Attention recent college graduates: Niagara Falls wants you!
Desperate for its population to stay above 50,000, Niagara Falls is starting a modest pilot program – using Federal urban renewal funds – to attract 20 young recent college graduates to come live there for at least two years in a particular area of the city near the Seneca Niagara Casino. After a year of residency, each would receive $3,500 for student loan payments.
Industry has been leaving the city for decades, and economic activity on the American side of the Falls is hamstrung by a chicken/egg scenario: tourists don’t much leave the state park because of the blight, and the blight won’t improve unless people go downtown or leave the casino and spend money. The News article about this program says city leaders want to create an “Elmwood Avenue North” relying on recent grads to attract the sorts of business at which they’d spend money.
Niagara University is considering opening a downtown branch, and the NCCC Culinary Institute is under construction, ready to bring another 500 students to downtown when it opens.
It’s an innovative subsidy, and perhaps a sign of desperation, but Niagara Falls, NY has been in desperate straits for a very long time indeed – a city known now as the dowdy American comparative to the attractive, bustling, gorgeously maintained Canadian side; an America paved not with gold, but with depleted uranium.
Attracting young employed people to, in essence, jump-start a gentrification of Niagara Falls may very well be that city’s last, best hope.
After all, as much as any place in western New York, this place truly matters.