August 1, 2007

HSBC & the Senecas

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.


fBig Daddy said...

Mindless comments from people who are merely looking to score some political points.

We can all debate AES because it was a break from the norm. But to criticize the Senecas over building a professional golf course is nuts.

The fact is we have too many elder statesman like Apolito in positions of power. They can't think big picture because in 20 or 30 years they'll be pushing up daisies while the next generation is left to clean up their messes.

This fact of those with the least stake in our future having the most say is in play all across Niagara County. Take a look at town supervisors, town councilmembgers, look at appointed positions on boards....not many of our best young minds are at the table.

Virtua Unreality said...

Absolutely, fbig. Even Lockport, you've got 76 year-old Phyllis Green trying to knock 30 year-old Richelle Pasceri off the ballot. We desperately need younger representatives who actually "represent" people other than the geriatric crowd.

Pete said...

It's Harry...consider the source.

Scott Leffler said...

WLVL devoted much coverage to the HSBC deal ... and I think MOST people think it's great. The comment you mention on the Lockport Journal message board is - unfortunately - kind of typical of some folk around here.

The golf course is another issue. I don't like a tax break for a golf course. I have a very narrow view of what the IDA is supposed to do ... and tax breaks for golf courses falls outside the scope of my view. But to call it a "fiasco?" That's probably a bit much.

Worth noting is that HSBC - just like LaBatt - chose WNY of their own volition. It was not recruited by the economic development office of either county.

Anonymous said...

Scott, making the point that HSBC and Labatt located here on their own is even better. It reiterates that there are people and businesses out there that have a positive view of WNY. Better than most of the people living here, unfortunately.

Scott Leffler said...

Anon, I agree wholeheartedly. We are a great area with great resources available - whether you're a business or just a John Q Public like myself.

My question is, though, if these businesses are finding WNY without help - what are our economic development people DOING? I mean, the BNE actually told Wacker "thanks, but no thanks" ... and I'm told the BNE said the same to another HUGE company.


Anonymous said...


From people I know, the Wacker deal was not killed by the BNE, but by NYPA which refused to meet the company's power demands even though the power was available. That's what killed the idea. I have firsthand knowledge of BNE doing everything they could to get the attention of Albany powerbrokers in the Pataki Administration to get NYPA to move and no one would listen.

cg466 said...

Yes sir WNY is a swell place to do business. Ask the folks at American Axel and Smurfit Container.

"There are people and businesses out there that have a positive view of WNY.”
This is the most ridiculous statement of the day!

William Wallace said...

CG, if every single person was permanently promised their same job for the rest of their lives, we'd be living in communist russia, not a free market economy. Some businesses will have to close because they can no longer compete, but you know what, more jobs will come around after that. To try and manipulate the conomy for the benefit of a few unemployed people or for a few union workers is simply asking for a very unstable economy inching closer to a socialist mess.

Anonymous said...

cg466 needs some warm fuzzies. Hey SailAway, let's start an article on good things people's legislators/mayors, etc. have done since they've lived in Niagara County. Yes, there are negatives, but come and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone. I for one am thrilled with the look of my Main St. in Lockport. There may be some negative about it, but it looks beautiful!! Come on cg....let's hear something positive!! Everybody...join something positive....!!!!

Clemenza said...

Something positive...hmm, Vince Anello's reign of terror is coming to an end.

Maybe that was too negative. I'll go with the HSBC deal which is real economic development.

Larry S said...

I like this new candidate, Richelle Pasceri. She seems to have a fire in her belly.

cg466 said...

let's hear something positive!! Everybody...join something positive....!!!!

I am positive that you are part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

yes cg, bloggers are part of the problem...damn bloggers

Anonymous said...

Here is something positive about blogs which according to cg ar part of the problem: they let everyon talk and give their opinion, even like cg!!!!

cg466 said...

Here is something positive about blogs which according to cg ar part of the problem: they let everyon talk and give their opinion, even like cg!!!!

I am for speaking out.I just have a tough time with the groupies who just love these crooks you call politicians.The more I read on these blogs the more I learn about the Natives who call this county home.Highest taxes in the country."Yes master may I have another"