Tag Archives: business development

The Cost of 9 IDAs in Buffalo-Niagara

15 Dec

Assemblyman Sean Ryan (A-144) held a press conference yesterday to protest the way in which Industrial Development Agencies in Erie County do business. Specifically done in response to the Amherst IDA’s granting of an incentive package to facilitate Premier Liquor & Gourmet’s move from Kenmore to Amherst, Ryan issues three documents outlining the cost/benefit to running nine separate IDAs in Erie and Niagara Counties. By comparison, New York City has only one IDA.

This chart outlines the cost of these tax breaks, and what other things they might have bought, and then compares the annual IDA tax subsidies that are granted each year in New York State against the much-touted Regional Economic Council regional plans submitted and reported on in Albany last week:

IDA chart : Assemblyman Sean Ryan//

Ryan avers that the IDAs have an incentive to remain open as separate entities, and to grant property and sales tax breaks even in cases where one WNY community is poaching from another – the fact that each announced IDA transaction results in a fee to the IDA itself.

IDA Report – Assemblyman Sean Ryan//

Even more egregiously, if the IDA recipient business fails to meet its obligation to create jobs, there is no recourse or “clawback” provision. The common misconception is that IDA incentives exist to lure businesses to the area. Yet Ryan’s study reveals that, of all 71 incentive packages given by the IDAs in Erie and Niagara Counties in 2010, exactly one was to attract a business from out-of-state. The rest were for the expansion or intraregional relocation of existing businesses.

It’s high time the region started streamlining its business development and retention strategies in a coordinated, regional way. IDA incentives given to well-off local companies as a “freebie” with little to no return on investment, which oftentimes results in one WNY community poaching from another needs to stop. Assemblyman Ryan is on the right track here, and it echoes what Erie County Executive-elect Poloncarz was advocating during the last election cycle.


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Matt Chandler: Don’t Legalize the #BUFTruck

2 Nov

When last we Fisked a column by Matt Chandler of Buffalo Business First, he was busy imploring all the mean people to stop being mean to kind old racist Carl Paladino. Today, he publishes an article that is supportive of the food trucks in Buffalo, but then essentially asks the Common Council to stop crafting legislation that would legalize their operation.

As it stands now, the food trucks operate essentially as outlaws. They can sell food in the city so long as no one complains. But if someone does complain, there are no rules in place to protect anybody, and the trucks get chased away by the police. Trucks are permitted to operate on private property with permission, or along Buffalo Place in the central business district with a permit.

So, Chandler is exactly correct when he writes,

The argument is that trucks can park outside and siphon business away from bricks-and-mortar restaurants. The problem with that argument is simple: Ask people how they decide where to eat lunch and they’ll usually list a combination of the following: Who has the best food? Who has the fastest service? And who is most affordable?

It doesn’t matter if you are slinging dogs out of a cart, tacos from a truck or sandwiches out of a building, those factors drive customers.

The food trucks are simply another form of business competition, and competition is good.

If traditional restaurants are threatened, it should drive them to improve their product, deliver it with more efficiency and stay competitive in their pricing. At the end of the day, the customer wins.

But then, noting that the Common Council had tabled (again) proposed regulations, he asks them to leave it there. This completely ignores the fact that it’s the food trucks who are helping drive the debate on setting rules and regulations so that they are permitted to operate in the city without fear of being chased away arbitrarily and capriciously. Regulation is not a bad word when it protects the competing rights of mobile and stationary businesses to be treated fairly.

Currently, the proposals from the trucks and the brick & mortars are largely similar. Some differences exist – for instance, the trucks want a 200′ radius from the front doors of open kitchens, while the restaurants want the radius to emanate from the walls of any such restaurant, not just the front door. The restaurants want the city to set up special vending districts in city lots, and the trucks oppose this. The restaurants want “tax parity”, which is somewhat ridiculous. This is why we have legislatures and courts. Now, the lobbying begins in earnest. We know what each side’s proposal is.

So, after mounting an eloquent defense of the food trucks, Chandler ends with this:

With buildings crumbling, houses abandoned, schools a mess and jobs evaporating daily, don’t our elected officials have more important things to devote their time to?

As for me. I’m going to file this blog, then finish eating the delicious turkey sandwich I bought from the brick-and-mortar deli located 25 feet from a food truck. They prepared it fast, charged a reasonable price and, most important, it is delicious.

I can’t really think of a more pressing issue for city government to take up than freeing up a new business sector to do business in the city.  I can’t think of something more important for the legislature of a poor city to do than to help enable an entire, brand-new sector of small businesses with comparatively low startup costs to legally operate in the city. The Common Council shouldn’t forever table this bill – on the contrary, it should act on it as soon as possible, and do so in such a way that we end the status quo, which is tantamount to illegal protectionism of restaurants.

I wonder what deli is located 25 feet from a food truck?

Food Truck Tuesday & Nickel City Chef

25 Oct

1. The food truck debate continues apace. The food trucks and the brick & mortars on the ad hoc committee created to help draw up regulations that everyone could agree on has met a few times, and from what I can gather from the Twitter stream of Roaming Buffalo truck owner, Christopher Taylor, it didn’t go well.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RoamingBuffalo1/status/128213060295983104″%5D

The Common Council is to meet on the issue today at 2pm at City Hall, and the Food Truck Association is urging its supporters to join them. They suspect that a vote may be taken on proposed regulations today.  I’m not so sure it’ll all be resolved today, but one can always hope.

2. I’m very proud of my association with Nickel City Chef, and have been honored to judge several really epic battles between talented local chefs. I had urged its organizer, Spree food editor and Feed Your Soul owner Christa Glennie Seychew, to pull together a cookbook by the chefs, highlighting the food they prepared during their battles. That book is out, and its unveiling will be tonight at a party at Artisan Kitchen & Baths on Amherst Street between 6 and 9. 

If you can’t attend the party, you can order the book and DVD through this link. It makes a great gift for any Buffalo foodie, and celebrates Buffalo’s best chefs, and our best ingredients from small local farms.