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Friday, 13 March 2015 10:01

The Price of Growth

By | News
The Price of Growth

Luther Forest Pushing for Tax Incentives to Further Develop Campus

SARATOGA COUNTY – Malta’s Luther Forest Technology Campus is home to a huge economic development project – the U.S. production site for GlobalFoundries Inc., the world’s second-largest computer chip manufacturing plant. 

Since settling into the Luther Forest Technology Campus, GlobalFoundries has shattered its projected growth. The $10 billion plant now employs roughly 3,000 people and is planning to expand its 1.7-million-square-foot foundry. Just last month, GlobalFoundries proposed adding nearly 500 parking spaces to Fab 8, bringing the total available parking to 2,832 spaces.

While a record incentives package totaling over $2 billion from New York state helped attract GlobalFoundries to the area, LFTC is struggling to acquire other technology-oriented tenants, as evidenced by the fact that the rest of the 1,400-acre campus remains undeveloped.

Representatives from LFTC say the campus needs local tax incentives to attract high-tech businesses and the thousands of jobs that they bring. Developers point out that local law blocks PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) incentives for Luther Forest and that the campus is not eligible for Start-Up New York incentive programs. 

The Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corporation (owner and developer) recently submitted a new draft environmental impact statement to the Malta Town Board, citing these concerns and is requesting certain amendments to the 2004 Luther forest Technology Campus Planned Development District.

The requests of LFTCEDC have the backing of the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA). The group has submitted a letter to Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville, citing its support.

“The State has invested approximately $120 million in infrastructure development to support the Campus…the towns, county and Agency have also invested their time and monies to ensure that the Campus is a success,” SCIDA stated in the letter. “Without the requested changes all that investment may continue to go unfulfilled. We urge the town decision makers to take affirmative action on the applicant's request.”

The SCIDA believes the amendments LTFCEDC is requesting are “the essential element” needed to attract new high-tech companies, capital investment and well-paying jobs to the county. The organization also says the prohibition against the granting of tax abatements (with the exception of GlobalFoundries) to those companies potentially interested in setting up shop in LFTC, puts the campus in a non-competitive position.

“GlobalFoundries is the only company in there {LFTC] after 10 years and it’s just not acceptable for many reasons. One being the public investment that was made here,” said Larry Benton, President of SCIDA. “People get hung up on granting tax incentives, but they’re a part of doing business today and attracting companies from state to state, from county to county.”

In fact, one of LFTC’s biggest competitors is the NYSERDA Step Park, which is located adjacent to the campus. Because the park is owned by NYSERDA, the businesses housed there – such as General Electric – are not required to pay property tax, according to Benton.

Benton and the SCIDA would also like to see the list of “allowable uses” of the campus expanded. During the initial planning of the campus, the focus was on the nano-technology industry; but since that zoning was adopted, GlobalFoundries continues to be the only tenant of LFTC. Benton says broadening the allowable uses could attract other high-tech businesses to the campus.

“The IDA has committed to making an investment of its own money into the park if these changes are made,” said Benton. “Hopefully reason will prevail…I think if these changes are made, we’re going to see some significant activity in there and it probably wouldn’t be too long before we get another company in there, in my opinion.”

Supervisor Sausville released his comments from the public hearing Monday, March 2 regarding LFTC’s third draft supplemental environmental impact statement. Sausville requested the developers address eight areas of their application: identify IDA tax abatement incentives; develop a campus financial plan; determine financial impact on government; determine future maintenance/repair of campus roads; show the depreciating assessment for semiconductor manufacturing; address Start-Up New York eligibility; sponsor a process for reviewing/revising proposed amendments; and evaluate  the application’s consistency with the Town of Malta’s Economic Development Plan.

Sausville could not be reached for comment. 

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