In the coming weeks, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA) will review Amazon’s request for a variety of tax breaks. As a board member of the NFC Development Corporation in Niagara Falls, I watched municipalities across Western New York enter into similar deals, leveraging payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) and job creation guarantees.
Although I have spoken at several public meetings in favor of Amazon, the economic impact and the number of jobs promised are often insufficient with these projects (see Tesla in Buffalo).
Why do our elected officials at all levels of government continue to use this same old strategy and then expect different results?
Amazon is one of the most creative and forward-thinking companies in the world. They have completely changed the way we think about shopping, entertainment, technology and so much more. Regarding this partnership, isn’t it an opportunity for us to be more creative ourselves?
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In the past, Amazon has offered funds to host communities for parks and infrastructure improvements, and they should do the same here. But in addition, we also need Amazon to support projects and programs that generate revenue in the form of taxpayer dollars and promote our communities and businesses.
To do this, Amazon could:
• Create a $500,000 homebuyer relief fund so that when one of its 1,000 employees buys a home in Niagara County, Amazon will provide $5,000 for the down payment.
• Sponsor workforce development and skills training programs that help potential employees learn the skills they need to work at this one-of-a-kind facility before its opening date.
• Establish a school technology foundation to ensure Niagara County students have access to state-of-the-art Internet devices and service, both at school and at home, for years to come. come.
• Commit to using union labor during construction of the facility and allowing workers to organize, without pushback, once the distribution center is operational.
• Work with the NFTA to establish new bus routes to the facility and have Amazon reimburse employees for public transportation costs during their first year on the job.
It’s time for our community to stop relying on outdated strategies and start thinking more creatively.
This opportunity to engage Amazon as a true community partner is too great to pass up and the ideas outlined above would positively impact our region for generations to come.
Doug Mooradian is running for New York State’s 145th Assembly District.