Last Thursday, Buffalo Common Councilman Michael J. LoCurto led a tour of the Elmwood Village for Niagara Falls Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti and a group of Niagara Falls and Niagara County officials. The purpose of the tour was to examine the workings of a successful urban neighborhood.
Councilwoman Grandinetti contacted Councilman LoCurto earlier this summer to create a partnership. "Councilman LoCurto is an important part of Elmwood Village's rebirth. I respect his work and the creative, small business driven environment on Elmwood Avenue," said Grandinetti. "Niagara Falls is creating a new downtown living destination right now, and we have counterparts in Buffalo with valuable insight. Elmwood Village was not always thriving, and revitalization did not happen by itself. It took strategy and constant effort to make it work, and now residents and visitors spend time and money there. We have the same goal in Niagara Falls."
The City of Niagara Falls recently established a downtown housing incentive program
to help college graduates pay off student loan debt if they move into a specific downtown neighborhood. The incentive is meant to spark interest in Niagara Falls as a living destination, and motivate commercial and residential developers to invest in the City. The program will help reverse decades of population loss, and entice college educated professionals to build a life in Niagara Falls. The City has lost a majority of this demographic, as its population has shrunk by 50 percent over the past 50 years.
In addition to creating a new connection between the Buffalo and Niagara Falls City Councils, this project is fostering partnerships within Niagara County. Earlier this month, the Niagara County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution in support of the City of Niagara Falls' application for $700,000 in New York State funds through the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. The grants would fund capital improvements in the targeted neighborhood. These grant funded investments would also benefit the area surrounding the nearly completed Niagara County Community College Culinary Arts Institute.
Niagara County Legislature Jason Zona, the resolution's prime sponsor, was part of Thursday's tour. "Collaboration between municipalities and elected officials is important," said Zona. "Buffalo's Elmwood Village is a perfect example of a city revitalizing itself through younger, post college professionals. I'm hoping we can have similar success in Niagara Falls, and we look forward to working together to make it happen."