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Ward's gets dubious honor

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Ward's Natural Science has earned a dubious distinction: it's one of the inaugural inductees into the Corporate Tax Dodgers Hall of Shame.

The Hall of Shame, which is a satirical website, was created by the Getting Our Money's Worth Coalition, which is made up of labor and progressive activist groups from across the state. The website is meant to draw attention to companies that receive tax breaks but either fail to create jobs or create low-paying jobs, says a coalition press release. (Ward's Hall of Shame entry is online at http://gettingourmoneysworth.org/finger-lakes-vwr-international/)

Ward's parent company, VWR International, shut down a warehouse in Erie County after its tax breaks expired, the coalition says. Then it hired part-time workers at its Monroe County operation.

Last year, the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency gave VWR tax incentives for a $2.3 million expansion of its Henrietta warehouse. VWR also pledged to maintain its current level of employment in Monroe County and to even add additional positions.

A review by the state Authorities Budget Office, however, found that neither Ward nor COMIDA broke the law. COMIDA did not appear to condition the Monroe County tax breaks on Ward's relocating jobs from Erie County, the report says.

Instead, it looks like one subsidiary company created jobs while another continued to reduce its work force, the report says.

But the coalition says that Ward's parent company continues to benefit from taxpayer subsidies even though, when its Erie and Monroe County work forces are combined, it has actually cut jobs. That's why the coalition inducted the company into the Hall of Shame, it says.

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