I was driving recently, and I saw a sign bemoaning local job loss. The print was too fine for my old eyes to pick up, but it struck a cord with me, as I suspect it may with many local residents. I was determined to stop to read the detail, in hopes that it would buoy up my beleaguered spirit. I could not have been more mistaken. The sign led me to a website that suggested more government spending and intervention was the answer to the job loss we have been experiencing. It suggested that "new ideas," presumably fostered by the ignoramus that sponsored the site, would be the cure to all our job woes.
Let me tell you this area is awash with new ideas, and initiative, and resources. What it lacks is a competitive environment that will justify investors plunking down their hard-earned money to make them a reality. The website premise completely ignores that federal and state governance make up a much larger proportion of the taxes and regulations that throttle business. It is of note that the business success of the individual sponsoring this inane site was based nearly entirely on a customer/client base that is local. He did not have to compete across even a county line, let alone state lines or across the border. His perspective is myopic and dangerous!
Let me tell you from the prospective of a manufacturer that strives to compete across the northeast and into Canada. Ninety percent of the competitive situation is controlled by the federal and state governments. To suggest that more local government involvement would have staved off local job loss is naive to the point of danger. I wish I could in the space of this article detail the reasons each local job lost in recent history. Suffice it to say contrary to the implication in the website Chautauqua County is not disproportionately non-competitive as compared with other counties in New York. Not one of those local job loses was relocated to another community within New York.
NRG was shut down because of federal regulations, Job losses at Petri and other north county food processors were the result of a genocidal war New York State has on labor intensive industries. New York Workers comp., and unemployment insurance premiums make it 5-15 percent more expensive to employ workers in New York. Unless the employer can find a way to make his workers that much more productive he is at a competitive disadvantage.
But labor intensive business are not alone, every New York business is exposed to higher income taxes, higher transportation costs, higher energy, utility, and communication costs. Not one of these things is the fault of county government.
Don't get me wrong the role of county government in not inconsequential. Creative zoning, available utilities, and maintained infrastructure are important. But local property taxes are the key. You see, when businesses are forced to contract as a result of the aforementioned genocidal war, and as earnings slip to the point of being nonexistent. Property taxes still come due. They are the straw that breaks the camel's back.
There are over one million square feet of industrial and commercial space for sale or lease in Chautauqua County, we don't need a new industrial park or "new ideas" as to how to make them attractive to business. We need lower taxes.
Geoffrey Turner is a Westfield resident.