Hyde provides county legislators with annual report on GCEDC's work
Since 2004, the Genesee Economic Development Center has assisted companies in adding 12.6 million square feet in commercial space in Genesee County, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde told the Ways and Means Committee during an annual department review Wednesday.
That's a 37-percent increase in commercial space in the county, Hyde said.
There are 30 companies operating in the seven industrial parks developed by GCEDC.
The big park with the biggest vacant area, of course, is the 1,200-acre Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park or STAMP project in Alabama.
The project lost a chance to land direct-wafer solar pioneer 1366 Technologies a year ago and has yet to land a new company for the park but Hyde said there is one big project pending that may yet sign and another in early-stage discussions.
The state has already invested about $10.9 in STAMP for initial infrastructure development. Those funds were approved in the 2014 state budget but released until 1366 signed on as the site's first tenant. The infrastructure work was started before 1366 withdrew from the project because of its inability to reach terms with the Department of Energy on a loan guarantee. Last week, 1366 announced the anticipated opening of its production facility in Malaysia.
At Wednesday's meeting, Hyde announced that the Empire State Development has just authorized another $8 million for major infrastructure -- sewer and water -- for STAMP. The upgrades in infrastructure plans are necessary, Hyde said, because the companies exploring the site now are going to need more infrastructure capacity.
The state is also providing another $2 million grant for the Corfu/Pembroke sewer project.
During Wednesday's meeting, Hyde expressed some concern about the future of the economy, with some economists warning that tariffs and the trade war with China is taking its toll on growth both here and aboard.
GCEDC is forecasting IDA-backed projects in 2019 will create only 90 new jobs. That's a conservative number because companies have become more conservative in their job creation estimates for incentive-backed expansions because of clawback provisions initiated in state law a couple of years ago.
A clawback is a requirement for a company to return some incentive money if they fail to meet job creation guarantees.
"Companies are unwilling to be as aggressive in forecasted jobs so they tend to under-promise and over deliver," Hyde said.
A clawback is at the local IDA's discretion and Hyde said the GCEDC's board is hesitant to initiate a clawback if there is a reason outside of a company's control for not reaching job projection numbers, such as a slowing economy.
"We don't like to kick a company when it's down," Hyde said.
He said the board has canceled incentives when companies have failed to perform but only when there is a sound reason to believe the company has failed at its obligations absent of external business cycle factors.
"That's not anything we're afraid to do," Hyde said.
Much of what Hyde presented will be part of GCEDC's annual meeting at 11:30 a.m., tomorrow, at Batavia Downs.