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Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board recommends funding for Niagara University, NFIA Stakeholders Group

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Mon, Apr 25th 2016 04:50 pm

The Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board (WNYPPAB) today voted to recommend $590,000 in funding to Niagara University and NFIA Stakeholders Group Inc. The funding would pay for a portion of the costs associated with tourism/marketing and infrastructure/downtown investment projects. WNYPPAB's recommendation is expected to be considered by the New York Power Authority board of trustees at a future date.

"Today's recommendations will strengthen the viability of the Niagara Region by providing needed funding to tourism and infrastructure projects in Niagara County," said Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board Chairman Anthony J. Colucci III. "We continue to welcome additional applications for funding awards, especially those that create new, well-paying job opportunities in the region."

Details on the recommended projects include:

•Niagara University: Recommended Award Amount: $500,000

Niagara University will use WNYPPAB-recommended funding to support a project that builds off an initial effort that established the Niagara Global Tourism Institute in the City of Niagara Falls. This second project will focus on implementing initiatives built around research, skills development, technology and business incubation focus areas established under the first project. NGTI's objectives and tourism focus are of great importance to the region and a natural extension of Niagara University's long-term strategy to lead in global tourism education and research.

The total project cost is $891,325.

•NFIA Stakeholders Group Inc.: Recommended Award Amount: $90,000

NFIA Stakeholders Group will develop the "NFIA Business District Fiber Optic Network Implementation Plan," the second phase of an initiative to assess and develop the fiber optic infrastructure feeding the Niagara Falls International Airport and surrounding businesses. The ultimate objective of the initiative will be to provide access to affordable, high-speed fiber optic broadband service to existing businesses located in and around the NFIA, and make a direct investment in the fiber optic broadband infrastructure to facilitate business attraction efforts. Investments in infrastructure are necessary to attract high-tech industries and information technology companies, which are growing sectors of the local, regional and national economy.

The total project cost is $180,000.

The latest recommendations for proceeds awards stem from legislation, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, known as the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Act. The legislation authorizes net earnings from the sale of unused hydropower from the NYPA's Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant to be deposited into the Western New York Economic Development Fund to support economic development in Western New York. The fund has accrued approximately $41 million to date. Approximately $32 million from that amount has been approved for awards by the NYPA trustees on the basis of earlier recommendations by the proceeds allocation board. These earnings are designated to spur capital investments and job growth.

The Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board reviewed these and other applications for fund proceeds in accordance with requirements of the act. For example, eligible projects must be located within a 30-mile radius of NYPA's Niagara Power Project. The allocation board also considers the extent to which an award would be consistent with the strategies and priorities of the area New York regional economic development councils. Contracts with awardees will include provisions for periodic audits to ensure the funds are utilized for agreed-upon purposes. Some projects are subject to legal requirements that must be satisfied before an award of fund proceeds can be made.

The power proceeds board is comprised of the following members, appointed by Cuomo: Chairman Colucci III, managing attorney of the law firm of Colucci & Gallaher in Buffalo; Deanna Alterio Brennan, president of the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce; Brenda Williams McDuffie, president of the Buffalo Urban League; Dennis W. Elsenbeck, regional executive of National Grid Western Division; and Henry F. Wojtaszek, an attorney with the law firm of Harris Beach in Buffalo.

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