Companies receiving tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency now must agree to hire at least nine of every 10 construction workers from within the eight counties of Western New York.
IDA officials adopted the new policy this week, saying it would guarantee that the vast majority of the wages paid to construction workers on projects backed by local taxpayers would go to workers who live within the broader region.
Keeping those wages within Western New York will enhance the economic impact of the projects that receive IDA subsidies, especially since construction costs can make up a significant portion of a project’s overall value, said Michael Hoffert, an IDA board member who is president of the Buffalo AFL-CIO Council.
“It’s important that local workers benefit from the projects we’re supporting,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “This will guarantee it.”
If a company fails to comply with the local labor requirement, it could lose the tax breaks the IDA had approved for the project.
The policy applies only to the Erie County IDA, though some of the county’s suburban IDAs have addressed the local labor issue on their own. Amherst IDA officials discussed the issue last week, with some board members saying they would like to see any local labor policy adopted by that agency include a provision to exempt smaller projects.
The policy adopted by the Erie County IDA requires companies receiving tax breaks to provide the agency a list of construction workers involved in the project and information, such as a ZIP code, that indicates the community where the workers live. Those reports must be submitted before construction begins, with quarterly updates for the duration of the construction project, said John Cappellino, the IDA’s executive vice president.
The policy also allows companies to seek a waiver from the local labor requirement if enough workers with the required skills are not available in the region or if warranty requirements mandate that certain equipment be installed only by approved workers who may not live within Western New York.