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Niagara County IDA will focus on marketing to draw projects to area

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is kicking off a new marketing effort in the new year.

Former County Legislator Andrea L. Klyczek, the marketing director hired in September, told the IDA board at its Dec. 14 meeting that she intends to emphasize face-to-face interactions with business decision-makers in trying to drum up projects for the county.

"The most important thing is to have someone out in the business community," said Klyczek.

She said memberships in trade groups are a good way to start.

"We have to make sure the IDA has a presence at things like the commercial real estate development association meeting," Klyczek said.

"This is a new venture for us, and we need to get some traction," IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma said.

His top priority is to lure more Canadian companies into Niagara County. Several years ago, the IDA had a streak of such clients, but the cross-border connection has seemingly dried up.

"We need more penetration into Canada. They have a robust economy, in spite of ours," Sloma said. "That is a huge market, and they have lots of money. We want to get more projects coming in from Canada."

"Prior to my arrival in 2003 [as IDA executive director], there was no marketing effort," said Samuel M. Ferraro, who also is county economic development commissioner.

In 2004, the IDA started a Canadian marketing effort with a goal of 150 in-person meetings a year, but the work was divided among four staff members who had other duties.

In 2007 and 2008, the IDA employed a private marketing firm to try to pick up the slack.

Ferraro said Klyczek's effort has a $30,000 budget. Besides IDA staff time, some of the Economic Development Department's $9,800 budget for printing and publications will be devoted to preparing marketing literature.

Klyczek said the IDA's website should be updated -- it was last redesigned in 2009 -- and the agency needs to expand its presence on social networking sites like Facebook.

Klyczek said the marketing materials should be industry-specific. "What we had before was business park-specific," she said, meaning that the county was concentrating on filling locations more than targeting suitable types of industries.

In addition, "I want to develop a list of supply-chain companies that have a business connection with companies in Niagara County," she said.

Klyczek said the IDA needs to get itself into the minds of what she called "beginning process people," such as commercial lenders and developers, architects and engineers who are active in the early stages of new projects.

Klyczek also is researching grant funding possibilities for a business incubator building at the IDA's Vantage International Pointe industrial park off Lockport Road in Wheatfield. Such a building would be constructed to the latest "green" standards, she said.

And the county will continue to seek more data centers to follow in the wake of the Yahoo facility in the Town of Lockport, Klyczek said.