By Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
Niagara County economic development leaders and the leadership of the Niagara County Legislature helped roll out new marketing materials designed to protect the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and its 3,000 jobs as the federal government ramps up to consider further base closures.
Headlining the marketing effort rolled out Friday morning were a pair of "Joint Base Niagara" marketing videos that highlighted the air base's current offerings - as well as opportunities to expand into future mission areas.
The marketing materials were developed jointly with the Niagara Military Affairs Council utilizing a $300,000 base retention grant provided by New York state. That effort has led to the development of a "Joint Base Niagara" branding campaign that highlights the potential of the Falls air base in a changing defense mission environment.
The grant also was used to hire the services of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, who headed up the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The Principi Group worked closely with county economic development leaders and NIMAC to produce a future mission study that identifies base development opportunities, as well as a strategic action plan and outreach agenda that will aid in efforts to bolster public support for the base.
"The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is critically important to our local and regional economy, which is why I've made the airbase one of the county's top economic development priorities," said Rick Updegrove, R-Lockport, chairman of the Legislature's economic development committee. "This base accounts for some 3,000 jobs and it has an economic impact of more than $200 million annually in the form of payroll, indirect spending, contracting opportunities for local businesses, and other economic impacts."
Updegrove helped introduce the marketing videos, which The Principi Group developed with Trellis Marketing to highlight the base's long-term potential based on its geographic location, available infrastructure and undeveloped acreage.
"It's more than just an airbase - it's a joint military base, which is why we've developed a marketing campaign around a new community brand promoting the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station as 'Joint Base Niagara,' " Updegrove told attendees at the roll-out event. "In addition to the Air Force Reserve, the base is home to U.S. Air National Guard, Army Reserve and Army National Guard Units, as well as the Buffalo Military Entrance Processing Station, which services all branches of the military and covers 14 counties in two states."
Updegrove also discussed ongoing efforts to enhance existing infrastructure - and make the base a 21st century installation.
"We are currently working with the NFIA stakeholders group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to development of the Niagara Falls International Airport, on a fiber optic infrastructure assessment that will examine broadband access countywide with a focus on fiber optic service around the airport," Updegrove said. "The study will benefit businesses and sites in close proximity to the airport, as well as missions at the base including the remotely piloted aircraft mission coming to the 107th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard, which includes as part of its mission 'Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.' "
Updegrove, who was joined by Economic Development Commissioner Samuel M. Ferraro, said the county viewed protecting the base and its 3,000 jobs as a critical county mission.
"This is not the end of the project, but the beginning of a renewed push to ensure our base stays off the closure list," Updegrove said. "Our base deserves the full attention and consideration of the U.S. military: (It offers) cost efficiencies, existing capabilities, critical infrastructure, regional strengths and base development opportunities.
"These are some of the many assets of 'Joint Base Niagara.' "