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Costing the Globe deal

Some thoughts on the Globe Metals deal I cost out today in The News.

From a purely green economic development perspective, this is great news. Adding some 500  good-paying green-collar jobs in the emerging solar industry is big. And setting aside 25 percent of the silicon produced at the plant for solar panel manufacturers the state hopes to attract shows forward thinking on the part of the Empire State Development Corp., which negotiated the deal.

Enthused Bill Nowak of the Green Gold Development Corp.:

"This is a very good foundation to build on. If there is going to be a public subsidy, this is the kind of business it should be directed to. We're building for the future with this."

But the public subsidies involved are staggering.

Discounts on hydropower alone approach $30,000 per job, per year. There are big tax breaks through the Empire Zone program that state officials have yet to fully calculate, and and tax credits will reduce, if not if not eliminate, Globe's corporate tax bill to the state for years. I imagine there are federal tax breaks to be had, as well, although I could not confirm that in time for today's story.

By my calculations, Globe, for its $60 million investment, will get power discounts and state tax breaks worth $155 million to $180 million over 10 years. That works out to, ballpark, $310,000 to $360,000 per job.

Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, the smartest guy I know on subsidies, is not as cranked on the project as Nowak. Said LeRoy:

"It's poetic that power from moving water will help capture power from the sun while creating jobs in a community that needs them. This is a real "poster-child" story, the kind of story that public officials are prone to overspend for."

I'd really like to hear from readers on this, especially green activists and economic developers. And all you taxpayers, of course. It would be nice if posters used their real name -- I'm getting tired of snippy comments by those who use pen names. I put my name to my words, and think readers should do likewise.

I'm also including an online poll below that I'll keep open through the long weekend. One vote per person.



Economic Development | Green | Hyrdopower | Subsidies
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