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STATISTICS DON'T SUPPORT PLEA TO KEEP FUNDING EMPIRE ZONES

In a letter signed by the presidents of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the case was made to continue funding for the New York State Empire Zone program. They said Empire Zones "are one of the most effective tools . . . to attract new jobs." They said they "retain many businesses, and thousands of jobs" and are a far cry from "corporate welfare . . . benefits are performance-based."

These comments are in stark contrast to findings by the state comptroller. In 2004, the office reviewed records of 98 businesses in the two zones in Buffalo. Only 22 percent met or exceeded job-creation goals, 42 percent created jobs but did not meet goals and 33 percent did not meet goals or reduced jobs. The total number of jobs created was 1,440. Eleven businesses that reduced staff and claimed tax benefits received tax breaks totaling $1,434,988. Sixteen businesses received tax breaks that exceeded benefits to the community, $800,000. Three of the 98 businesses couldn't be evaluated because their applications could not be found.

This is not "corporate welfare," it is more like fraud perpetrated on the taxpayers.

Frank J. Hotchkiss

Angola, Staff Representative

United Steelworkers of America