Amazing, isn’t it, that corporate welfare through Industrial Development Agencies is so ingrained in local business culture, that it is tantamount to a profile in courage for Clarence’s IDA to consider rejecting providing such welfare to a Mini dealership that wants to relocate from one side of Main Street to the other.
The IDA culture in western New York is like belonging to a very exclusive country club. The IDAs are made up of politically connected people who decide whether to give handouts, loans, tax breaks, and incentives to people and businesses who are also politically connected. Because the IDA system in western New York is a prime example of disunity and lack of regional vision, IDAs too often poach businesses from one part of WNY to another, or else – as here – simply use public money to subsidize a successful business’ expansion within the same town.
If Towne Mini is doing well, then let Towne Mini finance its own move. If its expansion is going to make it so much money that sales taxes alone will amount to $650,000 per year, then make sure there’s not a lot of red tape in the way of construction and be done with it.
But it’s high time that our quasi-governmental corporate welfare entities banded together for the industrial development of western New York as a whole, and stop selectively granting tax breaks to one German-English automotive marque over any other. Ryan has been beating the IDA reform drum for some time, and handing tax breaks to assist a BMW subsidiary to move to bigger digs across the street hardly sounds like a good idea. Let Mini pay for its own expansion, and beware of other towns’ IDAs looking to offer Mini better deals to move to Amherst or elsewhere.
As for Clarence’s IDA, the website is woefully out of date, with the last agenda and minutes entries dating back to mid-summer. Perhaps some more transparency and information would be welcome.