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April 7, 2013

City selects first of student loan payback recipients

Tonawanda News — Bobbie Thoman wants a chance to be part of the revitalization of Niagara Falls.

Thoman, 23, is one of five awardees picked to be the first participants in Live NF, a program that pays up to $7,000 in student loans for recent college graduates who move into a targeted area in downtown Niagara Falls. She will soon be moving from the Town of Lockport, where she grew up, into the city.

“I just think that there is so much potential in the area,” she said.

The Live NF program, which is run out of the city’s Community Development department, will pay 20 recent graduates to live in the neighborhood surrounding the corner of Main Street and Park Place and will cost the city $200,000. It is aimed at creating a community of young professionals that will help to stabilize the city’s population and make downtown a more attractive place to live for a new generation of taxpayers.

Thoman, who recently graduated from the University at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, said she is excited by the prospect of working with other recent college graduates to tackle the many issues that the city faces and foster a sense of community in the Cataract City.

“People want things to get better and I want to be part of that,” she said.

The stipend that will help her repay her loans was definitely a factor in her decision to apply for the program.

“It’s a great thing,” Thoman said. “Who doesn’t want their loans paid back?”

But she said the opportunity to be part of a possible turnaround for the city was more important to her.

“We always have that question. Why is everyone going to Canada, Clifton Hill?,” Thoman said. “So to be part of the group that brings (business) here, that’s what I’m excited to do.”

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