New York's regulatory environment is a big problem GCEDC's CEO Steve Hyde told legislator's during a meeting in the Old Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.
A "making it up on the fly" attitude among mid-level bureaucrats helps to chase business away from the state and makes it harder for Genesee Economic Development to operate, Hyde said.
His examples: A Department of Labor opinion saying GCEDC should have paid prevailing wage in the construction of the MedTech facility; the Authorities Budget Office compensation report; and new difficulty in getting a rail line built into the Agri-Business park.
"It’s funny when you're trying to do progressive business development, how bureaucrats who really don't understand business development will make up new regulations on the fly," said Hyde during a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee.
Hyde also provided financial data on GCEDC's performance, noting that the county's $250,000 (approximate) annual investment in GCEDC has been leveraged into: $18.7 million in capital investment by area businesses; 116 PILOT projects that currently generate $2.2 million in new tax revenue -- and will eventually generate $4 million for local governments; and an increase of $2.2 million in sales tax revenue.
According to Hyde, for every $1 invested by Genesee County in 2010 in GCEDC, $16.54 in tax payments are returned to the various taxing jurisdictions in the county.
Much of this information will be presented at a public information meeting April 11, but so far, only 11 people have signed up to attend.
As for the regulatory climate, Hyde started off talking about the Department of Labor opinion and the conclusion of its attorney that the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. should have paid prevailing wage on construction the MedTech facility.
"We had an attorney from the Department of Labor unilaterally write a decision against our nonprofit LDL because the LDL has some sort of association with the (Industrial Development Agency)," Hyde said. "I don't know how one attorney in a single regulatory agency can issue an opinion that pierces the veil of state and federal law on nonprofits."
He called the idea of labeling a nonprofit corporation a public entity a "travesty" and "disrespectful of nonprofit laws in this country."
"If we fail on this one, it will be a very expensive issue not just for us, but could effect the college and the county directly," Hyde said.
On the Authorities Budget Office report, Hyde called the agency a young regulatory body that engages primarily in writing new rules for IDAs to follow -- regulations that haven't been enacted by elected officials.
"They come up with interpretations that are far reaching beyond any legislation," Hyde said.
On the Agri-Business Park, Hyde said that no major food processor will want to move into the park without it being connected to rail lines. The GCEDC has received a grant to build a rail line, but one "mid-level" bureaucrat in the Department of Transportation office in Rochester is holding up the funding.
"He's got us jammed up right now," Hyde said. "Now I'm going to have to work the chain, go to Hawley or Ranzenhofer. I told him, 'It's not your job to make regulations on the fly.'"
Besides the difficulty the GCEDC is facing with its own regulators, Hyde said the Department of Environmental Conservation is making it harder for businesses to build and expand in New York. As an example, Hyde said the DEC is expanding its "short form" environmental impact application from one page to four.
"One of the questions is about 'environmental justice,'" Hyde said. "How do you like that term, 'environmental justice'? It's just absurd."
Senior VP of Operations Mark Masse said the regulatory environment is one of the reasons an agency like GCEDC is needed, to help level the playing field with other states.
"We think it's bad living in NewYork, but there are people outside of New York who think we're closed for business because of these issues," Masse said.
But there may be help on the way. Hyde, and Legislator Hollis Upson, reiterated that that the Cuomo administration seems to be taking concerns about over-regulation seriously.
Members of the GCEDC recently met with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Hyde said, and Duffy was quite concerned about what he heard and promised specifically to look into the Department of Labor and ABO issues.
"Duffy really did seem interested in trying to knock down some of this bureaucracy," Hyde said.