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Erie County Executive Leads Rant Against Prevailing Wages for IDA Projects

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-832057.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The abandoned AM&As building was the backdrop for business and elected leaders who voiced their opposition Thursday to prevailing wage legislation for Industrial Development Agency projects.

The windows are now broken and boarded up. Grafiti and rusted doors complete the eye sore that was once a thriving business. That was about to change. Buffalo Developer Rocco Termini recently was approved for financing through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for the $10 million redevelopment. But Termini said if the proposed bill passes it would cost another three million. And he's about out of patience.

"I don't think that they realize that the path of least resistance is the path that business takes," said Termini. "And if we keep putting burdens in the way of capital we're going to have everybody going 60 miles down the thruway to Pennsylvania and we'll have nobody left in New York to do anything."

State lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require workers be paid the prevailing wage on any project that is financed by industrial development agencies. Erie County Executive Chris Collins said that would effectively wipe out IDA incentives. And he said it couldn't come at a worse time, during a bad economy and when the county is finally making some headway at attracting investment in the region.

Collins was joined by other Republican lawmakers who agree the rules would have wide spread impact. State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin of Clarence said New York has to keep its edge against neighboring states, or it will cost jobs.

"I have in my district a medical manufacturing company. They want to build a factory and create 200 jobs," said Corwin. "They've already been to Ohio and Indiana. And they've already told me that the incentives in those states are equal to ours. If we don't keep ours, we're going to lose that company and those jobs."

Supporters of the law argue that prevailing wages should be paid on any project that receives any public funding.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.