Empire Zones, EDCs & IDAs To Thank For Western NY Revitalization

A Letter to the Editor from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia)

In recent years, the possibility of an economic resurgence in communities across Western New York has been enhanced by the efforts of the Empire Zone (EZ) Program. Our local EZ boards, particularly in Genesee and Orleans counties, in conjunction with Economic Development Centers (EDCs) and Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), have made great strides in getting our Western New York economy back on track and their efforts should be applauded. Our economic plight would have been greatly diminished without their hard work and dedication.

As a charter member of the Genesee County Empire Zone Board of Directors and as a former county legislative liaison to the Genesee County Economic Development Center, I have worked directly with these agencies even before I was elected to the State Assembly. These agencies have continued to be among some of the most successful and helpful in the state, as evidenced by the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) recent announcement that all 53 companies within the Genesee and Orleans counties EZ programs have been recertified.

These companies provide essential job opportunities for our residents and have helped to bring back our Main Street and rural quality of life. The ESDC announcement ensures that all 53 businesses will continue to receive the state tax incentives and services provided by our local EZ boards. This was not the case with many businesses in many larger metropolitan areas across the state.

At the state Capitol, there is increasing political pressure from some “big city” legislators to end the Empire Zone Program, under-fund EDCs, or compromise the success of IDAs. In more rural communities in Western New York, however, these programs have been the lifeblood of our economic renewal and we have done things the right way. For these reasons, these organizations will have my continued support and ardent advocacy in Albany and at home. And I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be pro-jobs and to oppose any dramatic changes to these programs.