The Niagara Falls Community Development Department is bringing a new generation of engaged youth into the town. The department is currently accepting applications for ‘urban pioneers’, luring them with the promise of paying back a proportion of their student loans. The department wish to establish a community of young professionals that will help stabilise the city’s population. The initiative has been launched due to the problem of population decline.

According to Fast Company, once a city starts to lose a population, there is no proven strategy to cease the mass exit. During the 1950’s the Niagara population was booming with around 100,000 citizens. However it stands at just half that figure today. As well as the obvious consequences, it is also the cut off figure for HUD entitlement funding.

The new solution to the problem is Live NF. Twenty applicants will be reimbursed up to $3492 a year of student loans for two consecutive years to live in the community of downtown Niagara Falls. The first five winners have been announced with fifteen more candidates to be selected. So far the program has received 42 applications and will cost the city $200,000.

Director of community development Seth Piccirillo has been approached by other cities who have found themselves in a similar situation. He however declines citing that the project is still too young to direct others. He also commented:

“If we’re not spending at least part of our day thinking about how to stabilize and grow our population, we’re not doing our jobs.”

Quote sourced from Fast Company.