The announcement that HSBC is planning to build a $1 billion data center in Niagara County is excellent news. The project will require about 350 construction employees, and once completed, the facility will employ 56 people.
So why is it that there is so little public jubilation over this project? There is virtually no talk of this project on local radio or on local message boards, and from what I have seen, the local message boards have comments like "the bank moving here, I will never do business with the commies." Huh?
Is the hatred driven by the fact that the company got an IDA tax break? Does the hatred run so deep, that any project that the IDA is involved with is automatically despised by those whose priorities are so distorted, that even if a project benefits every single one of us in Niagara County that it MUST be criticized?
Yes, HSBC got an IDA package that will save the company nearly $90 million over 15 years. But the project will also generate nearly $15 million to the town of Cambria, the school district and the county. The property sold for $390,000, so we can assume it was assessed at about that value prior to the sale. At $390,000 the property would have generated about $14,000 per year in taxes. Which would we prefer, nearly a $1 million per year or $14,000 per year. Obviously it's a no-brainer. But sure enough, there were the naysayers opposing any tax breaks for this project.
We have the same situation with the Seneca Golf Course, Hickory Stick. The Senecas applied for and received an IDA package for this project. In this case, you have County Legislators and candidates actually bashing this project. Harry Apolito stood up at the last meeting and slammed the IDA. Candidate Beverly McDonough wrote a letter to the editor and called the golf course package a "fiasco".
Let's look at this "fiasco" Apolito and McDonough are so critical of. This course will be a 250 acre 18 hole professional golf course to be located in Lewiston. It will be open to the public, and it will have a driving range, club house and pro shop and dining facilities.
I would imagine that Apolito's and McDonough's criticism is based on the finances of the project, so let's look at them. This property was bought for $361,000, and it generated $2,930 per year in tax revenue.
The five-year PILOT that the Senecas received will pay the taxing jurisdictions $965,000. $200,000 per year or $3,000 per year? Another no-brainer. And the sales tax revenue projected to be generated over the same five year period? $2.4 million in addition to the PILOT payments. The project creates 25 full-time and 19 part-time jobs. McDonough called this project "corporate welfare".
These are two projects that are of huge benefit to Niagara County. All of the time we hear people say that there isn't enough being done to create opportunities and create jobs. Unfortunately, there are those in the community that, as we've said before, will stop at nothing to enhance their own agenda, even if it means bad-mouthing the good things that are happening. It's even more unfortunate that among these people are an elected official and a wannabe.
Do us all a favor: When the Explore Buffalo Niagara Expo comes to town in the Fall, and there's hundreds of CEO's visting our area, stay home.