In 1825, the construction of the Erie Canal turned the Buffalo Niagara region from isolated frontier land to hub of activity. While that specific use no longer supports Buffalo Niagara’s clout, water in general still propels the region forward each day.
One of Buffalo Niagara’s greatest assets is affordable hydropower. Companies that work on multiple shifts or even 24 hours per day use an immense amount of power. Often those energy intensive companies are in advanced manufacturing. Luckily, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) allows companies within the Buffalo Niagara region to apply for low cost hydropower that can significantly influence a company’s bottom line.
Buffalo Niagara’s innate geography, with Niagara Falls in our backyard, gives access to a large plant.
The Niagara Falls plant alone supports:
- 51 municipal and rural cooperatives in New York State
- Over 120 large, energy intensive businesses in Western New York
- Portions of neighboring states’ power
“If we’re talking about attracting a business to Western New York, I think [hydropower] should be part of the initial conversation,” said Keith Hayes, economic development vice president for NYPA on a recent episode of Bell Ringer.
‘The Blue Economy’
SUNY College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College) has an entire program devoted to future sustainability of resources, often with an emphasis on water. Entrepreneurship in the Blue Economy, a certificate program at the college, has focuses in wastewater management and sustainability. The mantra, “do well by doing good” is its center.
The Buffalo Billion initiative from Governor Andrew Cuomo realized the potential and role that water could have on economic development. There is large investment in other parts of the region and exponential job growth to go with it, but the visual turnaround of Canalside was a tangible sign of progress. A thriving waterfront is an extremely valuable asset to any region. The waterfront renaissance has increased morale within the community.
This is true in Chautauqua County, as well. Tourism has boomed in the county. The Chautauqua Institution is a cultural and artistic haven, and strategically placed right along the charming Chautauqua Lake. The campus creates an oasis for summer homes or a day-cation. `
Niagara Falls, of course, is the largest example of water attracting tourism and stimulating an economy. The gracefully tumbling water attracts millions of users each year. Using unique and natural assets including the water and surrounding land, a new Niagara Falls USA brand has launched. They’re branding the vacation possibilities with a beautiful new website. The site allows for trip building and maximizing the experience that the American Falls offer. The tagline says it all, “Where Adventure Comes Naturally.”
While the shipment of goods via waterways is no longer reason for Buffalo Niagara’s status, water still plays a large role, both in industry and tourism.