NIAGARA FALLS, NY - There's a new effort to spark tourism in Niagara Falls by building more attractions for visitors.
Leaders say this one differs from others because it seeks to target certain types of development in a specific area, and that funding decisions will be made locally.
$3 million in state funds, gleaned the state’s cut of revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino, has now been secured to help entrepreneurs build attractions within one mile of the casino, according to NYS Senator Robert Ortt.
“One of the things I heard over and over again was the lack of -- or the feeling of a lack of -- private investment activity in and around the immediate area where the casino is," said Ortt.
Money from the Niagara Falls Economic Development Fund will be earmarked to build things for visitors to enjoy near the casino.
“This is so that when the visitors come and walk out of the park they have more restaurants, attractions and things to go to," said NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello.
The lawmakers cautioned that available dollars won’t be used to fund projects in their entirety.
Rather, the fund can be used as seed money for projects for developers whose projects not only meet the criteria for development, but who are also putting up at least 20% of their own money.
In addition, hotel projects are not eligible, according to Steve Brady of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, which will administer the funds and award the grants.
“People don’t come to a tourist area like this for the hotels,” said Brady. “The hotels are there to support the other things that are here, and we want this funding to create more of the attractions that will draw people to Niagara Falls, who will then fill those hotels,” Brady said.
However, according to Ortt, if a hotel owner would like to add an attraction onto their property besides additional rooms, which is open to others besides their guests, they would be eligible to apply for funding.
This might bode well for Mike DiCienzo, who has hit a wall in seeking state help for his plans to construct a water park adjacent to his downtown Sheridan.
"I think if it's more focused to the attraction based development, which I understand to be the case, I think that's fantastic for everybody in the marketplace," DiCienzo told WGRZ-TV.