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'A lot of work to do' in Niagara Falls

Christopher J. Schoepflin, president of USA Niagara Development Corp., the state's economic development agency in Niagara Falls, spoke last Thursday to The Buffalo News Editorial Board about a range of issues that touch on redevelopment of Niagara Falls.

News Publisher Stanford Lipsey, Editorial Page Editor Michael N. Vogel, Niagara Editor Scott Scanlon and Editorial Writer Dawn Bracely asked the questions.

Listen to an extended audio clip of the discussion here:

USA Niagara mostly has focused on the "low-hanging fruit" since it set up in Niagara Falls several years ago, Schoepflin said, pointing to one bigger recent project: the demolition of the Wintergarden and recently completed improvements along Old Falls Street, which now connects Niagara Falls State Park to the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.

The next big project is the Niagara County Community College culinary institute.

Schoepflin said the state has invested roughly $100 million in Niagara Falls during the last decade but that the city easily could use $1 billion or more in new investment during the next couple of decades. He predicted it will be up to private investors from the region to bolster the city economy during the next several years as the national and world economy rebounds from the recession.

"We're at the end of the beginning of the process of turning it around," he said, "but we've still got a lot of work to do."

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