Industrial development agencies across Western New York were the busiest in New York state during 2012.
IDAs in Western New York provided incentives to a total of 837 projects, the most of any other major region in the state, according to a report issued Tuesday by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
The Erie County IDA was the most active among the region’s economic development agencies, providing tax breaks to 307 projects with a combined value of $5.4 billion. Those projects received $47.3 million in combined tax breaks and paid $26.3 million to local schools and municipalities through payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
The Erie County IDA projects created 1,810 jobs for a cost of $11.587 per job, while retaining 10,630 others. IDA officials have said their job creation numbers reflect the struggles of local manufacturers in recent years. They also have pointed to the General Motors’ engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda, where the automaker has drastically cut its work force over the years but has continued to make investments and has added new engine lines that make it more competitive going forward.
The Amherst IDA was involved in 138 projects worth a total of $774.2 million. Those projects received $12.1 million in tax breaks and generated $7.1 million in PILOT payments. The tax breaks amounted to $460 for each of the 10,834 jobs that the projects created.
Excluding New York City, IDAs across the state provided $885 million in tax breaks to nearly 4,000 projects valued at a combined $56.5 billion. The incentives averaged $5,432 per job created.
“In many parts of New York, IDA projects provide a much-needed boost to local economic development efforts,” DiNapoli said in a statement. But DiNapoli also said IDAs need to provide greater disclosure and be more accountable.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, a frequent critic of IDAs, agreed. “Because of the lack of transparency, it’s hard to figure it out,” he said.