Amazon is looking to finalize $124 million in tax incentives to build a new warehouse in New York.
The subsidy is one of the biggest the company has ever received and is part of a package of incentives offered by the Niagara County Industrial Growth Agency (IDA), which is responsible for stimulating industrial development in the region.
The plan is set to be completed this week.
Amazon is likely to receive $550 million to develop a warehouse, which would produce 300 temporary construction jobs and over 1,000 permanent warehousing positions.
Those public money would be moved mainly from the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District’s income stream, which obtains roughly half of its revenue from local property taxes.
Critics fear the facility might lose the city more jobs than it creates, as Amazon warehouses have done elsewhere by negatively affecting local retail businesses, and that it would pay less than the vast majority of existing employment in Niagara County.
A letter from a coalition of labor unions and corporate watchdogs said: “A deal that doesn’t at least require one of the largest, richest corporations in the world to pay for community benefits, livable wages, and to mitigate clear environmental impacts, is no deal at all.”
The Amazon Labor Union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, and five state and local business monitoring groups all signed.
The Niagara Building Trades Council supports the arrangement despite the lack of a collective bargaining agreement, which labor organizations demanded but Amazon refused to deliver, according to council president Paul Brown.
The project will create “a lot of jobs for a lot of people,” Brown said.
For the past two years, local officials have been quietly preparing Niagara for the warehouse. Four county and municipal bodies have all overwhelmingly approved the agreement in recent months.
However, the public has only had a little time to weigh in, and several major parties, such as the school district and the state teachers organization, have kept silent.
Amazon established a big distribution warehouse in Schodack two years ago, receiving over $10 million in state and municipal tax benefits.
The Amazon lot was planned to get a set $55 million property assessment for the first 10 years under a property tax contract provided by the county during the project’s planning phases, upon which the tax incentives would be created.
Amazon dropped a proposal to develop a warehouse in the town of Grand Island, near Buffalo, in August 2020, in the face of overwhelming public opposition centered on problems such as traffic and pollution.
As both Amazon and the developer, Niagara authorities came out to propose their town as a development location after the Grand Island project was canceled.
However, the town’s plan to bring an Amazon warehouse was not made public until March. According to critics, this was done on purpose.