Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 28, 2013

OUR VIEW: NTCC's one-year deal is harmful

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — No matter what line of work you’re in, you most likely have a favorite tool. Something that helps you get your job done right, and if you lost it, you’d be worse off.

For many who work for, operate or own tourism-related businesses in Niagara County, the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation  is that favorite tool. We’re hoping that tool still exists a year from now.

Seven operators of tourism-related businesses last week went to the Niagara County Legislature and offered testimony to the embattled corporation’s excellent service. They were largely ignored, and by a super-majority of Republicans, who purport to be pro-business.

Instead of approving a 10-year extension, the Legislature approved a one-year extension on the county’s funding contract with the NTCC. While perhaps 10 years is too long, why not a ten-year agreement, with a third or fifth year opt-out that must be exercised with a year’s notice, or some other option?

A one-year deal works to the detriment of not only the NTCC but the legislature as well; they’ve kicked the can down the road for another year. Those in the tourism industry also have to put plans on hold because they don’t know who they will be working with a year from now. That hurts them, too.

Funding for NTCC comes from a four percent hotel bed tax collected from the county and its cities. Understandably, most of the funding comes from Niagara Falls.

One of the most vocal critics is Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker, who points to a lack of communication and a failure to to promote certain local businesses. He has a point and the agency’s CEO, John Percy, admits he’s been “remiss” in communicating with stakeholders.

However — as many in the tourism industry will point out — promotional campaigns, bookings and other facets are planned years in advance. A one-year extension doesn’t put much faith in the NTCC, locally or abroad.

Tucker acknowledges that NTCC can do more with Lockport’s “share” of funding than the city itself ever could. Furthermore, Percy has vowed to rectify the situations that led to the one-year trial, instead of a longer deal.

Let’s hope this gets worked out, or else a valuable tool could be replaced by one of lesser quality.