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Buffalo News: Tax Incentives improve quality of life in County

 Tax incentives improve quality of life in county

A recent editorial and letter about the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's proposed policy to limit incentives on market rate senior housing did not accurately reflect the facts.

The ECIDA did not create a "new loophole," but rather is proposing a policy that is more restrictive than state law, encouraging housing development for seniors below or at median income, not higher, that allows seniors to age in place in their own communities.

The letter stated that "economic development is not community development." With more than 25 years of successful economic development experience, I strongly disagree. As an economic development agency, we have a responsibility to do what we can to improve our economy. The ECIDA policy committee is a broad-based group of community, business, labor and political leaders and economic development professionals who engage the community in the policy development process.

Further, it is not "mission creep," because state law specifically tasks IDAs with "promoting projects that improve the health, general prosperity, economic welfare and standard of living improving the quality of life" for our constituents. The proposed policy is sensitive to ensuring that developers charge appropriate rents for low-income seniors. For families who cannot otherwise find affordable senior housing close to home, this has a major positive effect on their quality of life.

Lastly, it is easy to criticize economic incentives because the benefits, such as job creation, mature over time. Their return on investment is often many times over the amount of the tax savings, but it does take time for the returns to be visible.

I encourage anyone to download our annual report from ecidany.com or call our office to learn about these incentives that keep Erie County competitive and improve the overall quality of life.

Steve Weathers

President & CEO, ECIDA