There's no better feeling than hometown pride, and lately, I have been beaming over my native Lockport. Things seem to be really turning around in the tight-knit city in Niagara County. Since I left my childhood home for good in 1987, there have been a lot of changes.
The backbone of the community has always been the General Motors plant. When I was growing up, it was a major employer with 10,000 good paying jobs. The facility has changed hands a few times and now employs more than 2,000 people. I am grateful it's still part of the community, but the drain of jobs really hurt the city and slowly, I began to see the effect. Longtime businesses started closing one by one over the years. Now, it seems there's a resurgence.
Over the past few weeks, there have been several announcements of new projects, like the restoration of the "Flight of Five" locks at the Erie Canal. Then, the long vacant "Twin Fair" building downtown will finally become an ice arena. The community has been without one for years. I remember how sad I felt when I realized the Kenan Center ice rink that we enjoyed growing up didn't have ice anymore.
The community also broke ground on a "Fallen Heroes" memorial, honoring fellow Lockportians who died serving their country or their community. There's also the Ulrich Center that filled a large empty lot in the city's business district, and Lake Effect Ice Cream along the canal is generating a lot of buzz.
There are still many challenges facing this small city, but with a fresh, new approach to revitalization, I know there are going to be more reasons to be proud in the future.