9/24/2009

ESDC Leaving Us in the Dark?

Posted by MJ

Yesterday, The Buffalo News wrote about the dissatisfaction in the Niagara County Legislature that the county was not invited to the table to discuss what became First Niagara's headquarter's move to the east side of Buffalo accompanied with a $1.3 Million gift from the state.

Today both The Buffalo News and the LUSJ posted the response by the ESDC and First Niagara. It seems as long as some jobs were created, they justify behind their decision to not include Niagara County in the discussions.

Katie Krawczyk, upstate public affairs director for Empire State Development, said the corporation’s top priority is creating and maintaining jobs in New York. “We are pleased with our work on this deal as we were not only able to bring 300 new, high-paying jobs to both Niagara and Erie counties, but we also helped to secure the company’s existing work force of over 1,000 employees across upstate New York,” she said. “First Niagara will be maintaining the current number of positions they have at their Niagara County office while expanding this facility to serve as their main administrative office. It was important to ESD to ensure that both Erie and Niagara Counties benefited from First Niagara’s expansion,” Krawczyk added.

The sponsor, Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, said she would have liked to see those 300 new jobs in Niagara County. She also railed against the lack of notice the bank gave Niagara County officials. “It’s another case of Niagara County being marginalized and ignored,” she said. Legislature Chairman William L. Ross said he didn’t find out about the deal until 7:30 p. m. Sept. 10, the night before it was announced. Niagara County, whose Economic Development Department has a business retention operation, was never given a chance to try to keep the headquarters, Kimble complained.

I was (and still am) fine with the ultimate decision to financially help First Niagara expand in an area that needs help and reuse (east side of Buffalo). As opposed to getting paid to move to Crosspoint Business Park etc, then I would feel differently (even the pick up and move to the Pendleton location was a stretch - were incentives given then?)

It should still be a concern that the host (and neighboring) community was left out of the loop. The legislature is free to have someone from the ESDC come in and explain themselves though more will need to be done to ensure a more open dialogue between affected governmental bodies within the state. Although there are some bright spots to how this played out, it could very well not be the case the next time it happens.

2 comments:

Rocketboy said...

I for one am not happy about this at all. It again shows how Niagara County gets the shaft. Come on, look at the Yahoo! deal. Niagara County was always last on the list. Not last on Yahoo!'s list, but the last on Empire State Development Corp.'s list. Hell, they couldn't even be bothered to drive north to do the announcement that Yahoo! was coming to Lockport, much less Niagara County. The story was how Yahoo! is coming to Buffalo.

"High on hospitality

The Lockport site was actually the last on the tour, which is usually an insurmountable hurdle since a site team is exhausted. What helped was goodwill from another business located in the industrial park, Exel Logistics of Ohio, which welcomed the group into its conference room for refreshments.

“It was a terrible day. It was raining, and cold. It was midafternoon, and they went into this conference room, and there were snacks and coffee and soft drinks,” Kenyon recalled. “That extension of hospitality, at that point in their visit to Western New York, made a real strong impression on them.”

The BNE also tried to leave the Yahoo! team with a lasting impression of Buffalo, beyond industrial sites. “If you take them to a good restaurant, that can be the thing they remember,” Griggs said.

So Abounader brought the Yahoo! team to Left Bank, Ambrosia and Tempo, as well as to Shanghai Red’s, Mother’s, City Grille, Bijou Grille and Pearl Street Brewery on subsequent visits. She also took them down Mansion Row on Delaware Avenue, and through numerous Buffalo streets and neighborhoods, where the visitors noted the intricate architecture — and the front porches.

“They were really impressed with Buffalo. They didn’t now what to expect, but it wasn’t this,” Abounader said. “They couldn’t believe Buffalo had that history of architecture.”

And, of course, she took them to Niagara Falls at the end of the third day, after visiting the farthest site. The trio walked the park, read about the volume of water going over, and took lots of photos — including of the ice in the river and snow on the ground.

“They didn’t realize the state park is so big. They thought you just pull up,” Abounader said. “They were tourists. They liked it.”"

http://www.buffalonews.com/409/story/731108.html

MJ said...

Buffalo most likely offers the "biggest" bang for the buck in exposure. Places like Amherst (Geico at Crosspoint) is next in that is a "safe" location that businesses want to be in. The larger grants (subsidies) should go to the places that areas in need (Like the Lco District, or the Harrison Complex and neighboring streets)

Lockport and Niagara County as a whole would obviously be on the short end of the stick due to our size and lack of clout. This is where our own self promotion and gumption to break into what is going on is needed. Hopefully Yahoo gives us some more clout withing even our own state development agencies.

I feel Buffalo is a bonus for Lockport. We have major league sports, art, dining, shopping, etc within a 30 min easy drive. But we are far enough away to be our own thing and have great features like the historical locks, intact walkable neighborhoods and DT, the Niagara Wine loop etc. Its up to us to butt heads and get in to the hapenings of the ESDC, etc.

This was unique in that is was dealing with an existing company. I would want answers. Answers beyond generic "you both got some jobs." It was not right to leave the home locality out of the loop when dealing with our tax dollars. The legislature should keep grilling "why" until they get a real answer.

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