Local Matters

Community Sponsors

January 6, 2016 - 1:59pm

The promise and the peril of 1366 Technologies discussed at public hearing on tax incentives

posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business, 1366 Technologies.

1366hearingjan52016.jpg

After the questions, concerns, challenges and outright objections to 1366 Technologies coming to the Town of Alabama to build silicon wafers to capture the energy of the sun, resident Dave Dunn said, "I think we've all forgot one thing here tonight: Thank you for coming here."

That statement drew a round of applause from most of the 75 or so people who attended the public hearing Tuesday night on proposed tax incentives to help Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies build its $700 million facility on 105 acres of the planned high-tech park known as STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

There were only a handful of speakers during the hearing, and only a couple more who raised objections during a follow-up question and answer period, including one man who stormed out during an impassioned speech by Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on the need for economic development to help keep our children in Western New York.

The state is planning on spending more than $5 million on land acquisition and infrastructure to make STAMP possible, and 1366 could receive another $56 million in incentives from New York along with tax abatements of more than $35 million through GCEDC.

It is those local incentives that the GCEDC Board will be asked to approve in an upcoming vote and last night's public hearing was required in advance of it.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, opened the hearing with an overview of the financing and financial impact of the proposed 1366 project.

The venture is expected to lead to 1,000 jobs at the plant within a few years, with another 1,593 jobs generated by companies that will provide services and support to the new company, and some 2,600 jobs created by local economic growth.

That's more than 6,500 local jobs within 10 years, Masse said.

Entry-level jobs will start at $16 an hour, with production jobs going up to $24 an hour based on duties and experience.

The 1366 payroll is expected to reach nearly $40 million. The indirect payroll could exceed $60 million and induced jobs would add another $30.3 million in payroll, for an anticipated increase in local payroll of $130 million. (CORRECTION: In my notes, I left off some zeros. The payroll numbers have been updated to correct that mistake.)

To help finance the project, GCEDC is proposing a PILOT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's a break on the property tax. There would be property tax due on the current assessed value of the 105-acre parcel, but there would be no new taxes on the increase in assessed value over the first two years of the project. The taxes would then gradually increase over the next eight years. 

There are also proposed tax abatements on the sales tax on construction materials as well as relief from the mortgage tax.

Masse then turned the floor over to Brian Eller, chief operations officer for 1366, who shared some of his company's plans and an overview of what 1366 will manufacture.

Eller explained that 1366, working with scientists at MIT, have developed a whole new manufacturing process for silicon wafers -- the main component of solar panels, that the company believes will be cheaper to manufacture and produce less waste than the process used by every other company in the world.

Silicon is the second most plentiful mineral on Earth and is usually extracted from sand. For solar wafers, manufacturers receive ingots of silicon that are typically cut and ground into square objects. 

That's an extremely wasteful production process, according to a video Eller played for the audience. Much of the silicon is wasted, as well as the blades and diamond-tipped twine used to cut the wafers.

The process developed at MIT involves melting the silicon and rolling out flat wafers, much like modern glass manufacturing.

The process is a third faster and a third cheaper than current techniques, and no silicon goes to waste, and it uses less energy.

The goal of 1366 is to use its technology to produce wafers that eventually make solar power as cheap to consume as coal energy.

What 1366 isn't doing is making entire solar panels. They are only making the wafers, and they aren't making solar panels.

Elon Musk's Solar City plant, going up in Buffalo, will make rooftop panels, but 1366 isn't producing wafers for rooftop panels, so there isn't currently an opportunity for the two companies to work together directly. The wafers produced by 1366 are intended for industrial solar energy farms, which currently makes up 70 percent of the worldwide solar energy market.

One speaker during the public hearing expressed concern that 1366 would get all of these tax breaks, build this big building, and then pull out like Pepsi did with the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

There are, however, some significant differences between the Quaker Muller operation and 1366's plans. Pepsi and Muller entered a market that we now know was saturated in an industry that is so competitive that profit margins are always squeezed. There was no chance for Muller's imitation Greek yogurt to achieve a dominant market position.

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. Thiel also advises startups to aim for only a segment of a market and achieve dominance in that segment before growing. Pepsi and Muller appear to have violated both of those guidelines by entering a market that already had dominant manufacturers, such as Chobani, Dannon and Fage, and aiming for a share of the entire market, not just a segment where it might have a chance to dominate. 

Eller thinks that 1366's lower cost, less wasteful process is that 10-times improvement Thiel recommends (though he hadn't yet read Thiel's book when asked about it) and that 1366 is going after a segment of the market where it can achieve dominance.

Only a portion, less than $100 million, of $700 million required to build the 1366 Technologies plant to full capacity is coming from public investment. There is also a $150 million loan guarantee backed by the Department of Energy. When the project was announced at Genesee Community College in October, company CEO Frank van Mierlo indicated he was investing his own money in the project. The company has reportedly raised $70 million in venture capital from investors such as Hanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. The company has not discussed any other efforts to raise additional capital or the timing of capital needs. They would not need the entire $700 million in the bank to start construction.

Construction is expected to start in May or June.

The first jobs should be filled in the fall or early winter of this year, with hiring continuing through the middle part of 2017 and then more jobs added as production capacity is increased.

Eller will move to here from Bedford to join the ranks of the locally employed, along with as many as five current 1366 managers and executives, though the company will remain headquartered in Bedford. That's also where the company will continue research and development operations.

There was a bit of discussion between Eller, Masse and meeting attendees about workforce development and who will get hired at the new plant. 

Lorna Klotzbach had several objections to the proposal, among them were questions about whether there were really sufficient potential employees in the region. She also shared with some other speakers a concern that STAMP was converting farmland and wildlife refuge into industrial land.

Al Files, who would later get up in a huff and storm out during Hyde's speech, said he thought it made a lot more sense to build where there's already big buildings and infrastructure.

"In my opinion, I think it's stupid," Files said. "We're wasting all of this property when it could be built in Rochester, Buffalo or Batavia."

Eller said 1366 was attracted to STAMP, out of 300 locations considered, for two primary reasons. First is cheap and clean hydroelectric power, and then there is the regional workforce. Eller said the company hired a consultant who studied a number of variables for several possible plant locations and STAMP scored the highest for workforce potential.

Creating local jobs and reversing two generations of economic decline is what STAMP is all about, Hyde said.

"At the end of the day, what drove us to work so hard to attract a company like 1366 to our community and our region is creating jobs for our kids so they can either stay here or come back home," Hyde said. "All the rest of these questions are good and relevant, but if we take a little look at the big picture, we’ve all been losing tax base and these guys are going to start that trend of turning that around. 

"We can’t guarantee that companies are going to be successful, but even with the situation in Batavia, where Muller Quaker was, we built that ag park, two companies came in and spent over $200 million there. The market didn’t work. They entered the market late. They ended up having to shut down and that’s a disappointment, but the beauty is, one of the best dairy companies in the nation is coming in because that ag park is there and they're filling it back up and probably hiring more people than Muller ever would have. The investment model that we’ve used over the last decade is working. It’s creating good jobs for our people and our community. It’s creating tax base.

"I just wanted to paint a little bit of the bigger picture," Hyde added a few sentences later. "We’re absolutely fortunate to have a company like 1366 be willing to come here and start to build that high-tech, entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will mean a lot of jobs for our kids. … I’ll tell you right now if we get a thousand jobs from this company over the next decade, and that turns around to be about four thousand jobs all over this area, you’re going to see an economic boom around here that we haven’t seen in 50 years."

At which point, Files interjected, "This is an agricultural area. This is not a manufacturing area."

Hyde said projects like 1366 will take the pressure off of ag to support the entire local economy, and that the land the plant will use is less than 3 percent of the available acreage in Genesee County, and it's the least productive land in the county.

"We looked at all of that," Hyde said.

But Files was no longer in the room to hear it.

1366hearingjan52016-2.jpg

I couldn't find online the video Eller showed, but in looking for it, I found this interesting video.

david spaulding
david spaulding's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 12 2011 - 5:46pm

he he .... did anyone else notice the entry level jobs are going to pay minimal wages of $ 16/hr. 400 million dollar payroll for 1000's of employees? did anyone ask what pay the corporate people would receive ? ahhh that's how they came up with 400 million.
this is nothing more than a pep rally. do not be fooled. if this company can tell people that it will million dollar payrolls then believe ME they can pay their own way with out Taxpayer subsidies. Please remember the tax money doled out to the yogurt factory. Please remember the tax money doled out to Lowe's. Do not be fooled again.
Taxpayers can not afford any more corporate welfare..
Thanks but no thanks, now get back on the toll way and head back to mass.
Folks, it's a done deal. The meeting was a technical, legally required, process prior to final approval. steve your bonus check will be in the mail, take the summer off enjoy your vacation.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

I just found another great video on 1366: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d7VDzygSqg

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

The $400 million is the 10 year projected revenue. I meant to use annual figures and have adjusted the story accordingly.

Lorna Klotzbach
Lorna Klotzbach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 20 2010 - 10:27am

Howard, I sat one row behind you last night at the GCEDC public hearing, but it sounds as though we were not at the same meeting at all! You described it as “a couple of people speaking” objections to the possible arrival of 1366, when at least ten people spoke, with the majority of them asking/commenting at least twice. The tone was not nearly as warm as you describe in your editorial. You rushed right up to the front to speak more with Mr. Eller and Mr. Masse, but you didn’t circulate around the room seeking to discover the points of view of the Alabama residents who came to listen.
You have not mentioned the economic concerns Alabama residents have about the loss of sales tax revenue to the Town and, indeed, to the entire county. Some estimates put this figure in the millions of dollars which local municipalities will lose during the construction and build-up phases. More than 50% of the land in Alabama is already off the tax rolls, with STAMP removing another 1200+ acres. This tax abatement could jeopardize the economic survival of individual families in Alabama and the County because the revenue must be made up somehow, which means tax increases. You don’t point out, or acknowledge, or investigate how long the “future” is in GCEDC’s claims of “potential future tax reductions at full build-out.” Listen closely—they never say that the tax reductions will come immediately, or even soon. Don’t you remember sitting in the same fire hall a few years ago, listening to Mr. Steve Hyde say, with his characteristic shrug, “Alabama will have to bear the costs and losses so the whole region can benefit. “
Neither GCEDC’s Mark Masse nor Brian Eller could/would answer questions about how much water will be required for 1366’s innovative manufacturing plant or about how much waste water and sewage will be generated and pumped through the refuge on its way to Medina’s water treatment plant. This is an important question since someone has to build, operate and maintain these delivery systems. Some entity will have to pay back the loans and assume responsibility for them if 1366 fails or leaves NYS. That entity will be funded by taxes.
Neither gentleman seemed to know whether the GCEDC or 1366 would own the land, or exactly which entity would own the factory after the GCEDC builds it. This is an important question because whoever owns them will have more “skin in the game (which is highly motivating), and will be left “holding the bag” should 1366 go the way of Muller Yogurt!
Neither man could/would answer questions about the compensation that will be coming to the town of Alabama in return for it setting aside its Comprehensive Plan, changing its zoning, and incurring new municipal costs during the period before “full build-out” with its projected Nirvana-like economy. This is an important question because the Town was supposed to receive money upon the sale of the now-public, untaxed lands within the STAMP. If GCEDC doesn’t sell the land, how much money will Alabama receive and how committed will 1366 be to the Town?

Lorna Klotzbach
Lorna Klotzbach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 20 2010 - 10:27am

Howard, you are also dismissive of the concern local residents have about being transformed from an agricultural community, rich in fertile soils, able to supply food for many in the northeast USA and beyond, into an industrialized town and county. The statements Mr. Hyde made about agriculture, which you quoted, are untruths (it sounds too rude to call them lies) and he knows it. Projects like STAMP do not “take the pressure off ag to support the entire economy.” STAMP threatens the very existence of agriculture in Alabama and eventually, in the whole county. The increased traffic, made up of urban commuters, will not tolerate farm equipment on the roads, smells in the air, harvesting noise in the nights. They will, like our own NYS government, call farmland “vacant land,” and not recognize that the momentary inconveniences mentioned above are what give us a wholesome local food supply, regulated for high quality and safety.
As a result of the STAMP using up tillable acres, certainly not ”the least productive in the county,” and of the expected development pressure, the price of farmland has more than doubled. This results in higher taxes. This makes it more difficult for individuals to hold on to small farm acreages. This makes it more likely for farmland to be consolidated in the hands of mega-farms. This makes it less likely that young farmers can begin to farm and make food production pay the mortgage and taxes. This makes us more dependent on foreign food sources which are less safe, more expensive, less environmentally responsible.
I know this is a real, urgent concern because a GCEDC attorney came to the Alabama Planning Board meeting within days of the Town Council approving STAMP, to tell us that we must immediately begin putting into place “Farmland Protection Programs” to counter the intense development pressure which was sure to quickly follow the approval. A consultant hired by the GCEDC to “get permits through the DEC quickly” (Mr. Hyde’s description stated at a town council meeting) also arrived in the town/county soon after, now funded by government grants, to urge the adoption of the “Green Genesee” process. This consultant now warns about STAMP spin-off development causing the permanent loss of connected wildlife habitats and greenspaces. The consultant advocates the preservation of farmland only because farming is the land use most likely to keep some of it unpaved and free of housing developments. The continuous green corridors and waterways required for wildlife to survive and thrive are dependent on farm fields to connect them.
You have never investigated or reported on or editorialized about how different Alabama will be if WNY STAMP succeeds on the grandiose scale the GCEDC has been promising. You can’t ride your snow mobiles through housing developments. You can’t stroll down the road carrying your shotgun, dressed in camouflage, near an industrial park, without triggering a SWAT team’s arrival. You can’t gaze daily on wildlife if our spaces look like downtown. You can’t supply your family with meat from the woods if every gunshot or glimpse of a bow results in a 9-1-1 call.
Steve Hyde, Mark Masse, Steve Hawley, Senator Ranzenhoffer, Senator Shumer, and you, Howard Owen, know for certain, that the STAMP project is not friendly to agriculture and directly threatens its survival in Alabama and, ultimately, in Genesee County. And, it is Genesee County agriculture, with its cropland, that keeps our government coffers full with tax money while demanding very little in costly municipal services. Our economy may never have soared, but neither has it completely tanked in recent years, because of the stabilizing effect of agriculture. Agriculture is not glamorous, but it brings honest and reliable benefits to the wider community. Think of how farms and agricultural support businesses would have grown if the GCEDC and NYS had given each one a fraction of the tax-abatements and low-cost hydropower being offered to Quaker Muller and 1366. Think of how much more cheaply this growth could have been purchased!

Lorna Klotzbach
Lorna Klotzbach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 20 2010 - 10:27am

As for the “~$1.5 BILLION benefit to the region over 10 years” which Mr. Masse said will result from the arrival of 1366 with its hundreds of millions of dollars of tax-payers’ money in subsidies, do you believe this is feasible? We haven’t even discussed Mr. Hyde’s past admissions in public meetings at the firehall, that job-hungry Alabama and Genesee County residents will not be given preference in hiring anywhere in the STAMP project construction or operation.
I returned to Alabama because I wanted to live here. I am a secondary teacher and I have spent many hours trying to help students figure out which directions to take for college and careers. It is disingenuous for STAMP promoters to portray STAMP-doubters as “anti-progress” and “against our children!” We need to treasure, promote and educate our youth to take advantage of the natural resources we have rather than throw them aside and remake ourselves into another paved-over, government-subsidized industrial park, ever vulnerable to corporate abandonment.

Ed Hartgrove
Ed Hartgrove's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2012 - 11:54am

Lorna Klotzbach - As per your three comments, Well said, Well said, and, well, Well said!

david spaulding
david spaulding's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 12 2011 - 5:46pm

All right Lorna ........ excellent and very informative . Thank you..... I still can't believe they want to pave over farm land when the cities west of us are all set up with the infrastructure and waiting to build.. besides they are already making solar panels with millions of taxpayer dollars.... what happened to 1366? somebody beat them to the taxpayer gravy in Buffalo and Lackawanna ?
I can tell you all right now, this is a done deal and unless the bundy's show up, there is nothing any of us can do to stop it. ladies and gentlemen open your wallets we are about to buy a solar panel factory. . . For sale 2013 Yogurt Factory low mileage.

Lorna Klotzbach
Lorna Klotzbach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 20 2010 - 10:27am

I can't resist asking this question of Mr. Hyde and Mr. Owen--have you asked OATKA how they feel about the new dairy co-op buying the empty yogurt factory?
Howard didn't follow up on Steve Hyde's cheery, triumphant comment about how wonderful it is for that new company to come to Batavia with questions about where the milk will come from to fill that plant, about how many tax abatements and cash incentives might be given to it, and whether those same will be offered to OATKA, about whether our local ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION has investigated if Genesee County can support 2 similar milk processing companies.
The GCEDC seems to be able to keep going as long as it keeps shuffling and moving around its money like a magician with shells. Ultimate efficiency does not seem to be a requirement for it to be given more tax dollars, or to be held accountable for scooping up part of the funds from the PILOTs it negotiates--practices which deny the County and Towns their share of sales tax revenue.
I appreciate having the Batavian and a local newspaper...I just wish they would actually do more investigation of the economic underpinings of these supposed miracle companies rather than relying so much on, and reprinting GCEDC and corporate press releases.

Ed Hartgrove
Ed Hartgrove's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2012 - 11:54am

Lorna - Concerning your statement, " Howard didn't follow up on Steve Hyde's cheery, triumphant comment about ...".

I'm only guessing, but, I think if Howard had asked Mr. Hyde every conceivable question that might be of interest to the readers here, he'd still be at the meeting.

As a person that was, (a) born into a small-farm family, (b) grew up around small farms, and (c) spent several teen years working on a small dairy farm, I think I understand your passion on this matter. But, as you were ALSO at that meeting, I'm wondering why YOU didn't ask those questions of Mr. Hyde. Were questions only allowed from "news-site" personnel, or was the general public also able to query the speakers? Just asking.

Oh, and not that it matters THAT much to most, but, Howard's last name is Owens, not Owen.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

Thumbs up, Ed, for noting the correct spelling of my name. Always bugs me when people leave the S off, though when my great-great-great-great grandfather immigrated here from Wales and arrived in Pomoroy, Ohio, he didn't have an S on his last name.

Many of the issues raised by Lorna have been addressed in prior reporting. I see no point in rehashing old points.

There are also a number of "questions" that are based on incorrect information or assumptions, so hardly the fodder of any legitimate journalistic pursuit.

O-AT-KA has benefited from tax abatements previously, and currently, as in the expansion under construction now.

The O-AT-KA plant is co-owned by DFA, along with Upstate Milk Cooperative, so do I ask DFA about how DFA feels about DFA expanding in Batavia?

Unless you believe DFA is run by a bunch of business idiots, clearly they see a need for expansion here, or they wouldn't be going to that expense. It's a huge expensive, even if they're getting that Muller plant for only 20 or 30 percent of the $200 million Pepsi spent on it, plus millions more to retrofit the plant for milk product processing other than yogurt, so DFA wouldn't be undergoing that expense and effort unless the leadership believed it could be done so profitably. Industry sources tell me DFA has long thought it was way under capacity in the northeast, missing a huge chunk of the available market.

We've already covered what happens to the existing local tax abatements related to the Mullar plant and what might or might not be available to DFA from the state.

"has investigated if Genesee County can support 2 similar milk processing companies ..."

Economics 101: The market will expand to support what it needs to support. That's what drives economic growth.

I've not addressed Lorna's previous comments because those, like this one, are based on so many bad assumptions and tidbits of misinformation that they're impossible to address in a limited amount of time.

I stand by my reporting of the meeting. I believe it accurately reflects what happened at the meeting and covers the most salient and interesting points.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

Lorna, also, one of your questions at the meeting that had me shaking my head was about why there was no training to prepare local workers to work at the yogurt plants.

Here's our prior coverage on that issue:

http://www.thebatavian.com/search/gcc%20food%20processing

GCEDC worked closely with GCC to develop these programs.

You also asked why GCEDC isn't doing anything to train farm workers.

Why would that be a job of GCEDC? There's already Cornell Cooperative and various programs such as 4-H that provides that training.

It strikes me that you're grasping at straws to find reasons to dislike something rather than looking at the real facts of the case.

Dave Meyer
Dave Meyer's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 3 months ago
Joined: Feb 4 2009 - 5:37am

I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know this, so I'd appreciate someone educating me.

Where does the authority come from for the GCEDC (and other local development agencies) to negotiate these various PILOTs and other agreements that (to paraphrase Ms. Klotzbach) "deny the County and Towns their share of sales tax revenue.".

I'm the first one to admit that I've been critical of the GCEDC on many occasions in the past but I don't actually know from where they derive their authority.

I'm ready to be educated.

Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

IDAs (industrial development agencies) were created by state law in 1969. Their authority and regulation derive from state law.

Whether towns and the city "deserve" "their share" of sales tax revenue is based on some assumptions not everybody would agree with. First, the county gets all the sales tax and kindly, pretty much, shares sales tax with local jurisdictions. That isn't the case in all counties in NYS, and some counties share less than GC. The local sales tax rate is 8 percent. Four percent goes to the state and four to the county, and the county shares a portion of that with municipal governments. Some counties have lower sales tax rates.

Then there's the issue of the fact that without tax abatements, arguably, projects don't get built, and thus, no new taxes generated. You can't share something from nothing. And you don't miss something you never had.

Then there is the argument that if a project creates jobs and those jobs lead to more local spending, then there is more local sales tax for the county to share.

I realize critics of GCEDC won't agree with that analysis, but that is a counter-weight argument to Lorna's statement.

Lorna Klotzbach
Lorna Klotzbach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 20 2010 - 10:27am

Mr. Owens, (I apologize for leaving off the s), my issue is that the matters have NOT been addressed in other posts, which is why I bring them up here!

As for asking Mr. Hyde the question, did you not hear Mr. Hyde's hostile tone when he tried to shush me from asking the questions that I did?

As for the question of OATKA's survival, you have now reassured me that they will survive and people's jobs preserved, because I did not know that they were owned by the purchaser of the defunct yogurt plant. I am relieved....

As for the sarcastic question about why a company would invest millions of dollars in a venture that might not pay off, I refer you to the yogurt plant, Lowe's....And none of Genesee County's taxpayers getting any refund of misused money!

As for Economics 101--If there is not enough land to grow feed for cows to produce milk to fill the processing machines of two dairy production plants...then, one of them will go out of business...or we will import milk from out of state...or out of country...which will increase its costs for producers and processors...which will raise its price for consumers...who have already been taxed to pay for the yogurt plant AND the industrial site which used up some of the farmland directly and devloped a whole lot more of it!

As for the question of the Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H--you must not know about their budget cuts and staff reductions of recent years...or how, in each of the past three years when I have asked my incoming class of students, "how many of you are in 4H or have heard of 4H?" I have had only one or two students each year raise hands to affirm that they are members, or have even heard of it! Sadly, no job-training going on there.

As for training local farm workers, have you asked the local farmers if the BOCES animal science program, or whatever other training program you think exists, is giving students the skills to work on Genesee County farms, i.e., livestock feeding and handling, vegetable/berry/tree farming skills, crop science, knowledge of tree/berry bush pruning, equipment operation, flower production, container growing, or any other such useful farming skills?

If the "programs" for training agricultural workers exist and are so successful, then why do we have so many imported workers, legal and illegal, to do the jobs farmers say they can't find anyone else skilled enough to do? Who is relying on "tidbits of misinformation?"

As for me "grasping at straws" and not "looking at the real facts of the case" may I remind you that I have been sitting in WNY STAMP-related meetings for the better part of the last decade, hearing the GCEDC's presentations change, listening to the behind-the-scenes questions, debates, reading hundreds of pages of documents, directed to research how to change our zoning laws so they would fit the requirements of STAMP so it would be legal to bring it to Alabama after the county planning board, town council and GCEDC approved a plan that contradicts our Comprehensive Plan and zoning.

Unlike the reporters that pop in for photos and postive comments about projected economic splendors, based on potential, possible growth, I have heard the contradictions, the withdrawal of promised benefits, the planned foisting of expensive infrastructure on Alabama's few tax-payers to the point that I do not trust the GCEDC to tell me the sky is blue on a sunny day!

I assure you that I recognize that 1366 seems to have developed an innovative technology that could make solar energy more affordable. I researched the company and watched a dozen videos and looked up where their funding is coming from....it would, indeed, be a wonderful company to come to Western New York. It would be wonderful if it would come and choose a location that already has sewer, water, gas, electric, highways and bridges, fire protection, police protection, available housing, shopping facilities and all of the necessary things that NY/Genesee County/Alabama tax-payers will now be paying to create in the middle of farmland and wildlife habitats! This, at the same time, as existing industrial sites sit empty!!

The GCEDC's initial engineering/consulting firm gladly scooped up the first million or so of our dollars to sell the project as "beautiful... to be made of high-quality materials...no smoke stacks...attractive so it will attract high-quality workers...with walking and biking trails throughout...." Have you asked 1366 how many miles, or yards, or feet of trails they are going to install and maintain? Have you asked the GCEDC or town officials about how those negotiations over actually using high-quality building materials are going?

I have always said that I would have not resisted this project if
#1: It was located in an urban, already-industrialized location so that it could be built at a responsible cost, rely on existing infrastructure, and did not destroy irreplacable farmland. #2: If the project and its consequences had been HONESTLY presented to the town and county residents who said their primary concerns were jobs, high traffic and preservation of rural character.
Steve Hyde said local residents would not be given any hiring preference at any stage of the project development.
The residents said the traffic is already too much and the DOT said our roads and intersections can handle several hundred more cars per hour before any mitigations need to be considered.
An engineer/consultant stood on the Alabama town hall steps and said, with some vehemence and exasperation about the residents continuing to lament the loss of rural character (and freedoms) if STAMP progressed, "Don't you understand why there is no mention in the FGEIS of mitigating the loss of rural character?!? It's because you can't!! It's going to be lost! Don't you understand?"

Disagree with my opinion on whether it's a good idea if Alabama has a STAMP site if you will, but please don't say that I don't grasp the essence of the issues. I understand very much of what the GCEDC has done to Alabama over this issue, and the tactics they are using to ram this project through. Judge by their past projects if the pay-offs will offset the costs.

Post new comment

Log in or register to post comments

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button