Tonawanda News


October 16, 2012

Family of pacemaker inventor bringing philanthropic group to North Tonawanda

A section of North Tonawanda’s waterfront will soon be transformed into new office space for a multi-million-dollar philanthropic organization. 

The East Hill Foundation, run by the family of Wilson Greatbatch, the inventor of the pacemaker, will shift its offices from Akron and Williamsville to a single locale along River Road. 

On Monday, members of the foundation and politicians met inside a building that has served as the Island Street Boatyard for some years. 

With a distinct hole already dug out in the center of the building and the standard gold-colored shovels in place, the ground-breaking officially launched the venture, which is set for completion by January. 

And when it is finished, officials say the project will represent another step forward for North Tonawanda’s ever more ambitious development goals.

Ami Greatbatch, vice president of East Hill, said it has been a dream of hers to bring the organization to the shores of the city where she grew up. 

While the foundation is involved with a plethora of worthy causes, the initial plan is to offer organizations the opportunity to learn grant-writing initiatives, which Greatbatch said will leave them with the tools to reign in their own funding rather than simply relying on a one-time donation, making the foundation “a catalyst for change.” 

“It will teach them to fish rather than give them fish to eat,” Greatbatch said.  

The idea has been in the works for several years while planners say they had to circumvent zoning laws and other bureaucratic processes. Now that’s those hurdles are nearing an end, construction to revamp the future office building is next, before staff members take their positions inside the finished product. 

The foundation will also become more accessible to a variety of organizations, most notably including the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, which has already been allowed access to the property for tours of the waterfront. 

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