The 9,300 job are base on full build-out 20 years from now, ths is pure fantasy. Acording to the town's consultants full build-out will most likely never happen. Job estimates and all related numbers should be based on Phase one of the project. Mark Masse would need to be a modern day Nostradamus for these numbers to be of any value.
One phase of planning done, now GCEDC to seek Alabama approval of STAMP project
Submitted by Howard Owens on January 27, 2012 - 1:22am
The next phase in seeking approval for a 1,200-acre high-tech industrial complex in the Town of Alabama is to sell it to the town board.
And by sell, we mean, offer incentives attractive enough to please residents and for the board to approve a change in zoning for the land that Genesee Economic Devlopment Center officials hope to turn into a lucrative and bustling complex employing 9,300 people.
Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCEDC, said negotiations are starting on the incentive package with the town and they will include financial assistance with the needs of the town to accommodate the project as well as possible cash grants for a "community chest" (money that can be spent on whatever the town board decides to spend it on).
Information on the final Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the project known as STAMP (Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park) was presented Thursday night to about 100 area residents at the Alabama Fire Hall.
With the GEIS done, the town board will be given an opportunity wthin the next month or so to either green light the project or not.
Prior to the vote, GCEDC officials will try to come up with a package of incentives that might help sway town residents and the board to support the project.
Once the incentives are hammered out, there will be a public meeting where the package will be presented and the public will be given a chance to comment on the proposal.
Attorney Adam S. Walters (top inset photo), representing GCEDC, said if the town board doesn't approve the zoning change for STAMP, the project is dead.
One audience member pressed Walters on whether GCEDC or anybody else could sue the town if it doesn't change the zoning to GCEDC's liking. Walters said he knew of no legal grounds to support such a suit and the town's attorney, Mark Boylan, nodded in agreement.
The time is ripe, according to Masse for the town to approve the project. He indicated there is a company that is looking to build a million-square-foot high-tech manufacturing facility. The company will be ready to start its site selection process in 2014.
Asked if it was a foreign company, Masse said, "It's American."
No company, especially one looking at building a million-square-foot facility, will even consider a site that doesn't already have zoning approval, Masse said, since such approvals take so long to get.
Earlier, town Planning Board Member Lorna Klotzbach (inset photo below) expressed concern that, the way the plan is written out, the entire 1,200 acres could just fill up with a lot of small companies.
"If this site is allowed to be gobbled up by a database company here, a retail store there, a warehouse over here -- what's the chance that a big anchor company is going to want to come in if all of these other uses take up all the space?" Klotzbach asked.
Walters said that, as a practical matter, that isn't going to happen.
The big anchor tenant is needed first so the infrastructure can be built to support all of the smaller tenants that will help fill out the park and provide support services to the large tenants.
"The concept is to form the park around high tech manufacturing," Walters said. "That's the goal of this project and to do it in a way that makes sense. What keeps a Tim Horton's or a couple of warehouses from coming in first is the dollars necessary for the infrastructure. The smaller projects can't afford it.
"The plan calls for a million-square-feet high-tech manufacturer in phase one," Walters added. "If you don't have that, you don't have the money to put in the infrastructure to make any of the other stuff happen."
Until then, Masse and Walters explained, the arable land within the park's proposed footprint will still be farmed and the people living in houses will still live in their houses.
In fact, soon-to-be-former Village of Oakfield resident Joseph Bradt (bottom inset photo) expressed a unique concern about what will happen to residents living within the STAMP area.
Bradt said he recently bought a home in Alabama in order to move his family out of the village.
Pointing at the site plan on the projector screen, Bradt said, "My house is off the map and I haven’t even moved in yet."
Masse said that until a portion of the park is needed for a new tenant, no offers to buy out residential homes will be made, and when they are made, the offers will be at fair market value or or just above assessed value.
Ask if eminent domain would be used to remove people from their homes if they didn't want to sell, Masse said, "no."
"If you don't want to sell you're property, we'll figure out how design around it or if we can move the project to another part of the park," Masse said.
As for Brandt, Masse said it could be up to 20 years before it's time to try and buy him out of his house.
The final GEIS addresses at least some of the concerns raised by residents over the past couple of years.
Regarding the John White Wildlife Management Area, that's been completely removed from the site plan and won't be developed.
Regarding lost agricultural land, the crop land that will displaced represents only .65 percent of the 148,584 acres of farmland in Genesee County and only .23 percent of the total prime farmland.
There are also at least 17 possible farm-protection strategies for the town board to consider to protect the remaining farmland. Some of them, according to Walters, are very expensive. Some, such as rezoning, cost nothing.
On wetlands mitigation, the footprint of the building space was reconfigured to protect more of the wetlands within the park. One of the early plans would have destroyed 69 of 106 acres of wetlands within the park area. The new plan protects all but 10 acres of the land.
The acres protected will be enhanced and restored.
"Many of those wetlands are not in great shape today, and without this project, they would be subject to further degradation," said Roger Person, the consultant heading up the environmental review process.
The report also deals with impacts on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and traffic flow.
Officials are working with representatives of Tonawanda to minimize impacts and while traffic will increase in areas, some of the proposed improvements to roadways and intersections will bring relief to some traffic flow problems already present in Alabama, Person said.
When a member of the public expressed concern that if the zoning change were approved, what would stop developers from doing something different than what residents are being told now would happen?
Walters explained that the way the process works, the final GEIS acts as a box. The box contains everything that is currently permissible within the STAMP project area.
"If a proposal comes along that doesn’t fit inside that box, it requires a supplemental analysis and perhaps a supplemental environmental impact study," Walters said. "Everything has to fit within the box."
Ask if eminent domain would be used to remove people from their homes if they didn't want to sell, Masse said, "no.".......Don't believe it...If you are the only house or piece of property holding this thing up they will come in and take in the name of progress......Sounds like the GCEDC will tell these people anything they want to hear.....I agree with Donald....they can't see 20 years into the future..9300 jobs is fantasy...How much in tax break is this going to cost ....
Prior to the vote, GCEDC officials will try to come up with a package of incentives that might help sway town residents and the board to support the project...Its called buying votes............
"Prior to the vote, GCEDC officials will try to come up with a package of incentives that might help sway town residents and the board to support the project."
Also known as the process by which the GCEDC bribes Alabama officials with other people's tax dollars.There was a time when this process could have been accomplished by conveniently forgetting a duffel bag full of cash at a Councilman's house. Now you have to have public negotiations.
I sort of like the STAMP project in theory, but as Donald pointed out above, the job creation numbers they should be using should really be the Phase 1 numbers. The Phase 1 forecast gives the Alabama Town Board the best opportunity to make a decision based on immediate impact/benefits/drawbacks to the town.
Although I joked about it, I believe it is absolutely necessary that something be done to assist the Town of Alabama and its residents with the unavoidable problems that accompany a project of this size. There will be issues with infrastructure, water supply, sewer service, electric/gas supply. The town will have to expand its fire department and, if homes and support businesses start cropping up in there will be a need for increased patrols from the Sheriff's department.
All or most of those things will have to be funded by public dollars which I don't particularly mind since I believe in the vision of this particular project. Western New York is a perfect destination for this sort of industry because of, believe it or not, our weather. Microprocessor plants, server farms and manufacturers that serve the computer industry generate a lot of heat and cooling them down can cost a company millions of dollars. Because of this, they like to build manufacturing facilities in climates like ours where they can take advantage of cold winters, mild summers and a good deal of open space to save money.
The other thing I like about the STAMP project is that we're not talking about the GCEDC's typical track record of helping to create minimum wage hotel desk clerk jobs. The majority of local people employed by the types of companies that will inhabit this park will make a solid middle-class salary or better. These are skill jobs that require the sort of education and training that land you a solid paycheck. The day I learned that the GCEDC had created a low cost training program specific to this industry at GCC for local people was the day I decided to fully support STAMP. Companies that come here won't have to import labor from around the country because we have already taken steps to ensure that there will be a qualified labor pool right here.
Although I wish they wouldn't weigh job numbers projected over 20 years so heavily when making a decision that has such an enormous effect right now, I don't want to simply dismiss the long term possibilities either. 20 years from now, my daughter should be graduating from college. Even if STAMP's performance is fair to middling by then, there is a fair expectation that other industry will have grown up around it. Companies in the park, related industry and businesses in the surrounding community that support the labor force might just give my kid a reason to stay in the area. This is important not just because I want my family to be close to me, but because the worst affliction our region has is Brain Drain. We send our kids to college to become doctors and lawyers, computer engineers and MBA's then they move across the country in order to start a career because there are no opportunities for them here. There isn't a quick fix for Brain Drain. If we want to stop hemorrhaging educated children from our region a 20 year plan to develop skill jobs may be just the prescription.
I would be more interested in a 3-5 year plan, with an almost guaranteed outcome. Same with project wave. Don't let the big bonuses these people gave themselves go to waste.
The STAMP project is a fine idea in an of itself, but I question the geography. In a region with two rusting mid-size cities and dozens of hollowed-out villages, why do we want to develop new manufacturing operations in a major agricultural area? Genesee County is an agricultural powerhouse and the land is our most valuable resource. The GCEDC says that STAMP will only remove .65-percent of the county's total cropland (.23-percent prime), but I wonder why any of this valuable land needs to be used at all; there are literally hundreds of brownfields plots (former industrial sites that were polluted but available for remediation and reuse) around our region that could host high-tech manufacturing without destroying agricultural land. And with the developments still occurring within the region, those nine-thousand-plus jobs would be within reach of Genesee County residents.
I think if we just thought on a regional level we could accomodate high-tech manufacturing without sacrficing any of our rural agricultural presence.
Great link. Hope people read it.
Here's how I look at it, Gabor. Short term job creation sounds great, but it's the type of jobs rather than the bulk that can really make a difference in an economically depressed area like Western New York.
Our unemployment rate hovers between eight and nine percent and our median household income is ~33,000/year. When you have a sustained, high unemployment rate the median income levels will drop due to a labor force willing to work for less and a business community happy to take advantage of the glut of applicants. Short term job creation (in our case yogurt and other food processing jobs) will help a little, but the majority of jobs created won't pay much more than $20,000/year. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't really address the issue of regional economic depression because it doesn't create a citizenry with disposable income, just one that can finally afford to keep the lights on.
A labor force with disposable income is the cure to most economic ills, but for that to happen the middle-class and upper middle-class has to be strong. That's where these STAMP project jobs eventually do some good.
Show me even half of the jobs that STAMP is promising over 20 years at $50,000/ year and we're talking about $250 MILLION dollars being spent annually by employed adults in our region. People buying houses, starting families, paying taxes and buying useless shit they don't need. Then take into account the support businesses (restaurants, shops, gas stations etc...) that are always a byproduct of increased wealth or population as well as those yogurt and food processing jobs and you end up with a functioning, well layered economy that benefits just about everyone it touches.
If STAMP actually meets its projection of 9,300 jobs at $60,000/year, we're talking about $558 MILLION dollars annually moving through Genesee County in one form or another.
What the long term vision of STAMP is offering us is the opportunity to be the home to that elusive, middle-class, skilled manufacturing job that doesn't seem to exist in America anymore and many an economist will tell you that the dearth of this type of job is part and parcel the reason we can't light a fire under our struggling economy.
Let's not race to hate everything the GCEDC does just because we're angry about one individual's compensation. I promise I'm pissed off about that enough for all of us.
The GCEDC is a tool, and just like any tool, if it is used properly it can accomplish some pretty incredible things. In this instance, the tool is doing exactly what it's designed to do and I'm happy about that.
Howard i read that article.....I don't think any american should have to work like this........
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”....
Howard, I did not hear Mark Masse say "assessed value" last night when responding to Mr. Brandt (sic) when he asked about his missing house. Mark Masse said, "...at fair market value or a little bit more..." in repsonse to the pricing question.
As I explained last night, there was discussion of this issue at an Alabama Town Council meeting. A resident asked the town supervisor, Mr. Mangino, about home values and he asked Mr. Masse, who gave the same answer he did last night. The Alabama Town attorney, Mr. Boylan, suggested that the homeowners be paid at "industrial site rates," which are reputed to be ~$80,000 per acre in some GCEDC sites. Mr. Masse shook his head vigorously and suggested that "residential rates" would be more likely. A short but lively discussion followed after which Mr. Masse said he would check on the plan and get back to town officials.
It will be crucial to homeowners how they are paid for their homes because there is no way that those people within the STAMP footprint will be allowed to keep their homes if they stand in the way of a large multinational company.
"Fair market residential value" will change depending on whether a buyer thinks is it an advantage to be a close neighbor to an industrial plant. Will it be "fair market value" before the town/county approve an industrial site, or after? Will it be at "residential rates" for land surrounded by open spaces conducive to wildlife and outdoor recreation? Will it be at "residential rates" for land that has its well and septic systems condemned bc of their proximity to an industrial site?
Last night, I did not ever hear Mr. Masse say "assessed value" nor make mention of WHEN in the process that assessment would take place and be used as a reference point to pay homeowners.
Mr. Burger, your insight into the "green issue" is on target. I have listened to at least 30 presentations by GCEDC personnel. They have always promoted this as a "green" project.
How can it be "green" if they have to take land that is NOT "empty" but rather being used as farmland and existing as wildlife habitat? How can it be "green" or even financially wise to use tax dollars to install huge water, gas, electric, sewer, drainage lines to an agricultural/wetland site, when there are many empty industrial sites that already have that infrastructure?
People are so eager to believe these theoretical figures from a "generic" environmental impact study that they don't even count the cost in tax dollars to duplicate infrastructure and leave those existing brown sites idle.
The politicians and news reporters who have endorsed this project have either not ever been to a STAMP meeting, or have breezed in only occasionally. They need to talk to the few die-hards who started out interested, attended the 16 meetings Mr. Pearson mentioned last night along with hearing monthly updates at the town council meetings for the past 5 years! Now, having begun to see the holes in the emperor's new clothes, some of us have become very, very wary and cautious!
Mr. Charvella, I appreciate your enthusiasm for our area and I share it! However, at no time during my many, many hearings of the GCEDC presentations have I heard them promise 9300 jobs at $60,000 each! Even Steve Hyde at his most enthusiastic has never been that optimistic. They have promised many jobs at a range of salaries, the majority below $60,000.
They have also never promised any hiring preferences being given to Alabama or Genesee County residents. In fact, in the early meetings when hopeful residents often asked about such preferences, Mr. Hyde would seem to avoid aswsering for as long as possible, and then, admit that there would be no such preferences given.
At a STAMP meeting last year, a Mr. Spink in the audience, identified himself as a downsized Kodak worker who was currently in workforce development. He maintained that Genesee County has very few residents who are trained for the highest paying STAMP jobs, should they actually emerge.
Last night, a Mr. Wyder again asked about hiring preferences being given to ALabama residents, who will, after all be losing their current rural way of life if the STAMP project "succeeds." Mr. Wyder pointed out that, while the GCEDC certainly couldn't "force companies to hire local residents," (Mr. Masse) they could certainly give these companies incentives to do so! You know, like a bonus or something....
Lorna, can you please cite any reporter anywhere who has "endorsed" the STAMP project? How did you come to that conclusion?
Howard, of course the GCEDC and STAMP will not use eminent domain. I did not say nor imply that they would. However, if that "concept drawing" is in anyway a realistic view of what they expect to build on the STAMP site, those homes can not remain. Those homes do not exist on that drawing. The STAMP designers do not want those homes to exist on that site.
It is certainly not a moot point about how the homes will be appraised and paid for. People put their money and their dreams into their homes and will have to find a way to replace them if they are "negotiated" out of them.
Great pressure will come upon those home owners if a real tenant shows real interest in the site. Let's see, what tactics could be used to convince them to get out? What tactics have I actually seen used on other homeowners?
They could condemn the wells, in the interest of health and safety, and the health department could insist upon an expensive alternate water supply. They can condemn the septic systems, in the interest of health and safety, and say that a prohibitively expensive alternative must be constructed. They can withdraw the certificates of occupancy. They could turn every inch of visible space around the homes into parking lots. They could put a truck warehouse on each side. They could convince the municipalities to issue building permits and surround the homes with large factories, of course made of high quality materials as the GEIS envisions but does not require.
There are many, many tactics that can be used, none of which will be eminent domain. I am certain that a novice like I am hasn't even begun to imagine what a government agency, in partnership with a well-funded corporation, could do to pressue a reluctant homeowner. Of course, if the committment of the GCEDC is only to pay "fair market value" with no restriction on when that value is calculated, fair market value could become pretty darn low.
Many of the people who live within the footprint of STAMP do so because they wanted very much to do so. A simple dangling of cash in their faces may not be enough to make them go away cheerfully.
I have said since the GCEDC first approached the Alabama town officials with this project:
Be honest about what you are proposing and up front about the fact that Alabama will not, can not remain a rural, open-spaced small town place friendly to farming, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, four-wheeling and companion animals.
Be honest that the STAMP project will bring higher taxes, more regulation, denser population, higher suburban service costs,an influx of non-rural people and their values.
Be honest about all of that and then let the people of Alabama decide it they want it or not. It is the deception and dishonesty of their evaluation of the consequences of STAMP that I resent and keep insisting that they change.
The STAMP project may bring many things that many people enjoy, but it will most certainly destroy the rural character of Alabama. That is the issue that should be acknowledged by the GCEDC, our politicians who are funneling tax money into it and the STAMP designers. That is the issue that the Councilmen of Alabama should be voting on.
Billie, I have been to dozens of STAMP presentations, meetings and public hearings. I have observed reporters from The Bataivan and The Daily News at these same sessions. The "endorsement" I perceive may be a tacit one, but I think it is there on the reporters' parts both media. When I have read their accounts of the STAMP sessions, it was if we had been at different meetings! For example, I sat in the South Alabama Fire Hall, with all of the seats full, folks standing along the back wall and the comments running 25 to 1 in oppostition to the STAMP project. The published accounts of that meeting didn't include those negative sentiments, and in fact read like a GCEDC press release. I don't mind if the local media endorse the STAMP project. I just want them to be up front about it and acknowledge their bias if they have one. Bias isn't bad if it is acknowledged, so I don't mean any insult or accusation by my earlier comment.
Howard i took that quote out of the nytimes story you linked to..So i just assumed you agreed with every thing in it...Lorna great points,since this concerns you and your neighbors...I have no problem with any big corporation coming here .They shouldn't be doing it on the backs of the taxpayers...Did the GCEDC think that just maybe the people who live in that area do so because they like the quite rural lifestyle. The rights of the citizens should be the first priority...GDCEC thinks that they can just steam roll this thing ..How much will a house be worth after this project is started .....I say less than it is now ..So to say they will give you assessed value for your house means they will probably get it cheaper than it is worth at this time...Who is going to pay for all this new infrastructure that will be needed to be built...Will it be another taxpayer funded program...You live in the county because you don't want to be in a city with factories all around you....Is there no other spot in Genesse county for this park to go..Why not fill up the ones they allready have....I have heard from others in Alabama who are totally against it....But no one seems to report that part..To me, as all know i don't personally trust anything that GCEDC does..Its all about governement money that they use and then give them selves a big fat bonus...... If this is such a great thing why isn't there private developers with private money doing these projects.. Cmon Howard you are a big Ron Paul fan..Do you think he would think that this is the role of government to buy up peoples houses and farmland..When they are not for this........I still have not seen my county tax go down with all these new companys that have been coming here...
I have been a life long resident of Alabama. I love living in a rural town. I have not gone to any of the STAMP meetings. I do appreciate reading the articles and comments on the Batavian. The comments are thought provoking and help me to look at different views. At first my husband and I were for the STAMP project but the more I read and our thoughts are spinning trying to envision this project the more we become disinclined to support it. I really have a hard time understanding why did they chose Alabama when there are so many more "brown sites". Alabama has no water and no sewer. As I see what lies ahead is the roads to nowhere. If we are trying to be such a green country why not develop sites that have been sitting vacant for many years. Do they choose Genesee County because they know the workforce is starved for work and will work for minimum wage jobs. Another thing that peeves me is Alabama does need water. How come my tax dollars can support this project, but the Town has to find its own grant money for water. Politics and Government gives me a headache.
Thank you for your comments
A great deal depends on how well the developers and the community can work together to make this project a win/win for all involved.
I've seen the best and the worst.
One of the best. Elkhart, Indiana. This county developed it's farm land into the RV manufacturing capital of the U.S. The manufacture of RVs requires what they call "accessory" business that all come together in one location. Those accessories are placed in the area because they feed into the completed product. All of which require skilled and unskilled workers. The Elkhart/Goshen area managed to maintain the rural footprint.
One of the worst. Campbell, California. Campbell was about the size of Oakfield, and like Oakfield it had food processing plants. When it became part of Silicon Valley, the developers swallowed up all of the available farmland. The only reminder of it's past is a shopping mall; a corporate office complex; and a hotel that all have the word, "Prune Yard" in their name - a reference to the prune packing plant.
The population has mushroomed to 37,000 people. Imagine 37,000 people in an area the size of Oakfield! It is one apartment complex after another.
One that had both good and bad is Great Valley, Pennsylvania. Great Valley Corporate Center was built on farmland. It retained a rural look, but the infrastructure is dismal and not well planned. The housing developments built around the corporate center has very expensive homes but the developer cut down EVERY tree to utilize every available space for homes.
Of those three, the RV manufacturing seems to be the one that really brought jobs to the local communities. The other two were fed by large corporations transferring their own people into the area. The only real jobs for locals were support positions.
The STAMP project has the opportunity to be one of the best or one of the worst.
As far as employment is concerned, they have to be up front about the jobs available to the surrounding communities. From what I can gather, many of these jobs are assembly line work. Those jobs will be at minimum wage or just a bit higher.
The STAMP project could be an asset to Alabama if it works with the citizens to make it part of the community. The developers should be acutely aware of the surroundings and what they are taking away from the community They should be talking about civic responsibility as an added value. What added value will they bring to Alabama and Genesee Co.?
I'm all for progress. I look out at the former Wiard Plow and Massey plants and think that those businesses could be part of an exciting high tech complex in Batavia. No farmland destroyed; infrastructure in place; and a central location easily accessed.
One could assume businesses that might attach themselves to this project would prefer clean slate (greenspace) to retrofit (brownspace). And one might also assume that the role of inertia affecting this project would vary between Batavia and Alabama.
C.M. you have a valid point.
However, the reality is that greenspace is not renewable. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.
Retrofit in an area already designated for manufacturing doesn't have to mean putting the business in existing buildings. Clear the area of the buildings, give them the clean slate they require. There are acres of land just waiting to be used here in the city.
Ms. Klotzbach, I've been to the meetings as well and I have heard 9,300 jobs at a $60,000/ year average. As a matter of fact, I probably have it on a voice recorder tape somewhere at home.
You see, I'm not some armchair opinionaire. I've been interested in and following STAMP for the better part of three years, ever since I decided to take a run at a Legislature seat in 2009. For those three years I've been looking for reasons to hate this project because, like Mr. Potwora, I have a base distrust for the GCEDC in general and I despise their bonus practices specifically.
I find the gentleman from the architectural firm (Pearson I think) to be particularly irritating and condescending. I've thought on more than one occasion that leadership from different facets of the project are under-informed and unconcerned with some of the real issues that face the people like you who currently live in Alabama.
After very careful consideration of the risks and benefits of the STAMP project and after working very hard to put aside my personal bias against the GCEDC, their practices and their past failures, I arrived at the conclusion that this is a project worth supporting and I outlined the why in my posts above.
Our region, not just Genesee County but Western New York as a whole, is at a crossroads. Year after year we send away the best we have to offer from the upcoming generation. There is no opportunity here, no chance for advancement. We watch businesses close and we complain about the state of things as our unemployment rate rises. Daily living costs us more and more while the jobs that pay enough to put food on our tables disappear and are replaced with minimum wage retail jobs that former members of the middle class have to take in order to keep paying the mortgage on a house while its value degrades. Independent businesses are closing, chains are taking over and the people of Western New York complain loudly about the state of things while fighting against any legitimate opportunity to change for the better.
The main argument that the citizens of Alabama have against STAMP is that it's IN ALABAMA. If the thing was being developed in Piffard or Carlton almost none of you would give this thing a second thought. The Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) argument is always difficult to debunk because it's full of personal feelings, personal fears and personal grudges. Sure, your rural way of life may be at some small risk, but your grand kids won't care how hard you fought for it when they're moving to North Carolina or Texas after college because there is nothing to keep them here except that rural way of life and a cashier job at Wal-Mart.
Western New York has been bleeding for decades not because of high taxes, but because of a constantly weakening middle-class. High taxes are a symptom of the disease and just a part of the vicious cycle of a bad economy that looks something like this:
Fewer Solid Middle Class Jobs==>Less Disposable Income==>Weakening Local Independent Business Economy==>Smaller Tax Base==Higher Tax Rates To Maintain Basic Services==>Difficulty Attracting Businesses That Create Good Jobs==>Decline In Qualified/Educated Work Force That Attracts Business Investment==>Fewer Solid Middle Class Jobs==>Less Disposable Income==>Weakening Local Independent Business Economy==>Smaller Tax Base==Higher Tax Rates To Maintain Basic Services==>Difficulty Attracting Businesses That Create Good Jobs==>Decline In Qualified/Educated Work Force That Attracts Business Investment==>Fewer Solid Middle Class Jobs==>Less Disposable Income==>Weakening Local Independent Business Economy==>Smaller Tax Base==Higher Tax Rates To Maintain Basic Services==>Difficulty Attracting Businesses That Create Good Jobs==>Decline In Qualified/Educated Work Force That Attracts Business Investment==>Fewer Solid Middle Class Jobs==>Less Disposable Income==>Weakening Local Independent Business Economy==>Smaller Tax Base==Higher Tax Rates To Maintain Basic Services==>Difficulty Attracting Businesses That Create Good Jobs==>Decline In Qualified/Educated Work Force That Attracts Business Investment==>Ad Infinitum...
Decline has become a Western New York state of mind so now we are inclined to hoard whatever crumbs we think we can keep while fighting off anyone who offers us a loaf of bread in trade.
Stop it. For God's sake, just stop it. Why do we choose to wrap our own chains around the necks of our neighbors so we can drown just a little less slowly when we could choose to swim together instead?
nice post Chris....
Chris, we could swim together as a region if we looked to preserve valuable agriculture lands and rural lifestyles by focusing industrial development in places that are already suited for it - namely, on one of the hundreds of brownfields sites that surround our mid-sized cities. A successful Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, or even Batavia is good for everyone.
I completely agree with you that the STAMP project and its attendant educational programs to develop a viable workforce is desperately needed; I just don't think that its location in Alabama is.
I agree, Brandon.
Batavia, is well suited for any manufacturing project. Products are still shipped by rail. We have the rail line in place. We are close to the interstate; and are the hub of the wheel that takes people from all corners of WNY through here.
Chris is on the right track; C.M. is on the right track; everyone, it seems, has an opinion that may bring WNY back...now it is a matter of just jelling them together.
If this STAMP project was located someplace else, many would bitch that we should have tried to get here. You just can't win.
Bea, I make no value judgment; only citing the obvious. Either suggested assumption, if true, could be cynically (or not) exploited. I would like to believe the end result will resemble Chris Charvella's best scenario as opposed to, say, Campbell, California. The key ingredient is Alabama/Genesee residents maintaining active involvement in shaping outcome of this project.
I have to agree with many of the comments on here. Why not retro fit some old industrial areas instead of building all new in an area that has never been industrial. There is plenty of open space in western NY, heck in the city limits of Buffalo for cryin' out loud. I'll bet there'd be some serious incentives for building there. It's pretty easy to commute. I'm not against progress, this just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
I heartily agree; preservation/restoration/development of existing architecture should be a priority- especially when alternatives deplete agricultural/greenspace. Unfortunately, the prerogative of industry tends to lean otherwise. ...Not sure if residents of Genesee County are following the Monroe County preservationists Vs. Genesee Brewery (AKA: North American Breweries). The odd part of their situation, the brewery intends to incorporate a visitor center/brewing museum as part of its new development. Why wouldn't an actual century-old brewing facility marry into that plan?
What is the whole idea behind zoning.....You buy in an area that is zoned residential or agricultural..And then later down the line someone comes in and tries to change it to industrial...If this is such a great project for the area then there must be other places it can be set up,where as you don't have to ruin wetlands or uproot people from their homes or take out good productive farm land.....Lets face it until they come up with a legit business to set up shop here it is all a moot point ..plus GCEDC has never said what has to be offered in the way of tax breaks and sales tax exemptions to make this work ,not to mention the cost to the tax payer for a water and sewer system..Look at the project in Batavia,they allready are looking to the USDA for money for sewer pipes.They make it all sound so rosy ,when in reality they don't even have all the financing in place to do this project..They are not trustworthy ..They like to feed people half truths and worry about the rest later....It all sounds good on paper..All one has to do is look at all the parks they have started and not finished...One other side note....For a company to come here its about the cost of labor,and how cheap the utilities will be.....Company's don't move to China or Mexico to make their goods because the work force is so much more educated then those in the US..It all about labor cost..I saw many jobs leave this area and is was about labor costs and government regulations.. ..We have a very productive work force in the US,only problem is they want to be paid as such...Look at all those workers who have lost their jobs and Kodak ,they are some of the most highly trained in the world .We have workers from Xerox,Boush and Lomb,and General Motors to name a few....All highly skilled looking for work...So lets not say the reason no company's comes here is because we aren't skilled enough.....Taxation,regulation,and the cost of Labor...
That was a cheap shot, Howard. I have diligently sat through dozens of GCEDC STAMP presentations from the very beginning. I have heard them in the town hall, in the fire hall, at my place of employment which is a public school, and in Saratoga Springs and its surrounding town of Malta. I have read the documents and worked to understand them and to evaluate the validity of their projections.
I make my living on the tax-payer dollar. I feel obligated to the tax-payers of the area to give good value for their money. I want the GCEDC, the state and national officials to do the same thing. It does not make economic or moral sense to use farmland in a town with over 50% of its land already off the tax roles for an industrial park.
All of the infrastructure will be created, and then, maintained by tax-payer dollars. We already have, within easy driving distances, empty industrial parks in Buffalo and Rochester that already have all of the infrastructure in place. No more tax dollars needed.
Genesee County could do what it does well: grow and support and process wholesome, healthful regional groceries for all of the people who could work in existing industrial parks. Many good jobs would be created and preserved--no tax-payer dollars required. Working folks could keep their money.
Cheap shot, inaccurately aimed, and not worthy of you.
Howard i don't want to speak for Lorna..But to me she is just someone concern with what this will do to Alabama....GCEDC has the agenda of using taxpayer money ,with out taking any risk if this doesn't pan out to be what they claim.. But yet they will gain in the way of bonuses for all at GCEDC.....Why must taxpayer money always be used for every thing GCEDC does....Lets see them do something with all private money... Why ruin a rural town like Alabama ...There is so much under used land that they allready own...
Acknowledging a bias is not an "accusation." Being biased is what we all are. There is no shame in a bias as long as it is acknowledged. EVERYONE has biases...for most reasonable people, they are based on careful thought and personal experiences!
We have made New York State completely inhospitable for business. Then, we tax our residents to give tax breaks to foreign and out-of-state companies to convince them to come here and "create jobs." As soon as the typical 10-year tax break period is over, these companies fly out, stating the high cost of doing business in NYS, and the obsolete equipment that is too expensive to upgrade. Hmmm, another empty industrial site and the need for another infusion of tax dollars from the citizens to create another "shovel ready" site. Why don't they just follow the state mandate to "reduce, reuse and recycle" and do that with the industrial parks of the companies the New York State regulatory agencies and tax burdens have driven out of business?
We don't need more "shovel ready" sites carved out of our diminishing farmland and wildlife habitat. We need more "move in now" sites that already have their gas, water, sewer, garbage, transportaion and electric utilities in place. (They were probably created years ago at tax-payer expense and maintained by tax dollars ever since. ) The people who seem most in favor of WNY STAMP are the people who have listened to the GCEDC the least...and that is my bias...because I have listened to them a lot!
As soon as someone who lives in Alabama says, "I'm not sure I want to industrialize my town" the people who don't live here begin to complain that we lack vision and are being NIMBY's. Maybe Alabama residents have a different, and equally valuable, vision for our town. Maybe our vision is even better. Maybe we could push it through the Genesee County Planning Board and get the Genesee County Legislature to change the Comrehensive Plan to suit us, if only we could have a couple of million dollars of your tax dollars to hire a multinational company and a lot of lawyers to convince everyone it's better for you all than what you had in mind.
Right on Lorna.....To bad people don't take more of an interest in how we spend tax dollars...I just saw today that Ranzenhofer wants the State to cough up 18 million for this project that hasn't even gotten OKed by the town of Alabama...Sounds like no matter what, its a done deal ,Screw what the people of that area want...Republican or Democrat they all like to spend someone else's money.....