13 projects support workforce training, tourism, small business & community development initiatives in WNY
Empire State Development and Verizon Media on Tuesday announced the 2020 funding recipients for the Verizon Media Community Fund for Niagara County – Empire State Development. For the 2020 funding cycle, $506,766 was awarded to 13 projects. Beginning in 2015, Verizon Media, a division of Verizon Communications, committed to granting up to $500,000 each year – through 2021 – to community organizations in Lockport and the surrounding areas.
“Our regional economic development strategy profoundly changed the trajectory of New York state and is delivering real results for communities in Western New York,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “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. New York is building back better, stronger and smarter, and this year’s winners of the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund build on the success of previous investments – promoting job training, tourism, small businesses and community development."
“Verizon Media proudly continues to honor its commitment to Western New York through investments in organizations that drive the community forward,” said Verizon Media Vice President of Data Center Operations Paul Bonaro. “We are thrilled to recognize and give back to our neighbors that are driving local development and making Western New York a beautiful, safe, happy and progressive community.”
“As we reopen the economy and build back better and stronger across New York state, this funding reflects the strong partnership between Verizon Media and Empire State Development,” ESD Acting Commissioner, President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “These projects will advance the region’s core enablers – smart growth, entrepreneurship and workforce development – and will benefit Niagara County by strengthening the regional economy and improving New Yorkers' quality of life.”
The Community Benefit Fund was created at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo 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 fund’s creation furthered the company’s initial 2010 commitment to Lockport. The community initiative is part of Verizon Media’s pledge to help drive economic development in Western New York, a regional tech hub for the company.
The next round of annual funding will begin in the spring of 2021, with up to $500,000 available again through both the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Niagara County – Empire State Development and the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Lockport. Earlier this year, the Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Lockport accelerated the original investment timeline and granted the first $250,000 portion to local nonprofit organizations in need during the global pandemic.
Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Niagara County – Empire State Development Awarded Projects
•Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association historical placemaking project – $18,500 grant
Awardee: Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association: DNFBA’s efforts to create a more walkable urban center, focusing on art and historical placemakers will continue with this funding. The project will include commemorative stones celebrating the Hydraulic Canal and two historic art murals.
•“Connecting Tourists to Main Street Economy and Neighborhoods to Employment Opportunities” – $79,616 grant
Awardee: Green Options Buffalo: Green Options Buffalo’s project prioritizes a cohesive approach to connecting downtown Niagara Falls to neighborhoods and business districts through pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and systems.
•Niagara County Community College Center for Advanced Computer Science – $35,000 grant
Awardee: NCCC Foundation Inc.: By transforming lab space into a robust center for advanced computer science, the center will have capability to support 20 state-of-the-art individual computer workstations as well as classroom instruction.
•WNYLC Small Business Legal Clinic – expansion of services into Niagara County – $70,000 grant
Awardee: Western New York Law Center: Niagara Small Business Development Center will provide up to 12 drop-in legal clinics/small business legal services. The WNY Law Center’s Small Business Legal Clinic is a $238,000 project that covers Western New York and receives funding from several other sources, including the Wilson Foundation. The $70,000 expansion will offer Niagara County entrepreneurs assistance with the legal aspects of running a small business as well as supplemental content regarding COVID-19 requirements.
•Youngstown community boating– $60,000 grant
Awardee: Youngstown Junior Sailing Foundation: Waterfront access for adults and children through sailing lessons and sailboat, kayak and paddle boat rentals and support will be provided. The foundation has also agreed to offer the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club two scholarships per year over the next five years to its junior sailing program.
Verizon Media Community Benefit Fund for Lockport Awarded Projects
•FeedMore WNY COVID-19 response in Niagara County – $20,000 grant
Awardee: Food Bank of Western New York Inc.: FeedMore WNY operates a network of food banks in the region and will use this grant to support the Lockport community during this unprecedented and challenging time.
•Lockport Public Library “Electronics for All Ages 2020” – $27,920 grant
Awardee: Friends of the Lockport Public Library: Funds will go toward a major upgrade to the internet access resources and workstations at the Lockport Public Library.
•“Building Community Through Engagement and Education” – $19,701 grant
Awardee: Kenan Center: This grant will ensure the Lockport community has an accessible space to learn, engage others, expand their creativity, and to better understand the world around them through intentional programming aimed toward collaboration and skill building. This initiative aims to sustain the Kenan Center's Montessori preschool, youth soccer, youth play-cation workshops and KidQuest summer youth program.
•Lockport Little League – $20,000 grant
Awardee: Lockport Little League: The Lockport Little League will use this grant to construct new, ADA-compliant restrooms, and improve accessibility throughout the complex.
•The Dale Association capacity building project – $50,000 grant
Awardee: The Dale Association: The Dale Association will expand its mental health services by telehealth, enabling it to securely and effectively serve its clients remotely.
•Hospital sustainability and care enhancement grant – $73,791 grant
Awardee: Eastern Niagara Hospital: The purpose of this grant is to sustain the organization's ongoing operational viability during this temporary period of restricted medical services, which has resulted in reduced volumes, as well as enhance the hospital's ability to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
•“Cornerstone Arena Continues Strong” – $15,337 grant
Awardee: Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center: The grant will fund two major repair projects at the Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center.
•Hearts and Hands: Eastern Niagara Expansion – $16,900 grant
Awardee: Hearts and Hands – Faith in Action Inc.: The capacity of Hearts and Hands program will increase. The program helps older adults remain independent and connected by providing transportation services to those with few options.
ESD is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). 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. Visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
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