. . . or "Why government shouldn't play entrepreneur" . . .
Yesterday's OD had an article The Marcy nano site: what now? That's a good question!
While this blogger believes that EDGE is correct in that its site should be permitted, EDGE is dealing with administrative agencies (Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency) whose missions, protecting the environment, produce natural inclinations to expand their jurisdictions, prohibit everyone from doing anything, and force all who disagree to go through litigation where the deck is stacked against them. Even when a victory limiting an agency is won, as in the 2006 Rapanos Decision, it is often after a great toll, and what the victory actually means on the ground may still be unclear. These inclinations have only increased under the current administration in Washington where Executive Orders and guidance documents have pushed the limits of the law.
Prudent investors simply avoid getting involved with such situations.
But we are not dealing with prudent investors. We are dealing with EDGE and Oneida County involving tax dollars, governmental power, and strong personalities. The wetlands issue has been known since 2001. Where private investors would long ago have insisted upon a permit before spending another dime, we continued to send our people around the world, build infrastructure, confiscate private farmland, and make plans for a chip-fab that may never come.
Of course we could always get lucky and have a manufacturer
come here that is willing to deal with the ACE issue, but what is the
chance of that when they can go anywhere in the world?
Surprising for an administrative decision, the Army Corps of Engineers described Marcy NanoCenter as a "build it and they will come" project. That was derisive. If past is prologue, and consistent with other County-led efforts such as the Airport, the Sewer District and the Water Authority, we'll continue to dig in our heels, make things even "bigger" and "better," marginalize those who disagree with us as naysayers, and create a "too big to fail" situation that requires another level of government to step in.
I propose skipping all the local taxpayer-sapping interim steps and bring in another level of government now.
EDGE and the County need to turn this problem over to Big Guns who are better equipped to deal with the Federal government and have as much, if not more, at stake: the State of New York. The State, after all, certainly talks a good game of being "open for business," has big plans for SUNYIT, and hangs its hat on a high tech future. SEMI-NY was a State initiative. The State designated Marcy NanoCenter as one of its key development sites. The State supposedly has economic development expertise. The State has environmental expertise, has working relationships with the Federal environmental agencies, and even has a potential to assume some of the federal authority in certain circumstances. Marcy NanoCenter is beyond local capabilities to pull off.
That done, the county needs to discontinue its "entrepreneur" approach to "economic development." That is the responsibility of the private sector. Instead, the county needs to focus on its job of governing in a manner that ensures taxpayers get value for their dollars.
Well-run, competent, and efficient government will be the region's best economic development incentive.