Development Competition for Downtown Niagara Falls

October 3, 2013 Updated Oct 3, 2013 at 11:42 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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October 3, 2013 Updated Oct 3, 2013 at 11:42 PM EDT

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Niagara Falls, NY

(WKBW)

When it comes to attracting visitors to Niagara Falls government leaders don't have to do much. But keeping tourists busy once they get there is part of a new $40 million initiative.

The city of Niagara Falls attracts nearly eight million visitors a year. That's more than most U.S. national parks and nearly double the amount of visitors to the Grand Canyon, but getting those tourists to stay in Niagara Falls has proven to be a challenge that is sparking a new competition.

The state and the city are now teaming up and committing $20 million each to developers who come up with the best ideas to help transform downtown Niagara Falls with the goal of getting visitors to stay overnight and spend more money in the area.

The state will use money from the Buffalo Billion fund and the city is setting aside casino revenue for the project.

Friday, Lt. Governor Robert Duffy will travel to the Niagara Falls Convention Center to talk about the competition.

A committee made up of state and city officials will ultimately select the finalists.

The call for proposals will be announced in December with responses due in January. Winners will be announced shortly thereafter.