First-term Wheatfield legislator committed to continuing county's successful job-creation strategy
by Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
Legislator Kathryn Lance, a second-year lawmaker whose district includes commercial and industrial areas off Niagara Falls Boulevard, will be tapped to chair the Niagara County Legislature's economic development committee, Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, announced Monday.
Updegrove made the announcement after conferring with Lance, R-Wheatfield, Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, and Commissioner of Economic Development Sam Ferraro. The announcement also ends Updegrove's tenure as chairman of the economic development committee.
"Legislator Lance is the best choice for this critical responsibility," Updegrove stated. "She has served with distinction as a member of this committee, and in that time she has been a leading voice on efforts like the county's commitment to protecting the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and expanding our Empower Niagara program to create good jobs here in Western New York. I'm proud of what we accomplished at the economic development committee while I served there, but I'm equally proud to entrust this responsibility to someone as capable and committed as Kathryn Lance."
Lance, who is a reading instructor in the Buffalo Public Schools system, represents residents of southern Wheatfield and northwest North Tonawanda in county government. A mother of two, she and her husband, Roger, live in Wheatfield.
Following her 2011 election to the Niagara County Legislature, Lance was appointed to the economic development, administration and community services committees. Within days of being sworn in as a legislator, Lance introduced the first of several resolutions that sought to protect the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from federal defense cuts. Lance also worked closely with Ferraro and economic development personnel when they prepared a detailed study that concluded the Niagara Falls air base had a $200 million annual impact on Western New York.
"I intend to continue the successful strategies Niagara County has employed in recent years, including a diligent Canadian marketing campaign, strong efforts directed at protecting and restoring our environment, aggressive marketing of the Niagara Falls International Airport, and ongoing efforts to protect the Niagara Falls air base," Lance said after being tapped by Updegrove. "I also fully anticipate continuing to rely on Niagara County's plentiful hydropower as a tool to draw businesses to our area. The Empower Niagara program has retained or created more than 550 jobs to date, and generated $18 million in private investment in Niagara County. It is a critical part of our economic development strategy."
Lance received a detailed briefing from Ferraro about existing programs and initiatives launched by the Niagara County Center for Economic Development as well as ongoing job-creating initiatives of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, which works closely with the Center for Economic Development in crafting economic policy.
"Job creation must remain the top economic development priority of Niagara County," Lance said. "To be clear: Jobs are not created by government, but government can adopt policies that create an environment that is conducive to business expansion and job creation. That is what we have done, and that is what we will continue to do."
Lance pointed to the Center for Economic Development's "Niagara County Business Growth and Retention Program" as an example of government fostering a pro-growth, pro-job creation climate. Every year, the Center for Economic Development contacts approximately 60 businesses to evaluate their long-term needs and factors affecting their business models.
"Private-sector job creation is the best long-term strategy for Niagara County, but government must listen to what our businesses are saying and work with our job creators," Lance said. "I have already directed Commissioner Ferraro to continue with the business growth and retention program for 2013, and am pleased with the progress this initiative has shown."
Lance noted that her district was, in particular, affected by economic development policy.
"Unlike the majority of my colleagues, I have no 'Main Street' in my district, but I do have a long stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard, and the Niagara Falls International Airport is immediately adjacent," Lance said. "Our economic development policy - and its results - are plainly visible to me every day, but the policies of this government have the potential to impact, positively or negatively, every single business in our county. It will be my goal as chairwoman of this committee to foster economic growth in every corner of our county, from downtown Niagara Falls to the village of Barker."
Updegrove also nominated legislators Wm. Keith McNall (R-Lockport), Chereé J. Copelin (R-LaSalle) and Dave Godfrey (R-Wilson) to serve on the economic development committee. Additional committee appointments will be announced later this week.
Pictured is Niagara County Legislature Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Kathryn Lance.