Rochester Midland Corporation was founded in Monroe County in 1888. But several years ago, the cleaning supply manufacturer nearly left New York State.
"We hit a point where we were out of space and running very inefficiently from two different buildings," chairman Harlan Calkins said. "And really were on our way out of Monroe County and to North Carolina when Judy Seil and the IDA team came up with a package to keep us here."
The corporation has new space in Ogden. Calkins says the county's industrial development agency (COMIDA) offered local and state tax incentives to stay. COMIDA has been giving tax breaks to spur economic growth since 1969. Executive Director Judy Seil says Rochester Midland received several breaks, including a state sales tax exemption amounting to $160,000.
"There's no question that we would have moved had Judy not put the package together," Calkins said.
A provision in Governor Cuomo's proposed budget would take away state sales tax exemptions from local approval.
"Some of the IDA programs give tax breaks to businesses and that can be very effective. But, I want to make sure they are actually bringing new jobs into this state," Governor Cuomo said.
Cuomo says he wants to hold companies to higher standards. To receive the state's excelsior tax credit, a project must create jobs and not just retain them.
"A lot of the downtown development that we've worked on over the years with the city of Rochester to rejuvenate downtown wouldn't even have gotten to the point of qualifying," Seil said.
Seil cited the downtown ESL Credit Union headquarters and Midland as two examples. Neither created enough jobs under the excelsior guidelines, but they are valuable projects. In fact, Seil says 90 percent of Rochester development would not qualify for Excelsior tax credits. Still, she says that does not mean their approval process is any more lenient.
"No I don't think so. The excelsior program, I think they have certain limits. We are more geared toward small business," she said.
Seil wants the measure removed from the budget because it is not small business-friendly and adds another layer of government.
"When you're doing business, you have to do it at business speed...make sure we get the approval done in an expedient manner," she said.
Cuomo does not seem likely to waver on the issue.
"That's a waste of taxpayer dollars. It doesn't create any jobs. It doesn't create any new economic growth. It's just a boon doggle," he said.
To learn more about COMIDA, click here.