Letter to the Editor from Michael S. Gawel

I rarely praise Democrats for legislation, but U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has been doing a great job for New York State. Senator Schumer spearheaded the Federal technology hub program that resulted in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse joint effort to win $40 million in a competition run by the U.S. Economic Development Administration under the NYS Smart I-Corridor the three cities are working together to bolster the semiconductor industry. This should be a booster to the Buffalo-Niagara region technology sector.

Although Niagara Falls is not included in the plan it does not mean that the City of Niagara Falls and business in Niagara Falls are excluded. There are five ways that Niagara Falls can benefit from Buffalo expansion of the semiconductor industry.

  1. With more business joining the supply chain, some may locate in Niagara Falls.
  2. With more business, more workers will get hired and need to be trained. NCCC and Niagara County could expand their technology training.
  3. The University of Buffalo and others will work on the Commercialization of new technologies which would benefit Niagara Falls.
  4. New businesses will utilize vacant or underutilized land, decreasing the amount of neglected property.
  5. New businesses will increase the City tax base.

It is up to the City of Niagara Falls to capitalize on this Federal funding and the new jobs coming to the area. To the west of us INTEL is investing $20 Billion in a chip producing facility in Columbus and to the East in Syracuse Micro Technology is investing $100 Billion in a chip producing complex. Niagara Falls sits between them- what are we doing?

PVS Solutions is a company that makes sulfuric acid is already planning on expanding. For years Niagara Falls was a leader in chemical manufacturing. We are in an ideal situation to get back to that business and to expand into more high technology industries like chip manufacturing and data centers.

Another area that is lacking is training workers for the semiconductor industry and high technology in general. NCCC could partner with a local business to fill this need. ON_RAMP is a $200 million workforce train program looking for a home. Why not Main Street, Niagara Falls? The ON-RAMP program will allow SMART-NY funding to expand to other areas like Niagara Falls and Niagara County. Niagara Falls could provide the training for technicians and technical jobs. We need to sell Niagara Falls as a relevant place for young people with modern skills and places to apply those skills. The first step in this process may be for Niagara County and Niagara Falls to work with Niagara Falls Redevelopment and Urbacon to open negotiations and put aside their differences to allow NFR to allow Urbacon to build the Data Center on their own land. I recommend Angelo Morinello to mediate. The City Council and the administration need to have the courage to think outside of the box and move toward technology, utilizing the resources that the City of Niagara Falls is famous for – low cost electric hydropower and fresh water.


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