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Graphic courtesy of Empire State Development
Graphic courtesy of Empire State Development

ESD details $40 million initiative for Niagara Falls projects


Wed, Jul 20th 2022 08:25 pm

Niagara Falls Strategic Economic Development Initiative projects will be funded through regional revitalization partnership

√ Read booklet here

Empire State Development (ESD), its USA Niagara Development Corp. (USAN) subsidiary, and the City of Niagara Falls held a virtual information session Wednesday and announced program components and next steps for the Niagara Falls Strategic Economic Development Initiative. The $40 million plan is intended to spur targeted investment throughout city business districts along Niagara Street, Main Street, Portage Road and Pine Avenue.

A detailed booklet on the initiative and projects/programs was also released and can be found here.

Planned efforts include fostering agritourism and food entrepreneurship through revitalizing the City Market; supporting and improving important heritage and community facilities in the target areas; assisting small business owners in restoration of storefront facades and other capital improvements; and investing in the capacity of local organizations to take on long-term responsibility for these improvements and projects.

Components of the initiative were identified through a community-driven, year-long process and are being funded through the regional revitalization partnership (RRP), which was announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul in June. The RRP is a $300 million private and public regional co-investment in three interconnected geographic areas: Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester. This community-driven strategy seeks to build local wealth and empower residents using a model that drives economic development through government and philanthropy partnerships.

“The Niagara Falls Strategic Economic Development Initiative has taken a forward-thinking and community-driven approach to identify projects that will create a more vibrant city. By enhancing mixed-use, walkable corridors that better connect downtown to adjoining neighborhoods, growing new businesses and increasing waterfront access, Niagara Falls will be a more dynamic draw for visitors and entrepreneurs alike” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “With funding through the Regional Revitalization Partnership now in place, we can now get to work moving these critical initiatives forward.”

“Working together with the state and community partners, we now have a solid economic development plan in place that builds on Niagara Falls’ unique assets and will work to build and lengthen visitorship, which will grow small businesses, heritage areas and commercial corridors,” City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said. “The projects and programs expanded upon today represents a portfolio aimed at improving economic conditions in Niagara Falls. I look forward to getting to work.”

A press release said, “The initiative’s investment and implementation strategy was developed throughout 2021. It is based on data and analysis aimed at identifying a targeted investment approach. Ideas were solicited from stakeholders, and input from several dozen listening sessions held to assess priorities and cultivate priority projects.”

With the RRP now formally announced, the state has released additional details on the components of the initiative and anticipated breakdown of RRP funding:

√ Grow the Niagara Falls Agritourism Sector through Innovation & Entrepreneurship – $19 million. The program will foster a long-term pipeline for food entrepreneurship in Niagara Falls that capitalizes on the rich food culture of the city, regional agricultural strengths, and food-based tourism/hospitality opportunities and trends. Funding will support a food-based ecosystem strategic action plan along with capital needs, organizational supports and programmatic interventions associated with the plan. Revitalization of the City Market area along Pine Avenue will serve as a key anchor of this effort.

√ Waterfront, Heritage Tourism and Community Anchors – $15 million. Investment in waterfront and heritage tourism projects will reinforce and strengthen important corridors connecting to the waterfront, upgrade community anchors, and/or enhance the current or future built environment.

√ Small Business & Placemaking – $5 million. The initiative will establish a Niagara Falls small business property improvement program to provide funding for renovations to commercial and mixed-use buildings along the investment corridors. In coordination with the City of Niagara Falls, funding will also be dedicated to selected streetscape and infrastructure improvements along the investment corridors.

√ Intermediary & Community-Based Organizational Support – $1 million. The funding will help build the capacity of local government and not-for-profit organizations to help implement components of the initiative and undertake follow-on activities once these projects are completed. Such project leadership and coordination would help maintain the momentum of revitalization moving forward.

The press release continued, “The state thanks individuals or groups that have participated thus far, and urge them to continue to stay involved in activities like the design/structuring of the City Market revitalization and activities to improve small business and community/heritage facilities.”

The contact email address for the initiative is [email protected]. For more information on the Niagara Falls Strategic Economic Development Initiative, visit https://buffalobillion.ny.gov/niagara-falls-strategic-economic-development-initiative.

ESD is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov).

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