Incoming Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said the Cataract City needs help, but much of that help will come from its residents.
"As Niagara Falls goes, so goes the rest of the county," said the mayor-elect. "They know it and if they don't, I'm going to remind them."
Speaking to the faith-based Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope in True Bethel Church, Restaino said he will be working for the best long-term life of city residents.
He said some problems can get an early start, like the long-term push for more and better jobs, by applying his push for vocational education as the current president of the Falls school board while looking for year-round jobs that pay better than the needed jobs in tourism.
Restaino said he wants to probe the tourism industry to see who is benefitting.
"These aren't the jobs that are going to give us stability in our families and our households. They're good. They're important. But they're also seasonal," he said. "And so we need to make sure that we're looking at those job opportunities, and they are out there, in today's industries that will give us an opportunity to hand to the next generation those jobs that will allow them to purchase homes, stay in neighborhoods and raise families."
Tourism is a major industry in the city and it is expanding, with new hotels planned.
Asked by an audience member what he would do to make sure developers keep their promises about employment, Restaino said he will hold developers feet to the fire while making sure there are qualified workers from all segments of the city ready for work.
"With a lot of the departments that are here, the agencies that are here, to make sure that our residents are trained and ready," said the mayor-elect. "If we have a workforce here that's ready to go, I assure you that these developers like nothing more than to have their employees as close to the place that they work as possible. So it will be easy for them to see talented people as their employees," he said.
Restaino said his office will move fast when there are job opportunities on offer. If there isn't quick action, he said, someone else will take those jobs.
NOAH President Jesse Scott said there are a lot of issues for the mayor to deal with and the community at large to work against.
"Even our prison system, sometimes out-of-school kids are channeled right to prison, and also daycare issues. We've got a lot of poverty issues in our city," Scott said. "So not one in particular. It's a whole group of things that we are needing. We have a great poverty situation. A lot of mental health issues in our area."
Restaino said more and better jobs will deal with many of the city's problems.