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Niagara lawmakers seek grant of $1.7 million for tech park

Niagara County is seeking $1.7 million in state and federal money to pay for an entrance road and sewers in a farm field it has dubbed the Cambria Technology Park.

The Lockport Road field has been declared a "shovel-ready" site for high-tech industries.

It was dubbed a technology park in February, but despite that designation, much work is needed to get it ready for development, including a road into the field, sanitary sewers and a sewage pumping station.

The County Legislature's Economic Development Committee voted last week to seek 50 percent of the project's costs from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the other half from the state's Regional Economic Development Council.

"If we get the EDA grant, it would be much easier to get the regional economic council to commit," asserted Legislature Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport.

The money, if it is received, would be passed through the county's hands to the Town of Cambria, but the county retains control of marketing and development coordination for the 152-acre site.

The committee also approved a $75,000 grant application to Empire State Development for a promotional effort in Florida to lure tourists to Niagara Falls, via flights from Florida on airlines that serve Niagara Falls International Airport.

"This would be the first concerted effort to promote inbound tourism," Economic Development Commissioner Samuel M. Ferraro said. Plans include billboards near airports and TV and radio commercials.

The first year's effort would be carried out in Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Lakeland-Winter Haven. In the second year, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Punta Gorda-Fort Myers-Naples markets would be added.

Also, senior planner Benjamin J. Bidell demonstrated a new feature of the county's economic development website: a Web portal that aims to connect would-be developers with all the planning and zoning regulations and state and local permits they have to grapple with in order to open a business.

There are links to the laws, zoning maps and permit regulations for every municipality in the county, the county itself and the state, Bidell said.

Bidell will bring his live tutorial to the full County Legislature meeting Tuesday.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com