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ESD, Verizon Media announce $381,470 in Community Benefit Funds for Niagara County & Lockport

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Tue, Sep 10th 2019 09:20 am

15 projects support workforce training, tourism, small business, community development initiatives & job training in Western New York

Empire State Development and Verizon Media on Monday announced the 2019 funding recipients for the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Lockport, and Verizon Media Community Fund for Niagara County – Empire State Development. For the 2019 funding cycle, $381,470.81 was awarded to 15 projects. Each year from 2015-21, Verizon Media has committed to granting up to $500,000 to community organizations in Lockport and the surrounding areas.

“Our regional economic development strategy is delivering real results for Western New York and our entire state,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement. “Verizon Media has made significant investments in Niagara County, and we have worked with them to ensure our investment at the Verizon facilities in Lockport results in economic development across the region. As we announce the latest winners of the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund, we know the projects being funded are delivering on our efforts designed to foster entrepreneurship, workforce development, and smart growth.”

“Verizon Media is committed to deepening our relationship with Western New York, and we feel honored to invest in organizations like those recognized today that are driving innovation and growth in this community,” said Verizon Media VP of Data Center Operations Paul Bonaro. “Our Lockport team calls this region ‘home,’ and we are dedicated to supporting our neighbors and cultivating local progress.”

“This funding reflects the strong partnership between Verizon Media and ESD and supports projects that will benefit the entire Western New York community. The recipients selected are important partners that help carry out our strategic vision to support the area’s key sectors and grow the region’s economy,” said ESD Acting Commissioner, President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler.

As part of Verizon Media’s $170 million agreement with ESD to establish a customer care center and expand its existing data center in Niagara County, the Community Benefit Fund was created at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo in 2015. This was in addition to the initial commitment the company made to Lockport in 2010 with the Community Benefit Fund. The community initiative is part of Verizon Media’s commitment to drive economic development in Western New York, a hub of technical excellence for the company.

Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Niagara County – Empire State Development Awarded Projects

•Opening Doors to Job Skills and Career Pathways in Niagara Falls, $75,000 grant; awardee: Heart, Love & Soul: Development of a one-stop service center, known as Daybreak, to reduce barriers to services that are essential for helping low-income and marginalized populations achieve employment and career pathway goals.

•Providing Public Access and Recreational Opportunities Along Cayuga Creek, $43,200 grant; awardee: Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper: Introduce public access to a Cayuga Creek site, which currently does not exist. Design of walking trails and access elements to connect the community to critical natural resources, promote smart growth principles and encourage walkability.

•Small Business Videography Marketing Initiative, $20,000 grant; awardee: NCCC Foundation Inc.: The Niagara Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will facilitate entrepreneurs, start-up and small local businesses in developing and implementing video content for online marketing and social media platforms. Primary goal is to promote growth of Niagara County businesses through strengthening marketing and advertising strategies.

•Mobilized Job Training for People with Disabilities, $9,270 grant; awardee: Empower: Establishment of a portable community prevocational program to include a coffee cart, equipment and one year of supplies to operate at a community location. Up to 12 workers with IDD will participate in the coffee cart program over a 12-month period.

Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Lockport Awarded Projects

•Historic Palace Theatre Phase II Renovation, $50,000 grant; awardee: Historic Palace Inc.: Phase two renovations to the inner lobby, including upgrades to the concession and bar areas, and creation of a new merchandise area.

•Lockport Ice Arena Skating Continuation and Zamboni Projects, $31,800 grant; awardee: Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center: Funding for the Skating Continuation program and purchase of a used Zamboni ice resurfacer.

•Driving Family & Educational Supports at Aurora House, $23,828 grant; awardee: Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc.: Replace one of two minivans used daily by Aurora House for its family support services and educational programs.

•HON Rescue Animal Community Education Center, $21,741.18 grant; awardee: Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue Inc.: Increase available space for community organizations by renovating a 30-foot-by-40-foot pole barn for training, meeting and activity space.

•Flight of Five Security Cameras, $20,000 grant; awardee: Lockport Locks Heritage District Corp.: Installation of security cameras within the Locks District for the protection of key assets, and for safety and security.

•Support for The Salvation Army in Lockport’s Soup Kitchen and Youth Programs, $20,000 grant; awardee: Salvation Army-Lockport: Support for The Sister Mary Loretto Memorial Soup Kitchen and Youth Programs, which serve residents of Lockport and the surrounding area.

•Attic Rebuild, $18,991 grant; awardee: Youth Mentoring Services of Niagara County Inc.: Replacement of the attic to provide a safe and welcoming environment for disadvantaged children and their families.

•Lockport Recovery Center, $17,000 grant; awardee: Save the Michaels of the World Inc.: Creation a Lockport recovery center that supports ongoing recovery for individuals and families.

•BPO Music for Youth Concerts at Lockport High School, $12,500 grant; awardee: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society: Enable Lockport Schools to participate in the BPO’s Music for Youth education programs in 2020, continuing arts engagement within the district.

•Lockport Literacy Drop-In Center, $10,000 grant; awardee: Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara Inc.: Provide functionally illiterate adults with immediate access to literacy tutoring at the Lockport Literacy Drop-In Center and adult education classes in the Lockport Literacy Zone.

•Education STEM-ming from the Ground, $8,140.63 grant; awardee: DeSales Catholic School: Creation of a garden allowing students to learn from a living science laboratory.

The next round of annual funding will begin in the spring of 2020, with up to $500,000 available again through the two funds.

New York State Sen. Robert G. Ortt said, “This funding from Verizon Media will help transform community partnerships across Niagara County and open doors of opportunity for countless residents. Verizon Media has been a strong community partner, and the state should continue to use this model to invest in our communities. I applaud the investment into Western New York and look forward to seeing the wonderful changes that result directly from Verizon Media’s investment into the Community Benefit Fund.”

Assemblyman Michael Norris said, “Lockport has recently seen very welcome investment, with Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding, investment in the rehabilitation of the Erie Canal Locks, and the arrival of the Discover Niagara Shuttle. The grant awards from Verizon Media and Empire State Development will only contribute to the revitalization in our city and region, growing economic development, opportunity and tourism. I am proud to be a part of and support these initiatives and thank Verizon and Empire State Development for their commitment to Niagara County.”

Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD 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. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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