Niagara Gazette — A non-profit development group that has been helping the city negotiate with several high-profile hoteliers and business owners will get an extra year on the job.
Members of the NFC Development Corp., a lending arm of the city that provides grants and low-interest loans to area businesses, last week approved a one-year extension to an agreement with the National Development Council. The contract, which runs from June 1 through May 31, 2014, will pay NDC $72,000 for its services.
The NDC specializes in helping urban and rural communities secure financing, tax credits and other assistance for large-scale developments. Dyster attempted in 2010 to convince members of the city council to approve the organization’s hiring under the city’s budget. A majority of lawmakers balked at the idea, prompting Dyster to make a similar request to the NDC a few months later. The NDC’s board formally approved the request in January 2011 and the NDC has been working with the city ever since.
Dyster said the NDC and its lead representative, Robert Sweet, have provided the city with invaluable economic development expertise and contacts. He said the group also offers professional help for the city’s economic development department, which currently does not have a full-time director.
“For $72,000 a year, we’re in effect getting a first-class staff person who is on call all the time,” the mayor said.
While Dyster admitted the group’s efforts have not resulted in any “shovels in the ground” at this point, Dyster said he’s confident the relationship will produce positive development results in the future.
Dyster said Sweet and the NDC have been instrumental in maintaining dialogue with several existing business owners in the city as well as engaging in discussions with new developers from outside the region.
One of the developers on NDC’s list is Niagara Falls Redevelopment, the firm owned by New York City real estate developer Howard Milstein. NFR and its affiliates own more than 400 parcels in the downtown area, including the former Nabisco plant off John B. Daly Boulevard.