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Niagara University tourism institute to receive $500,000

A Niagara University institute aimed at studying and promoting tourism in Niagara Falls is in line to receive $500,000 in funding through the New York Power Authority.

The Niagara Global Tourism Institute was recommended for the funding Monday by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board, which uses money from unallocated hydropower produced at the Niagara Power Project to fund economic-development projects within a 30-mile radius of the power plant.

The funding, which still must be approved by the Power Authority’s board of trustees, will help the institute launch an $891,000 program to study why people come to the area and help agencies and businesses work together to help keep visitors in the area longer. The institute also will develop programs to improve the skills of hospitality and tourism industry workers and provide training for unemployed workers.

The university also has pledged $254,000 in funding for the initiative, leaving a funding gap of about $137,000.

The board also approved $90,000 in funding for a $180,000 initiative to develop a plan to install and operate a fiber-optic network on the southern portion of the Niagara Falls International Airport business district as a way of attracting high-tech industries and information technology companies to the site.

National Grid has agreed to provide the other $90,000 needed to carry out the plan, which also would help existing businesses, including Calspan Corp., Wheatfield Business Park and Rainbow Industrial Center.

The Power Authority funding comes from money generated by the sale of 93 megawatts of unused hydropower from the Niagara Power Project and set aside for economic-development projects in the region.

The fund currently has $6.6 million available for economic-development projects. The fund has awarded $34.6 million to economic-development projects within 30 miles of the Niagara Power Project since the program began in 2010.