We were quite happy to read this article in Buffalo Business First about Niagara County’s sudden emergence as a high-tech magnet.
The Albany area, or, more accurately, a corridor stretching along I-87 from Glens Falls south to around Poughkeepsie, has managed to re-brand itself “Tech Valley” over the past decade and a half. Actually, Tech Valley was a major initiative pushed jointly by former Governor George Pataki and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, a moderate Democrat many credit with turning Albany around. And Tech Valley really has turned the Albany area into an economically-strong region, with housing values three times or more what they are here in Western New York, with a growing tax base and a population that is no longer shrinking. It’s our hope that our region can do something similar.
The Business First article notes how both visionary development officials like the Lockport IDA’s David Kinyon, and progressive pro-business, pro-smart growth politicians like Legislator Rick Updegrove (also of Lockport) can really market our region’s strengths. Frankly, to call Kinyon the Architect of Yahoo! would be an understatement—it was his steady hand that managed to turn Yahoo! into a reality even as some politicians, flailing about for credit, were doing their best to derail it. Likewise, it was really Updegrove who saw the value of low-cost power as a tool for our county’s economic expansion, and who was the father of “Empower Niagara”—the government’s program to allocate cheap energy to companies willing to locate in our region.
The reason we’re happy about the Business First article is, frankly, it’s about time someone gets it, and reporter Alissa Kline, seems to. This is the reason the Legislature is suing NYPA. This is the reason that they put Richie Kessel on the stand last week. People like Updegrove have long understood that. The same can be said, truthfully, of Democrats like Renae Kimble and Kyle Andrews—both of them willing to turn the screws on NYPA.
Our region has always had the capacity to serve as a center of high-tech industry. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier because of a little orange airplane built right in Wheatfield. (That same Bell Aerospace plant also built key components that got Neil Armstrong to the moon 40 years ago.)
At Niagara Times, we hope that Yahoo! is just the beginning. Heck, we’ll even put up with Francine trying to steal the credit again if it means more good-paying jobs and a growing tax base.