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Third annual Niagara Poverty Conference to focus on economic development

by jmaloni


Sat, Feb 21st 2015 01:35 am

The third annual Poverty Conference, hosted by the Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless, will take place Friday, March 13, at Niagara University's Dunleavy Hall.

The theme for this year's event is "From the Ground Up: Economic Development Solutions to Alleviating Poverty." The conference will include examples of national, regional and local economic development initiatives, highlighted by keynote speakers Jeanne DuBois, strategic adviser for Boston's Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp., and Gary Wozniak of Detroit's RecoveryPark.

"Successful economic development strategies not only promote economic growth; they improve the quality of life and revitalize neighborhoods for the long term," said Robyn L. Krueger, executive director of Community Missions Inc. and homeless coordinator for the Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless. "These improvements promote reductions in poverty, unemployment and housing stability."

DBEDC focuses on affordable housing, community engagement, economic development and small business assistance within its inner-city Boston neighborhood. It engages more than 1,400 residents annually, has brought about thousands of jobs and housing units, and improved quality of life for those residing in Dorchester Bay and beyond.

Wozniak's RecoveryPark efforts have brought together a coalition of more than 125 government, education, nonprofit and for-profit entities to envision a community development and large-scale metropolitan agriculture project in Detroit. Its goal is to offer insight into financially self-sustainable models and lifestyle options that end population losses in core city neighborhoods, while attracting employment opportunities to fuel further development ideas.

Following these morning addresses, the scope of the conference narrows to the Western New York region. This will include speakers from Buffalo's Massachusetts Avenue Project, People United for Sustainable Housing and Empire State Development's Western New York regional office. The final session of the day, titled "What's Developing in Niagara County," will bring together economic development leaders from the county's three cities for a discussion on current and future initiatives.

New to the conference this year are advocacy efforts, including increased funding for homelessness and transportation. These are designed to make an impact upon key local issues beyond the day of the event. The conference also will introduce a plan to keep conversations that come out of the event going throughout the year.

The event is open to the public at a cost of $20, which includes continental breakfast and lunch provided by the Catering Crew of the YWCA of Niagara. The registration deadline is March 6, though early registration is encouraged, as space is limited. Registration can be completed online by visiting www.niagara.edu/povertyconference or by calling 716-205-0287.

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