April 6, 2011

Yahoo! Expands in Niagara County

While Verizon has pulled the plug on its proposed multi-billion dollar facility in Somerset, there are still good things happening on the economic development front in Niagara County. Yahoo! announced this week that they will be expanding its Lockport location, bringing more jobs to the 155,000 square foot facility.

While we're often critical of certain aspects of Niagara County, the reality is that the community has much to offer prospective investors, primarily the availability of low-cost hydropower and our abundance of fresh water. We also have a great workforce with an excellent mix of blue collar and white collar experience. Yahoo! clearly recognized the value of all of these attributes when making the decision to locate and expand here.

It's easy to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves, especially after Verizon bailed out. We've talked about the "woe is me" attitude that is so prevalent in Western New York. So much of the negativity that has permeated throughout our community is driven by the people who live in this community.

What we should be focusing on are the many great qualities that draw companies like Yahoo!, Norampac, Globe Metals and Edwards Vacuum to do business here. Are there challenges? Of course there are. The cost of doing business in New York is still an impediment. Antiquated laws like Wicks Law, Scaffold Law, Taylor Law and the Triborough Amendment do nothing but drive up costs for employers.

That being said, we're very optimist of the direction of the state legislature in getting spending under control. While that's a great step in the right direction, we're still waiting to see what they do when it comes to mandate relief and a tax cap. Now is not the time for the governor to blink. Mandate relief, a tax cap and Medicaid reform, along with a thorough review of the above laws, must be on his radar if New York is to become a state that employers will want to invest in.

In the meantime, we need to celebrate the victories that come our way, no matter how big or small. Congrats to Yahoo! on their decision to expand in Niagara.

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