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Report finds limited IDA projects met job creation goals in 2011

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CANTON - A report examining the success of the of state’s Industrial Development Agencies in 2011 found the north country’s seven-county region tied New York City with the second greatest percentage of failed IDA projects, at 80 percent.

Fifteen out of the region’s current 128 IDA projects that ended in 2011 were examined by the report that was released Monday, conducted by the Alliance for a Greater New York and Getting Our Money’s Worth Coalition. The nonprofit watchdog organizations are based in New York City.

The report found the following results about those 15 IDA projects in the north country:

n Only three of the 15 projects met or exceeded their job creation goals.

n Nine projects failed to create a single permanent job over the life of the subsidy agreement.

n Eight projects failed to meet their job creation goals. Collectively, those projects were projected to create 230 jobs but ended with only four net new jobs.

nCorning Inc., a specialized glass factory based in Canton, accounted for 64 percent of the net job creation in the region among projects finished in 2011.

n The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency accounted or about 90 percent of state sales tax provided in the region ($1.2 out of $1.3 million), primarily due to the Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes project.

A total of 1,537 north country projects across the seven-county region took advantage of seven major state assistance programs in 2011, according to the report. That figure ranks dead last when compared to the state’s other nine regions; the Mohawk Valley region ranked ninth, with 1,556 projects, while Western New York ranked first, with 3,861 projects.

The north country ranked tenth in IDA tax exemptions, ninth in Empire State Development Corp. grants, eighth in Empire Zone tax credits, ninth in Regional Economic Development Council awards, tenth in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, tied for last in Brownfield Tax Credits and third in LDC grants. On average, it ranks eighth in spending among all programs.

The study found that, on average, 72 percent of IDA projects in the state failed to create a single job, failed to meet their job creation goals, or failed to set any job creation or retention goals.

Donald C. Alexander, JCIDA chief executive officer, criticized the study for its narrow focus.

“I think that in their personal view, they were trying to adopt a conclusion and look for data to support it,” Mr. Alexander said. “I think it could have been a better sampling, perhaps with a broader goal in mind. Economic development is a very difficult thing to do, particularly in New York state, and I’m sure you can build a case for it being totally satisfactory or unsatisfactory.”

View the report online at http://wdt.me/htY8md.

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