At the New York City Industrial Development Agency’s public hearing last week, two proposals generated notable controversy: one to bestow millions in tax breaks on Big Four accounting firm Deloitte LLP, and another to revive a subsidy agreement from 1998, still worth millions in unused credits, for information services giant Thomson Reuters. This past Tuesday, the IDA board approved both projects, but not before a handful of board members engaged in a robust dialogue with IDA staffers, especially on the Thomson Reuters proposal.
The Deloitte proposal could have benefited from an even more vigorous discussion. For one thing, it smells like the same old game in which companies pit states and regions against each other in bidding wars for investment. As an IDA staffer explained, the agency “took seriously” a “threat” that Deloitte would leave the city for “other opportunities,” namely New Jersey. (Deloitte LLP plans to use the subsidy to help pay for moving its headquarters from one highly prized Manhattan office location—midtown—to another—Lower Manhattan.) And yet IDA staff also reassured the board that the proposal wasn’t about retention, but about growth. As EDC President Seth Pinsky stated, Deloitte will get no benefits until it increases its employment numbers within NYC.
The rotten political culture in New York has forced ordinary New Yorkers to become increasingly savvy at making their voices heard, particularly when it comes to big development projects. And it’s making a difference.
The New York City Capital Resource Corporation (CRC) is blurring job numbers on stimulus bond projects again.
Is the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) cooking up different sets of job numbers for the City Point project depending on its audience?
Conflicting figures in hearings, meetings, official documents, and the press over the past week are cause for some raised eyebrows at the very least.