Sunday, July 24, 2005

Who controls EDGE?

The article in today's Observer-Dispatch about EDGE's recent "no-bid" contract on paint raises more questions than it answers.

One paragraph in the article was particularly provocative:

". . . But although about one-third of EDGE's $1.1 million annual budget comes from Oneida County, most of its budget is not made up of public funds. Much of EDGE's money comes from real estate revenue at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, privately raised funds and membership dues . . . "

This raises three questions:

1) Why are real estate revenues from Griffiss Business and
Technology Park not "public funds?" Wasn't the Technology Park formerly federal property given to the public, or was it given to a private group?

2) From whom is EDGE accepting "privately raised" funds and why?

3) Why are there "membership dues" and who are "members?"

It's reasonable to expect that whoever controls EDGE's money can exercise influence over EDGE's actions.

The article also reveals that EDGE is a private "not-for-profit" corporation," that EDGE has Griffiss Local Development Corp. as its main subsidiary, that EDGE also has a "for-profit" subsidiary called 394 Hangar Road Corp., and that these entities have differing procurement policies. More questions are raised: Who are the shareholders of EDGE? Who are the shareholders of the subsidiaries? Who elected their various boards of directors? Who is on the boards? Why do the subsidiaries have differing status regarding profits? Who is entitled to the profits? Is anybody getting a dividend?

There is much more at stake than EDGE's procurement practices. The real issue is whether Oneida County's industrial development policymaking authority has been usurped by a group of private individuals who are, essentially, acting in their own interests.

If anyone has answers to these questions, please post them here.

[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Creating taxpayer-supported jobs to funnel money into private investors' pockets

Articles in the Albany Times Union and the NY Times trumpet a new initiative in "job creation" involving heavy state investment in the U Albany NanoTech complex.

According to the Albany Times Union article: Nanotech initiative called boost for state:

The unveiling of the International Venture for Nanolithography, or Invent, promises to bring another 200 people to Albany NanoTech. . . The seven-year, $600 million project includes about $180 million from the state, including $105 million already earmarked by the Assembly. IBM is expected to provide $80 million, while the three other chipmakers will contribute $40 million each. The rest, $220 million, will come from other companies involved in the effort.

According to the New York Times article: A New Microchip Project Is Begun at Albany Center:

The growth of the technology sector here got a big boost in 2002, when Governor Pataki helped lure Sematech . . .
Since the Sematech deal, the state has given $535 million to start projects at Albany NanoTech . . .There are currently 645 people working at NanoTech, officials said, which is shy of the 1,000 it was hoped would be working there by now.

These dollar numbers are large making it somewhat difficult to grasp their significance. Doing a little math puts things in perspective.

The state has already spent $535 million over the last 3 years to provide employment to 645 people (shy of the goal of 1000). That works out to $276,000 per person per year.

The new deal being announced this week will throw in another $180 million of state money over 7 years to bring in 200 more people. That works out to almost $129,000/person per year.

By 2012, the state would have contributed $715,000,000 over 10 years to this project to, hopefully, employ 845 workers: that's almost $85,000 per worker per year (assuming that 845 people would have actually worked for the 10 years which will not be the case)!

While the newspapers talk of the "state" making these contributions, it is really the state's taxpayers who are paying the bill. Since the taxpayers are subsidizing the Research and Development budgets which are the responsibility of the likes of IBM, such companies are being allowed to pocket the amounts as profits.

This is not economic development. It's creating taxpayer-supported jobs to funnel money into private investors' pockets.

[For FOLLOWUP COMMENTS see Utica Area Discussions]

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