The Town of Brighton's public works committee held an informal meeting with several businessmen who would like to fast-track an application to redraw the town's Empire Zone boundaries to include an abandoned office building on 200 Canal View.
The building, which contains 59,000 square feet of office space, has been vacant for four years, though there are two companies ready to move in... but only if it is designated as part of the Empire Zone, with all the incentives and tax breaks that follow.
Normally, the Empire Zone boundaries are redrawn once a year, and that won't happen until this summer. The owners of the building, Flaum Management, said the delay could cost Monroe County business and revenue, as the two companies ready to rent have out-of-state options that New York must compete with.
The state allowed the exception and sent the applicants to the county level, where approval was granted 28 to 1 at last week's legislative meeting. Now, it is up to the Brighton Town Board, which votes April 28.
Ray Tierney, who chairs Brighton's public works committee, said he was concerned that the Empire Zone program allows businesses to play one state against the other to keep a company from relocating.
"Free enterprise is wonderful, but this isn't free enterprise because it is done in concert with government incentives," he said.
Mark Redding, president of Impact Technologies, one of the companies that wants to occupy 200 Canal View, said he would prefer to add new jobs at his Rochester location, but has "maxed out" his company's current office space. The business's other location is in Pennsylvania, which has offered $1 million in incentives to expand there. He does not want to, he said, but without a counter-offer of some kind from New York, it would make more sense to grow in Pennsylvania.
"The single biggest incentive New York State can offer us is Empire Zones. It's a prerequisite for us," Redding said.