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By Robert Cox

July 13, 2011

New York and Buffalo, NY—Members of the Getting Our Money’s Worth coalition responded positively to New York State Comptroller DiNapoli’s annual report on Industrial Development Agency (IDA) performance, which concluded that despite improvements in reporting, more needs to be done to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of these economic development agencies.

Matt Ryan, Executive Director of ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, addressed the report finding that there is no positive correlation between large tax exemptions and job creation:

“It’s troubling that in areas where a significant portion of the tax base is exempt, including Greene County, Niagara County, Oswego County and Wyoming County, we actually see a loss of jobs,” said Ryan. He continued, “With almost 90% of gross exemptions coming from local and school property taxes, we need to give our communities the necessary tools to monitor the effectiveness of subsidies and clawback much needed revenue from corporations that fail to live up to their promises.”

The report also examined the distribution and type of projects financed, discovering that with myriad development agencies, including IDAs, Local Development Corporations (LDCs) and Empire State Development, efforts seem to be overlapping, uncoordinated, and not targeting the greatest need. The report mentions that Regional Economic Development Councils will soon be an addition to the economic development landscape.

Allison Duwe, Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Justice addressed the quality of jobs created by IDA subsidies and the need for new Regional Councils to address troublesome performance issues:

“The quality of jobs created by IDAs and the need for many of these subsidies, particularly in the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector, are still questionable,” Duwe said. “In order to improve IDA performance, and indeed the performance of LDCs, Regional Councils and all economic development efforts, New Yorkers need greater performance standards, accountability and transparency attached to subsidies.”

ALIGN recently released a report, highlighting recommendations for coordinating economic development efforts, improving performance and incentivizing the new, green economy. The report, Seizing the Moment: How Regional Economic Development Councils Can Build a Good Jobs Economy, mirrors some of the reforms suggested by Comptroller DiNapoli and is available online.

The coalition intends to take a closer look at the newly released data on IDA and LDC performance and update previously-released studies on subsidy performance.

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