Niagara Gazette —
Mayor Paul Dyster, who sits on the agency’s board, said the projects represent an increase in government’s ability to leverage greater amounts of private investment through grants and loans in the district than in previous years.
“You’re going to get less leveraging for those that are in the first wave of investments,” Dyster said.
Dyster said that while some investments — like Yvonne’s Bakery and Cafe which closed its doors last fall — have failed others such as Wine on Third have been able to survive despite some of the challenges that Third Street businesses face.
“One of the problems we’ve had on Third Street is that we’ve had a lot of good businesses open there, but in isolation,” Dyster said.
Dyster said that the success of Wine on Third along with the new investments on the 400 block could be a tipping point for the critical mass that various government agencies have been trying to build in the district for more than a decade.
“We’re not there yet. We know that,” Dyster said. “But clearly the investment climate is improving because the leveraging that we’re getting with this latest round of projects is way better than historically we’ve been able to get for projects in this area and I think that’s a positive.”
USA Niagara began investing in the street in 2004 beginning with infrastructure improvements that included expanded sidewalks and signage on the street and has continued with investments in businesses in the district.
The state agency’s president Chris Schoepflin attended Wednesday’s meeting to speak in support of the projects.
“Generally I’d say it’s just really heartening from my perspective to see such a critical mass of investment planned in a strategic area that we’ve been focused on for a long period of time,” Schoepflin told the NFC Development Corp. board before they voted on the grants.