed that economic development officials will work to exploit gains in the green-technology sector by attracting more companies to Niagara County like Globe Metallurgical, Metaullics Systems and Ashland Advanced Materials.
Updegrove's address also returned to annual standards, like emphasizing the value of the Niagara Falls International Airport and membership in regional development bodies, including the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and the Cuomo administration's new Regional Economic Development Councils.
Updegrove closed his remarks with an optimistic note.
"As you can see from this report, the Niagara County Department of Economic Development and Niagara County Industrial Development Agency are working tirelessly to improve the economic climate in Niagara County," Updegrove told his colleagues. "We have concluded a very busy and productive year, but we are poised to make even greater strides in the coming year."