July 21, 1957 - March 10, 2018
Samuel M. Ferraro, 60, who was regarded as a key figure in Niagara County economic development for generations, died Saturday after a long illness. The location of his death was not disclosed.
"Niagara County lost a giant (Saturday), and I lost a friend," County Manager Richard E. Updegrove said.
Mr. Ferraro, a Niagara Falls resident, began his career in the county Planning Department. He worked several years in Niagara Falls City Hall before rejoining county government, where at the time of his death, he was both commissioner of economic development and executive director of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.
In the dual role, Mr. Ferraro's fingers were on the pulse of every major development project in the county, from the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project to the creation of the Niagara River Greenway and dozens of incentive plans for individual companies.
"Sam was a visionary whose ideas led to job creation in Niagara County. He was also a determined professional who understood that results came from the hard work of implementation, not just enthusiasm for ideas," County Legislator Kathryn L. Lance said.
"Sam Ferraro was one of the hardest-working members of this county’s team, and his upbeat personality and can-do attitude will be missed every single day," Updegrove said. "In the course of a 27-year career with Niagara County, and more than 40 years in the economic development field, Sam amassed great knowledge through his experience, formed valuable relationships, and was a great leader. He had the respect of every individual and organization that conducted business with Niagara County. His presence was felt well beyond the Center for Economic Development, and I know his absence will be as well."
The lifelong Niagara Falls resident was a graduate of the former Bishop Duffy High School, and earned a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning at SUNY Buffalo State.
After about five years with the county, Mr. Ferraro was director of the Niagara Falls Department of Planning and Inspections in the 1980s. In 1992, economic development was added to his portfolio, when he became city director of planning and economic development.
At the behest of Mayor James C. Galie, he was fired in March 1996 in a City Hall purge. But within weeks, Mr. Ferraro was back in Lockport, working as deputy director of the county Planning and Development Department.
He became the head of that department in September 1996, and in June 2003, he also took over the NCIDA. In January 2004, the county changed his title to commissioner of economic development.
Mr. Ferraro's contract in the dual role had just been renewed in January for another five years.
"Sam Ferraro was a man of character and great integrity, and his hard work and contribution to economic development in Niagara County will be remembered for many years to come," County Legislature Chairman W. Keith McNall said. "His commitment to maintaining and fostering a climate welcoming to new businesses, and to business retention, has long been recognized. His years of service to bettering our Niagara County will be part of the legacy he leaves."
His family said that in his spare time, Ferraro liked gardening, traveling with his wife and playing with his two dogs.
Survivors include his wife, the former Pamela Dunbar, and three sisters, Diane Butch, MaryAnn Fisher and Janet Morrow.
Services will be private, at the family's convenience.