Tonawanda News — Schulze Winery operator Ann Schulze agreed, giving credit for the ever-increasing numbers of out-of-state and foreign customers her business has to NTCC.
“It made this (Niagara County/Niagara USA) a destination. ... It would be foolish to change what we’ve got going here,” Vizcarra said.
Kinney reminded the legislators that when the Niagara Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau was being dissolved in the early 2000s, ahead of its merger into the new NTCC, tourism operators and promoters had much “uncertainty” whether Niagara Falls was a viable market. A one-year-only extension for NTCC will create just as much uncertainly, he said, as promotional campaigns, convention bookings and the like are planned years in advance.
“Let’s not do that. Let’s give these extremely competent professionals the (contract) they need to keep working,” Kinney said.
Galib Rizek, proprietor of the Econolodge motel on Niagara Falls Boulevard and vice president of the NTCC Board of Directors, claimed the cloud of uncertainty over NTCC’s future is causing his family to rethink its plans to invest $7 million in new hotel construction.
“It is disappointing that political crossfire is affecting an organization that was created ... to expand prosperity” across the county, Rizek said.
Legislative Majority Caucus Leader Richard Updegrove, R-Lockport, denied “politics” is driving the majority’s resistance to the long-term agreement pitched by NTCC.
Instead, he said, questions about “transparency” and “accountability” have been raised repeatedly by representatives of the agency’s two biggest funders, the cities of Lockport and Niagara Falls, and it’s the legislature’s duty to get the issues worked out before granting NTCC another long-term funding deal.
“Nobody wants NTCC gone,” Updegrove said, suggesting the one-year extender is proof, in that without it the agency can’t receive funding to stay in business in 2013-14.
A new long-term contract is “being negotiated,” he added. “We want to make sure all of our stakeholders are content.”