Reed Working On Official Designation For Comedy Center

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, talking about his bill in the House of Representatives to make the National Comedy Center in Jamestown the official nationwide center for comedy. Reed’s bill will combine with the one Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has proposed in the U.S. Senate. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A bill to officially designate the National Comedy Center in Jamestown the official center for comedy nationwide will be going through the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Monday, Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, announced that he will be taking up the official designation bill in the House, joining U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s legislation in the U.S. Senate. Reed said he is confident the two bills will be passed before the official grand opening of the National Comedy Center Aug. 1. He said the official designation will show people across the world and nation that Jamestown, the hometown of Lucille Ball, is the place to celebrate comedy.

“It is significant and credible given its location (the birthplace of Lucy),” Reed said. “It recognizes that this is the place (to celebrate comedy) like Cooperstown (is the place to celebrate baseball) or Cleveland for rock and roll.”

Reed, who also toured the national attraction, said he looks forward to visiting the NCC over and over again once it is officially opened. He said it is great to have the NCC in his own backyard.

“It is only right to celebrate it,” he said.

Tom Benson, NCC chairman, said Reed has been instrumental in acquiring federal funding for the NCC project, which completed its $25 million capital campaign in April of 2017. Reed helped NCC officials secure $5 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits and $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce through its Economic Development Administration program.

Benson said with Reed’s bill in the House and Schumer’s in the Senate, having the official designation as the national center for comedy will be a significant step for the NCC.

“Having that approved in both house will be a major milestone for us,” he said.

Greg Edwards, Gebbie Foundation chief executive officer, said the NCC will be an “economic engine” that will change the landscape of Western New York with the expected 114,000 visitors and $23 million annual economic impact. He said state officials have made the NCC the southern anchor for tourism in Western New York, which will improve the economy for local businesses and restaurants.

In March, Schumer, D-N.Y., announced his proposal in the U.S. Senate to have the future national attraction based on the “celebration of comedy” to be the nationally recognized center for comedy.