I'm proud of what we've done with our small share of casino money. We've used it to transform our city. If the State of New York fails to reach an agreement soon with the Seneca Nation to restore the flow of casino revenues, it will have a chilling effect on economic development and the quality of life in the City of Niagara Falls, and will endanger economic recovery in the City and surrounding region.
Tonight I appeal to our friends in the Governor's office and in the Seneca Nation of Indians to get the job done and get our casino money flowing again, by whatever means necessary.
And while we're at it, let's follow Governor Cuomo's lead and adopt a truly regional approach to economic development. Governor Cuomo had the vision and courage to challenge our region to think "outside the box" about our economic future. We pledge we'll do all we can to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, develop export-oriented industries, and contribute to the well-being of the region and state in every way we can. We're going to work to streamline the planning approval process by working toward a new intermunicipal agreement to eliminate the need for duplicative county approvals that can add a month to the process.
Why not consider consolidating the Niagara and Erie County Industrial Development Agencies to create a one-stop center for those who want to invest here? And we stand ready to participate in a regional Landbank along with neighboring communities. We've had enough of competing against ourselves—it's time for our region to collaborate with each other so we can truly compete against the rest of the nation and, more importantly, the rest of the world.
A key part of our competitiveness is to keep and build upon the assets we currently have. One of those is the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Rest assured, I will work with our federal delegation to do everything possible to keep those 850 Air National Guard jobs right here in our community, and to make our base too strong to close in any future BRAC round.
We also have to finish construction on our new train station and our Underground Railroad Interpretive Center. And as those facilities come on line, we have to make sure they become a catalyst for the growth of north Main Street. I look forward to working with the urban innovators involved with the Main Street Business and Professional Association to do just that.
We have to develop a long-term strategy for revitalizing our housing stock and creating new homesteading opportunities in key neighborhoods. Nothing is more important to our future economic development. That's why I'm pleased tonight to announce the appointment of Seth Piccirillo to serve as our new director of Community Development.
We also have to re-imagine our libraries. We've created a family-friendly computer lab and a children's learning garden at the main library, and we've installed air conditioning, new windows and a new roof at the LaSalle branch, along with a new librarian. But that's only the beginning. Across the country, libraries are shifting from quiet repositories of print materials into creative, digital communities for arts and culture. Working with the library board of trustees and our energetic new library director, Michelle Petrazzoulo, we will do the same here in Niagara Falls.
Yes, the opportunities are endless, and we're going to capitalize on them. The time has come to make big moves that will transform our city into a community of choice for residents and businesses alike.
Last year, the people of Niagara Falls broke the chain of one-term mayors and chose to continue on the course that my administration has charted. The voters seemed to recognize that it's okay to admit we're on the right track.
I interpreted the election as more than a celebration of what we've already accomplished. I don't believe that a single voter supported me in the hope that I would put my feet up and relax for the next four years. No; the election was a call to keep moving forward; to embrace the change that has come to Niagara Falls and speed it up so that we can truly shift the community into fast forward.
Tonight I remind you that no one person can do this job alone. To use a shopworn phrase, it takes a village. It takes strong department heads. It takes dedicated employees and the unions they belong to. It takes positive city council members and cooperative federal and state representatives. It takes volunteers and neighborhood activists. It takes entrepreneurs, from those with vast reserves of capital to those with a little money, a lot of sweat equity, and a great big dream. It takes laborers and retirees, children and families, schools and nonprofit organizations, artists and athletes, media organizations and business groups.
It takes a willingness to move beyond our own individual interests and work for the common good—a dogged belief that things can get better, and the resolve to make it happen. Remembering the words of FDR I cited earlier, it takes a positive mindset that rejects the reflex to respond to new ideas with negative thoughts.
Niagara Falls is on its way back. We're ready for our close-up. Our biggest obstacle is the pessimism that came from years of hopelessness. We can be a great city again—but we have to believe we deserve it. We can't expect outsiders to believe in us if we don't believe in ourselves.
Are YOU ready to believe again?
More than 100 years ago, a well-known man opened the morning paper and saw his own obituary. The editors had run it by mistake, and it caught the man off guard. He was filled with regret when he saw the headline: "Dynamite king dies." And he became even more depressed when he saw himself described as a "merchant of death." He asked himself, "Is this how I am going to be remembered?"
At that point, Alfred Nobel decided he wanted to be known as a man of peace. And today, when we hear the name Nobel, what we think of first is peace, as in the "Nobel Peace Prize."
Nobel didn't want to be remembered as a war profiteer. We don't want to be remembered as a people who fought amongst themselves, were afraid to innovate, and could only dwell on the negative, do we? That's not how I want to be remembered.
How DO we want future generations to think of us? We want to be remembered as the ones who had a big vision, worked together to make it a reality, always made certain we "tried something,"
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