Projects support small businesses, literacy and workforce training, food and ecotourism, job creation and community development initiatives in Western New York
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the first recipients of the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County. Over $400,000 was awarded to eight projects to support small businesses, literacy and workforce training, food and ecotourism, job creation and other critical community development initiatives in Western New York.
The Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County connects Yahoo to the community as part of Yahoo's receipt of New York state's Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, as well as an allocation of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority.
"The most successful investments support the growth of the community, as well as businesses, and the state's partnership with Yahoo does exactly that," Cuomo said. "The recent revitalization of Western New York is sustained by locally developed, innovative ideas. This funding will support development and growth in Niagara County, and equip the community with resources for an even brighter future."
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the awards at an event at the Yahoo Data Center in Lockport on Tuesday. She said, "Yahoo has already made a huge investment in Western New York, creating jobs to attract and keep talented workers in the region. This year's recipients will help strategically spread the benefits of this grant funding across Niagara County to further boost the region's economy."
The Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County was created in 2015 as part of Yahoo's agreement with Empire State Development to establish a customer care and data center in Niagara County.
Paul Bonaro, senior director, Yahoo Data Center operations, said, "At Yahoo, we know that our success in Western New York is a direct result of the talented workforce, business-friendly environment and access to renewable energy resources. That's why we're proud to give back to help keep the region strong. We welcome the announcement today from Lt. Gov. Hochul and Empire State Development of nearly $500,000 in grants from the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County. From promoting entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship to fostering education and historic preservation, the awarded projects are laying the foundation for a bright economic future and strong sense of community."
ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "With the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County, ESD has forged a partnership with Yahoo to give back to the region where Yahoo's facilities are located. The projects awarded today were specifically chosen because they align with the WNYREDC's economic development strategies in the region and will benefit community organizations that work in Niagara County."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Our region continues to experience increased economic development and an excitement not seen in many years, because Gov. Cuomo, Empire State Development and companies like Yahoo understand that, for business to succeed, our residents and region need to succeed. We welcome today's announcement and our partners in government and business for continuing to invest in our residents, our region and our future."
New York State Sen. Rob Ortt said, "Yahoo's Community Fund for Niagara County reinforces its commitment to the area while helping to strengthen our economy. The grant recipients are an integral part of our community, and their prospective projects will help to make a positive difference in the lives of all Niagara County residents."
Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "I applaud Yahoo for being an active business partner in our community. Yahoo's community fund is creating economic development opportunities for the region. This is another example of the revitalization taking hold around us. These funds will further our economic expansion, and they will benefit all of Niagara County."
The fund, administered by ESD, considered proposals that advance one or more of the three core enablers - implement smart growth, foster a culture of entrepreneurship and prepare our workforce and/or support any of the region's target industry sectors - as outlined in the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council's strategic plan, "A Strategy for Prosperity."
The next round of annual funding will begin in the spring of 2017, with nearly $250,000 available through the fund.
YAHOO COMMUNITY FUND FOR NIAGARA COUNTY AWARDED PROJECTS
•Workforce Ready Adult Education Training - $160,982
Applicant: Orleans Niagara BOCES
After identifying a significant need for literacy and workforce training in the City of Niagara Falls, ON BOCES will open a workforce development center. ON BOCES will relocate adult training programs beginning this fall in the high-need areas of health care and advanced manufacturing from rural Sanborn to the urban area of Niagara Falls in an attempt to bring training opportunities to those who need it most, and to seamlessly collaborate with the literacy students and programs already running in the city.
•Stella Niagara Preserve Kayak Launch and Shoreline Enhancement Project - $124,985
Applicant: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
The Stella Niagara Preserve is a 29-acre parcel located along the lower Niagara River in the Town of Lewiston. Owned by the Western New York Land Conservancy, it is the largest privately owned, publically accessible, undeveloped tract of land along the entire Niagara River. BNR proposes to elevate the creation of a world-class nature preserve and ecotourism experience that simultaneously provides an important cultural, historical and natural link within the Niagara River Greenway. Complementing plans that are in development for habitat restoration within upland areas of the preserve, BNR proposes to further enhance the public tourism experience by providing a kayak launch and shoreline improvements.
•Eat Fresh WNY - $54,661
Applicant: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County
This project consists of the development of a food tourism and agritourism mobile application for both Android mobile devices and tablets, as well as iPhones and iPads, that would include information, such as local food and agritourism attractions, events, destinations, direct consumer sale venues, restaurants, etc., along with interactive informational features, including URLs, maps, locator and an event and harvest schedule, designed to increase tourist traffic, time spent, revenue, as well as market access and regional branding.
•Historic Downtown Improvement Program - $50,000
Applicant: Lumber City Development Corp.
Lumber City's downtown improvement program, in conjunction with a new form-based zoning code and other ongoing downtown economic development activities, will enhance North Tonawanda's unique historic sense of place. Building enhancements for street facing facade work will be compliant with North Tonawanda's new downtown district zoning code regulations.
•YWCA of the Niagara Frontier Inc. - $33,000
Applicant: YWCA of the Niagara Frontier Inc.
The YWCA of the Niagara Frontier seeks to investigate the feasibility of repurposing its location (49 Tremont St., North Tonawanda) to align with the city's strategic plan to increase housing options and develop the tourism industry in the downtown corridor. The 100-year-old facility is not used to capacity and in need of continued repairs and renovation. Preliminary analysis associated with predevelopment will include a market analysis, environmental assessment and testing, community forums, architectural design and development fees and the approval process.
•The Hospitality Revitalization - $23,080
Applicant: F Bites Culinary
F Bites seeks to create pipelines to careers through its long-established relationships between schools and employers to target students who live in poverty and require educational and vocational training that lead directly to job opportunities in hospitality and tourism. F Bites has partnered with the Niagara Global Tourism Institute and a number of community-based organizations to provide a series of instructional classes in hospitality, tourism and culinary skills to youth and adults throughout the community. Upon completion of their training, participants will be linked to jobs in tourism - one of the top five most employable workforce sectors of the region.
•Kid's Cove Community Fishing School - $20,000
Applicant: On the Line Foundation
Kid's Cove will offer a fishing school to take place for Niagara County youths. The curriculum will be provided by the Niagara County Fish Advisory Board in conjunction with New York State Department of Conservation, and will be taught by interns through Niagara University's College of Tourism and Hospitality. Participants will be instructed on how to take the core fishing skills learned at Kid's Cove and implement them in the local job force.
•Niagara County Entrepreneurial Training Program - $15,000
Applicant: Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center
The Niagara Small Business Development Center proposes to revive the popular microenterprise training program it had previously facilitated for the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for more than 25 years. The proposed program will consist of 12 three-hour workshops one evening per week at Niagara County Community College. Registrants are expected to range from a mix of existing and soon-to-open businesses as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. The goal is to work with attendees to develop or refine their business plan, and to take ownership of the development process. For established businesses, the Small Business Development Center will work with clients on funding packages, financial analysis and/or strategic planning.
More information on the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County is available HERE.
ESD is New York's chief economic development agency. Its mission is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York.
ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I Love NY," the state's iconic tourism brand.