Niagara Gazette — Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy visited Niagara Falls on Friday to tout a development competition partnership between the city and state meant to spark the development of attractions downtown.
Duffy, standing in front of a crowd of developers and political players, lauded the plan — announced by Gov. Cuomo’s office on Thursday — to make $40 million of state and city money available over the next five years in the effort to leverage private investment and create more entertainment opportunities for tourists.
Duffy said the competition would “spark creativity” and drive developers to come up with ideas that would cause tourists to stay longer and spend more money in the city and region.
“It’s $40 million at a very, very tough time, a very tough economy,” Duffy said. “It’ll be a great shot in the arm to get some things going.”
Duffy said that positive developments in the Falls — the planned Hamister Group hotel project, the current proposals for the redevelopment of the former Rainbow Centre Mall building — are signs of a building momentum downtown.
“You have so much to build upon, so much to be proud of here,” Duffy said. “This is just one more enhancement.”
The public contribution will be split between the state and the city, with $4 million coming from Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” fund and $4 million in casino revenues from the city each year.
Incentives will be awarded by a panel of yet-to-be-named city and state officials who will aim to pick the most creative plans and leverage the largest amount of private investment.
The panel will run the competition with support from Empire State Development and the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.
Mayor Paul Dyster said the city, with the help of the state, has done well to attract hotel developers in recent years, but now needs to add to the great attractions — the aquarium, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute — that already exist in order to lure more tourists and keep them in the city longer.