Local leaders fight effects of weak national economy
by Christian W. Peck
Niagara County Public Information Office
Top county leaders have made fighting the effects of the weak national economy a top priority locally, with events scheduled for this week focusing on aiding small businesses.
A pair of seminars set for Wednesday and Thursday offered by Niagara County and State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, aim to provide local small business owners access to various local and state programs.
"As you all know, Niagara County's government has been very concerned about the ongoing weakness in the national economy. Our small businesses are still under enormous pressure, and Washington isn't providing any relief," Niagara County Legislature Administration Committee Chairman Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, said on announcing the seminars. "Well, your county government and your local state representatives take this quite seriously."
The Niagara County Center for Economic Development will host a business workshop on Wednesday, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., at Lockport City Hall.
Maziarz's annual Small Business Development Seminar - which he cosponsors with Niagara County Community College's Small Business Development Center - will be held Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at NCCC's G Building cafeteria.
McNall said he had spoken with Niagara County Legislature Economic Development Committee Chairman Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, about the two forums over the weekend.
"The Center for Economic Development will cover a number of topics: options for business loans and financing, tax incentives, grants to hire new employees and train your workforce, and local properties that are for sale," McNall said. "They will also be announcing some good news: our Empower Niagara low-cost power program now has power available for qualifying businesses."
Empower Niagara, one of Updegrove's key programs as Economic Development chairman, has used Niagara County's unique role as host of the New York Power Authority's Niagara Power Project to provide low-cost hydropower to local businesses in exchange for job creation. To date, it has created more than 500 local jobs while spurring more than $10 million in investment."
"The center will also be discussing the new Opportunity Zone in Lockport, as well as providing demographic data about our area that may be of interest to some of our business owners," McNall added.
He said local leaders were glad that Maziarz's small business seminar, held the following day, will dovetail with the Center for Economic Development's offerings, providing a well-rounded package for local small businessmen and - women.
"Sen. Maziarz's Small Business Seminar is always chock-full of useful information and is a really great place for our entrepreneurs to do some real networking," McNall said. "One of the best parts is that Senator Maziarz also is bringing in some local experts with real-world experience to share their knowledge and expertise."
McNall reiterated that many local elected leaders share the concerns of their neighbors, who have been affected by three years of weak economic numbers.
"I know that a lot of people are anxious about the national economy, but our local leaders are doing what they can to help with that situation," McNall said. "I hope our local small businesspeople, and the people out there who are thinking about starting a business, take advantage of these two opportunities."
Registration is encouraged but not required. Individuals wishing to attend the Niagara County Center for Economic Development's Wednesday morning business workshop are encouraged to register by contacting the Center for Economic Development at 716-278-8760. Those wishing to attend Maziarz's annual Small Business Development Seminar are encouraged to register at 716-434-3815.