Niagara Gazette — "I've had couples that got married last year who are making plans for family vacations," said Shanie McCowen, who two years ago began a wedding planning business in the city catering to same-sex couples. Last year, she booked 40 weddings.
The city hasn't given up on industry. Dyster points to two environmentally friendly factories: the $455 million Greenpac paper mill set to come on line this month and JBI Inc., which has made 480,000 gallons of fuel from recycled waste plastic since 2011.
Dyster calls them the opposite of the type of industry that led to the environmental disaster at Love Canal that the city became synonymous with in the 1970s.
"You're taking waste and turning it into something useful instead of leaving it behind to bubble up in backyards," he said.
The promotion of Niagara Falls got a boost last month with Cuomo's settlement of a contract dispute with the Seneca Indian Nation that had stalled $89 million in revenue-sharing payments to the city from the tribe's Niagara Falls casino. Along with millions targeted for schools, infrastructure and a city hospital, more than $6 million of that had been earmarked for crucial marketing.
The removal of the Robert Moses Parkway from along the Niagara Gorge is expected to make room for new hiking and bicycling trails as well as horseback riding, zip-lining, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
"The Niagara Falls today and for a hundred years has been more of a place where you went to see," Schoepflin said. "We're trying to convert that to a place that you experience, that you do."
Few urban areas can offer that, he said.
"I really do feel the worst is behind us," said John Percy, president of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. "I think all the planets have aligned."