Can they capitalize on weeks of attention, and bring meaningful, long-lasting tourism and economic development to the city?
Buffalo's Early News and WBEN.com take a look .
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Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark
Historian Paul Gromosiak skeptical despite spectacle
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"The specific problem for Niagara Falls is after 40 years of probably dysfunctional politics as well as economic decline, how do you begin to address what the future looks like"
--Eddie Friel, Niagara University
Eddie Friel is a veteran of the fight.
A former executive at Hertz , he has run tourism campaigns globally, was responsible for the European re-branding of Glasgow Scotland, and is a expert in residence at Niagara University's Hospitality and Tourism Research Center. And he has seen this trouble before
"Niagara Falls isn't the first city to experience the detritus of post-industrialization, and the question about how do you re-invent and re-claim your city for a twentieth century knowledge economy is the challenge Niagara Falls, and Buffalo and Detroit are facing."
The problem in Niagara Falls is, he says, they are coming to the realization way too late. Other cities in the US have made the leap toward something new long ago, while Niagara Falls seems stuck on the hope that manufacturing could rise again and save them, he says.
"The specific problem for Niagara Falls is after 40 years of probably dysfunctional politics as well as economic decline, how do you begin to address what the future looks like, and what would success look like, and what are the drivers of the economy going to be," says Friel. " .... and how can you get the right people in the right place ..so we can create wealth and jobs for the community of Niagara Falls, before we start to worry about tourism or anything else. "
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From Hardline, the WBEN Politics Program
Eddie Friel, Niagara University
NYS Senator George Maziarz
A Reporters' Roundtable
with Rick Pfeiffer of the Niagara Gazette
and WGRZ's Dave McKinley
Some other factors cited by experts and observers:
No Vision: For the past five years the city has had a master plan, outlining some of the basics that are part of the economic development in most any other place, but it has sat on the shelf, virtually untouched.
The Search for a "Silver Bullet": City leaders seem to feel one event, one wirewalk, could be the turning point, rather than looking for the broader strategy. See above.
No Money Being Spent : Developers who are "squatting" on parcels rather than moving ahead with their own spending are a major issue. Several are operating as land speculators waiting for something like Disney to come, says Rick Pfeiffer of the Niagara Gazette. "They are looking for someone to come in and create another Times Square," he says.
Politics: "There are so many structural problems with politics there," says Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer and other observers like WGRZ's Dave McKinley, who began his career as a reporter in Niagara Falls, both point to petty squabbles that have regularly hampered the "vision" for a fresh Niagara Falls.
Item One: Mayor Paul Dyster and State Sen. George Maziarz don't get along: " I would even say they are enemies," says McKinley. Maziarz downplays the rift, but acknowledges that he and Dyster don't agree on "an event focussed strategy" for the region, that Maziarz says could continue to pump Wallenda like publicity and interest into the community.
Item Two: The city council has no district members --each are elected at-large-- so you have in Pfeiffer's words, " five little mini-mayors," each wanting to be in control, rather than working collaboratively