News last week that Niagara Falls will be losing another 96 jobs as Unifrax moves its corporate headquarters from the Cataract City to North Tonawanda served as yet another grim reminder of a private-sector economy spiraling downward here. The company plans on adding 15 more jobs once the move is completed.
Mayor Paul Dyster, who is generally loquacious when it comes to talking about the number of jobs he's "created," was unavailable for comment.
The truth is that the city has lost hundreds of jobs over the past four years. From large corporations like Unifrax to small mom-and-pop restaurants and taverns, layoffs, closings and moves to nearby communities like Tonawanda and the Town of Niagara, the anti-business attitude of the current administration has taken its toll.
Unemployment in Niagara Falls stands at a shocking 11.8 percent. Statewide, the rate stands at 7.7 percent, and nationally the average is 9.1 percent. Things are tough all over, but not nearly as tough as they are here. Since Dyster took office, Niagara Falls unemployment has nearly doubled.
The per capita income in the city is $18,000, and that includes all of Dyster's $100,000-a-year department heads.
Still, Dyster routed all opposition in September's Democratic Primary as his primary base of support -- those working for some branch of the government or quasi-governmental entities -- turned out in numbers to vote for him.
That's because Dyster's idea of "economic development" consists of massive, taxpayer-funded projects like a new train station, an Underground Railroad interpretive center and a culinary school downtown that will, without question, force some of the city's few remaining restaurants out of business for good.
All of these projects are publicly funded, which means that, for example, a restaurant owner on Pine Avenue gets stuck paying some of the highest taxes in the United States for the privilege of letting Dyster open up a competing eatery downtown.
Jeff Morrow, owner of the fabulous Book Corner on Main Street, gets to subsidize the opening of a Barnes & Noble at the old Rainbow Centre Mall. Will the chain outlet cut into the Book Corner's business? Of course it will, and the venerable institution, in business here since 1926, will take the hit.
Record unemployment combined with the highest taxes in the country are the real legacies of the Dyster administration.
Can you say, "Four more years?"
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Oct. 18, 2011|