Chinese New Year 2011 was a great Success.. thanks to all of those who attended!

Our Heritage

The history and architecture of Main Street is a reflection of the great history of the City of Niagara Falls. Main Street connects the Falls with Lewiston and areas to the north. It parallels the Niagara Gorge.

In the mid-1800’s, starting at what is now Pine Avenue, Main Street was known as the “Road to Lewiston.” Today, north of Ontario Avenue and the railroad viaduct, it still bears the name, "Lewiston Road." In the mid to late 1800’s, lower Main began at Buffalo Avenue and was called Ontario Street. This area, now known as the “South End,” was first called Manchester and later became the City of Niagara Falls.

Traveling north, the Elmwood and Ashland Avenue area was originally part of a farm owned by Henry W. Clark and became known as Clarksville.

The first bridge built in 1848 by Charles Ellet, spanned the gorge at its narrowest part -the whirlpool rapids. Remains of the abutments of the original bridge can be seen from the existing bridge. The area around the bridge, including what is now Main Street, was first ” It was later named “Suspension Bridge Village.” It wasn't until 1898 when the “Honeymoon Bridge” or “Falls View Bridge” was constructed at the lower or south end of Main Street, that the city had a second bridge to Canada.

As the area along the gorge grew and began to expand east and to the north, so did Main Street. It became a center for commerce for the city's residents and people living in nearby towns and villages. Main Street prospered, as did our great city. The river was harnessed for power that in turn attracted a number of industries to the area. Many well-known companies such as Carborundum and Occidental Chemical Corporation (formerly Hooker Chemical) got its start in this area. Industry brought more people here and Niagara Falls grew. The war effort, and later the building of the Niagara Moses Power Plant helped to sustain the economy.

In the mid-1970’s industry began to look south of the US and many moved from Niagara Falls. Other companies severely cut their production and work force. The population of Niagara Falls and Niagara County decreased dramatically. People moved to the suburbs, shopping malls were built, and one-by-one Main Street businesses were forced to close their doors.

Today there is not only hope for Main Street; there is a plan that has been implemented since 1999. The Plan for the Revitalization of Main Street is a major part of a burgeoning comprehensive strategic plan being developed at press time. This plan promises to bring to our city a new and vibrant Main Street. Restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques, entertainment venues, professional offices and private residences can breathe life back into this once thriving business district.

Main Street and the surrounding area is an eclectic mixture of architecture. From the Neo-Classical Style of City Hall to the Armory’s Romanesque, to the Chicago-inspired style of the former Jenss Department Store, the buildings tell a story to all who will listen. These buildings, for the most part are structurally sound and available for just the right entrepreneur at an affordable price.


Economic Development

Economic DevelopmentOpportunities along the Main Street corridor are vast and enticing. Whether you are looking to build new, rehabilitate an existing structure, or expand on an existing business, the possibilities are endless.

The best way to become familiar with available incentives at all levels of government (City, County, and State) is by contacting our office directly.These are some of the current incentives available for economic development projects along Main Street in Niagara Falls, NY.

The New York State Main Street Program (NYMS)
The purpose of the NYMS Program is to provide financial and technical resources to help communities with their efforts to preserve and revitalize mixed-use (commercial/civic and residential) main street/downtown business districts.

The NYMS Program will provide grants to stimulate reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use business districts located in urban, small town, and rural areas consistent with Articles 16A and 17B of the Private Housing Finance Law (PHFL).

The following activities can be funded in part through the NYMS Program:

Façade Renovation - Matching grants of up to $10,000 per building, but not to exceed 50% of total cost, can be provided to owners for façade renovations.

Building Renovation - Matching grants of up to $50,000 per building, but not to exceed 50% of total cost, can be provided to owners for renovation of commercial/civic space on first floor and residential units above.

Downtown Anchors - Matching grants of up to $100,000 per building, but not exceeding 25% of project cost, can be provided to owners to help establish or expand cultural or business anchors that are identified in a local plan as key to the revitalization effort. Developments that incorporate residential units on the upper floors will receive priority for funding .

Streetscape Enhancement - Grants of up to $25,000 for programs to plant trees and other landscaping, install street furniture and trash cans, provide appropriate signs in accordance with a local signage plan, and other appurtenant activities. Street lighting may be eligible for funding where applicants can satisfy all feasibility issues. A streetscape enhancement grant will only be awarded if it is ancillary to a program providing building renovation or downtown anchor grant

Housing Trust Fund Corporation / New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal
Hampton Plaza, 38-40 State Street, Albany, NY 12207 1-866-275-3427

New York State Empire Zones Program
New York State’s Empire Zone program was created to stimulate economic growth through a variety of State tax incentives designed to attract new businesses to New York State and to enable existing businesses to expand and create more jobs.

Today, there are over 9,800 certified businesses employing more than 380,000 people in 82 Empire Zones statewide. To participate in the Empire Zones Program, a business must first be located in an empire zone, or qualify as a regionally significant project, and become zone certified. To qualify for certification, a business must be able to demonstrate that it will create new jobs and/or make investments in the empire zone and be consistent with the local zone’s development plan, including a cost-benefit analysis.

Eligibility & Certification
To participate in the Empire Zones Program, a business must first be located in an empire zone, or qualify as a regionally significant project, and become zone certified. To qualify for certification, a business must be able to demonstrate that it will create new jobs and/or make investments in the empire zone and be consistent with the local zone’s development plan, including a cost-benefit analysis.

Applications approved by local zone officials are then forwarded to the State for review and approval by the Departments of Economic Development (Empire State Development) and Labor. Contact your local zone coordinator to discuss whether your business qualifies for zone certification. Once a business is certified it is eligible to claim tax credits, subject to requirements and performance based formulas set in Tax Law.

New York State Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide free counseling assistance to current and prospective small business owners through a network of offices conveniently located throughout New York State. Services include assistance with business plan development, loan resource identification, accounting, financial planning, export information, cost analysis, and marketing as well as targeted business training programs.

Entrepreneurial Assistance Program Centers(EAP)
Empire State Development, New York State's economic development agency, has established a network of EAP Centers that provide specialized help to women, minority group members and persons with disabilities who are starting a business or who own a firm in the early stages of business development. Contact 1-800-STATE NY.

Taxes & Incentives
New York State has become the nation's leader in cutting taxes. Nearly all taxes in New York State have been cut, with substantial reductions achieved in business, estate, sales, property and personal income taxes. New York State now has one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the Northeast.

In addition to lower taxes, New York offers a variety of incentives to companies expanding or relocating in the Empire State. These include:

Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Businesses that create new jobs and make new investments in production property and equipment may qualify for tax credits of up to 10% of their eligible investment. New businesses may elect to receive a refund of certain credits, and all unused credits can be carried forward for 15 years.

Research and Development Tax Credit. Investments in research and development facilities are eligible for a 9% corporate tax credit. Additional credits are available to encourage the creation and expansion of emerging technology businesses, including a three-year job creation credit of $1,000 per employee and a capital credit for investments in emerging technologies.

Sales Tax Exemptions. New York State offers exemptions for purchases of production machinery and equipment, research and development property, and fuels/utilities used in manufacturing and R&D. Other exemptions may be available through local Industrial Development Agencies (IDA.) A list of IDAs can be found at

Real Property Tax Abatement. To encourage development, expansion, and improvement of commercial property, a 10-year property tax abatement is available to offset increased assessments due to improvements to business and commercial property.

No Personal Property Tax. Unlike many other states, which tax both real property and personal property, property taxes in New York State are imposed on real property only. Personal property, whether tangible or intangible, is exempt from state and local taxes.


Real Property Tax Abatement Program- 485b
The City of Niagara Falls New York offers real property tax abatement for certain commercial and industrial projects. Any renovations or new construction by EZ businesses is eligible for the 485b tax abatement program: (50%) exemption of real property taxes for the first year on all improvements, increasing by five (5%) per year until the eleventh (11) year, when the property becomes fully taxed.

National Fuel (natural gas supplier)
National Fuel provides a special "Empire Zone Rider" for certified EZ businesses either new or existing business, which meet their necessary qualifications.

Verizon (telecommunications)
Certified Empire Zone businesses are eligible for a five (5%) percent reduction on Intrastate-Intralata phone charges provided by Bell Atlantic. This reduction applies to certified new businesses and existing certified businesses that made a commitment to capital expansion or employment expansion.

Niagara Mohawk (electric supplier)
Niagara Mohawk provides a special "Empire Zone Rider" for certified EZ businesses either new or existing business, which meet their necessary qualifications.

Community Development Block Grant- awarded yearly
This allows local business associations to apply on behalf of their respective districts. CDBG funds allow flexibility in providing programs and services that benefit homeowners, renters, business persons, non-profit organizations and other community based organizations. Focus is to develop viable urban communities by providing decent, affordable housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities for low and moderate income persons.
CDBG funds must 1. Benefit Low and Moderate Income Persons 2. Prevent or eliminate slum or blighted areas 3. Focus on other urgent needs.

Community Renewal Area (Main Street designation)
A Renewal Community is a designation given to a specific targeted area in the City of Niagara Falls. The City as a whole is not an RC. Businesses that qualify and operate in an RC area will be eligible for the following tax incentives:
  • Renewal Community employment credit (both full and part-time employees may qualify)
  • Increased section 179 deduction
  • Commercial revitalization deduction
  • Capital gain exclusion

What is a Renewal Community Employment Credit?
The credit is 15% of the qualified wages paid or incurred during a calendar year. The amount of qualified wages you can use to figure the credit cannot be more than $10,000 for each employee for each calendar year. As a result, the credit can be as much as $1,500 (15% of $10,000) per qualified employee each year.

Empire Zone (Main Street designation for the most part)
Empire Zone is a state sponsored program of economic development incentives to encourage new investment and job creation in designated areas. Tax incentives available:

  • Utilities (such as natural gas, electric, and telecommunications)
  • Wage tax credits
  • Investment tax credits
  • Employment incentive credits
  • Sales tax exemptions
  • Real property tax credit
  • Statewide zone capital corporation loan program

Façade Program Rebate
The City of Niagara Falls currently offers a façade program for local business districts. This allows a business to spend upwards of $20,000 on façade improvements while receiving a $10,000 refund after work is completed.