Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 13, 2011

Fixing the Falls: All aboard

NIAGARA FALLS — Imagine having developer and one-time gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino as a tour guide.

   Well, under a plan for bringing more business to Niagara Falls and Niagara County, such a scenario may well play out next month.

“We found a good niche and it’s working,” said Paladino, the owner of the Giacomo Hotel, one of the planned stops along a so-called Business Familiarization Tour local economic development officials are planning for Sept. 22. “Our apartments are full. We’re pleased with the result and we’re looking for other opportunities in Niagara.”

Organizers of the event hope listening to Paladino discuss his success in turning the old United Office Building into a high-end, boutique hotel will convince other investors, primarily from Western New York and southern Ontario, to consider doing some business of their own in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Lockport and other parts of Niagara County.

Paladino’s Giacomo is one of the stops along the two-hour bus tour. Commercial developers, Realtors, attorneys, accountants, site selectors and others from the business world who sign on for the ride will get to see the Remington Lofts mixed-used development project in North Tonawanda, Ashland Advanced Materials in the Falls and the ongoing construction of Niagara County Community College’s culinary arts center inside the old Rainbow Centre Mall building.

They also will hear from Remington Lofts developer and owner of The Kissling Interests, Tony Kissling; the president of Taylor Devices, Doug Taylor; and other local business owners and officials.

“We want to give people a good feel about some of the business opportunities in the Niagara County area,” said David Kinyon, executive director for the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency, one of several local agency’s involved in the tour’s development.

The familiarization tour concept stems from a similar event two years ago in Lockport where local economic development officials, looking to capitalize on plans for the construction of a new Yahoo! data center, decided to offer what they called a “business showcase” for potential investors, primarily in Erie County. Kinyon said during the event about 40 developers were taken on a bus tour to see opportunities available inside the town’s industrial park and along the Transit Road business corridor. The goal, he said, was to show investors a side of the community they may not necessarily know about, noting that, very often, ring communities like Lockport are not as high on the radar of site selection companies as larger metropolitan areas like Buffalo.

Last year, the tour concept was tried again — this time with expanded resources and locations offered by the county under what was called the Niagara Business Tour. The event allowed potential investors the opportunity to see Woodlands Corporate Park in Wheatfield, the county IDA’s Vantage International Pointe industrial Park, the Yahoo! data center and the new terminal at the Niagara Falls International Airport. Michael Casale, deputy commissioner for business development with the Niagara County Center for Economic Development, served as tour guide and narrator, offering visitors information about the projects, various incentive programs and opportunities for investors in the area.

“We realized for us to continue to a successful tour would depend heavily on our ability to provide different venues,” Kinyon said.

With this year’s Niagara USA Business Familiarization Tour, officials are hoping to take the project to yet another level. The program is being supported by members of the Niagara County Economic Development Alliance, including the county’s center for economic development, the state-run USA Niagara Development Corp., which oversees economic development projects in downtown Niagara Falls, and the Lockport and Niagara County IDAs. Once again, Casale will guide the tour, offering information on shovel-ready sites, incentives and local resources to go along with first-hand accounts about doing business in the area from Kissling, Paladino, Taylor and others.

“This year, we feel like we’ve put together another package of positive, good news stories in terms of economic development successes in Niagara County,” Kinyon said.

“So far, each year, I think we’ve come up with different venues that speak very positively about the opportunity for investment and job creation north of the Erie County line,” he added.

Contact Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.

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