In this era of “alternative facts” and “fake news” it is sometimes extremely difficult to debate a point even when you have “facts” on your side.
Back in the day, newsmen like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and Harry Reasoner appeared on the network news each night just giving us the news, without sharing their comments or opinions. As you know, my job is to promote economic development. With those broadcasting icons in mind I will try to present an unbiased look at four major corporate investment projects and their bottom line impacts on the Orange County economy.
In the world of economic development where we are charged with the mission to enhance the economy with the creation of new jobs, the best vehicle to help convince stakeholders of a project’s true benefit is to calculate the capital investment of companies that contribute to our tax base and the multiplier that ripples through our local business community.
The easiest way to quantify the value attached when companies choose to expand in our county/local municipalities and school districts, is to simply look at the numbers.
LEGOLAND New York
There were many debates over the LEGOLAND project and the public always had a seat at the table as they voiced concerns during the approval process. We have a democratic system that works and when all was considered, the economic impact numbers made a powerful statement that convinced town officials this project would be a benefit now and, in the years, to come.
The project will involve a total capital investment of $500 million and will create more than 1,000 jobs. The resort and hotel development will attract 1.5 million to 2.5 million tourists per year and will generate $46.75 million in taxes during the 20-year PILOT and $4.27 million each year after the PILOT expires.
In addition, Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of LEGOLAND, will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in negotiated community benefits each year.
The San Francisco-based pharmaceutical firm opened its 340,000-square-foot distribution facility in Hamptonburgh four years ago. The $80-million project created 164 good-paying jobs.
The firm negotiated a 15-year PILOT that will generate $10.6 million in taxes during the life of the agreement and another $1.4 million each year once the PILOT expires.
Medline Industries Inc.
The Northfield, Ill., health care services firm is building a 1.3-million square-foot distribution facility in the Town of Montgomery. The firm will relocate from its facility in Wawayanda to the larger complex that involves a $120-million investment. Medline will also relocate its workforce of 340 and plans to add 250 new positions in coming years. The project has created another 300 construction jobs.
During the duration of the 10-year term under 485-b, Medline will be paying approximately $22.9 million in taxes and another $3.17 million each year in taxes once the 485-b has expired.
Online consumer giant Amazon is spending $75 million to build a more than 1-million-square-foot distribution facility in the Town of Montgomery. The project will create a total of 1,100 jobs, including 300 construction jobs and 800 full-time employees once operational. The community benefits include $22.5 million during its 15-year PILOT and an estimated $2.735 million each year once the PILOT agreement ends.
What if these firms never came? The combined reduction in school taxes alone would equal approximately $40 million in the next 10 years.
Economic development produces results
The COVID pandemic caused significant harm to the economy of the Hudson Valley. Since the shutdown ended, thanks to projects such as those profiled above, the jobs market has been steadily improving.
On Aug. 19, the New York State Department of Labor released the latest employment statistics for the Hudson Valley that proves our efforts are paying off, but also indicates that there is much more work to be done.
Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley increased by 54,800 or 7.8%, to 761,300 in the 12 months ending July 2021. Gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+25,500), trade, transportation and utilities (+11,100), educational and health services (+9,500), professional and business services (+7,200), other services (+2,300), manufacturing (+1,300), natural resources, mining and construction (+400) and information (+300). Employment losses were greatest in financial activities (-2,800).
While the region’s private sector employment has regained a large portion of the jobs lost, it remains 66,700, or 8.1% below the pre-pandemic levels of July 2019.
The Orange County Partnership will continue to advocate for beneficial projects that produce well-paying jobs that will allow our residents to enjoy the quality of life we, our children and our grandchildren have come to cherish here.
Maureen Halahan is the president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership.