November 12, 2013
The new labor policy means that construction companies that receive Niagara County IDA incentives will have to recruit at least 90-percent of their workforce from counties in Western New York.
IDA Board Member Steve Brady says the policy makes sure that county residents directly benefit from the work being done in their neighborhood. “Obviously we want them to look at Niagara County first, but that includes Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming, Genesee, and Orleans counties.”
Developers will also be required to submit quarterly reports on where workers live. There will also be a system of spot checks to ensure they meet the requirements until the job’s over. Brady says that shouldn’t impede development. “There are some exceptions that would be allowed, particularly in the instance if someone is installing a piece of equipment that requires very specialized knowledge to install or perhaps might void a warranty if it’s not done by the person that manufactured that piece of equipment the project applicant can apply for a waiver in those circumstances.”
Rochester Institute of Technology Economics Professor Amit Batabyl says the strategy has good intentions, but it doesn’t take into account the skill level of the available workforce. “The problem with this type of policy is that it doesn’t pay any attention to necessarily hiring the most qualified people. What if the most qualified construction workers happen to be outside of the eight county area, then do we not hire them and hire less qualified people just because where they are resident?”
But, President of the Buffalo Building Trades Council Paul Brown disagrees. “Workers locally are really, really highly trained and skill wise there is nobody that does better than workers here.”
Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker says he believes the policy is a win, win for everyone. He says it will keep much needed jobs in the area and stop money from leaving upstate New York.