NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The City of Niagara Falls has a new innovative plan to help recent college graduates and give the area's struggling economy a boost.
Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo said, "We want young professionals to live here. We know that especially people coming out of college have higher student debt than ever before."
The Cataract City wants to help pay student loans if the graduates promise to live in specific areas of the Falls for at least two years. Here's how the College Graduate Initiative works: The city will annually reimburse the graduate up to $6,984 during the two-year agreement.
"After the first year, you show us that you are in good standing with your landlord or mortgage company, you're paying your student loan bills, we will reimburse you for the first year, then we'll start the second year," Piccirillo explained.
Applicants will be required to live in a specific district that includes all of Third Street and Fourth Street near Cedar and Main. The city says there are many reasons why young people should want to invest in this area. For one, many of these homes are just blocks away from city attractions.
Piccirillo noted, "City attractions like the casino, the Falls or other little bars and restaurants. It's a plan designed to boost the economy of Niagara Falls."
The city's streets need new life. Take a walk down Third Street and you'll see many empty storefronts. The hope is if more younger people stay, new businesses will come.
Joanna Congi opined, "I think it's a start. That would be a good incentive to have people live and stay in the city."
The city is expected to approve the plan this summer. The city says they have $200,000 in an urban renewal account to pay the first 20 applicants.
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