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The deal announced last week by Kathy Hochul and Chuck Schumer to bring a huge microchip plant to Central New York represents the biggest subsidy package in state history. Micron will receive $5.8 billion — yes, billion — in grants, tax breaks and other goodies to build a massive production facility north of Syracuse. (The Genesee County IDA’s STAMP industrial park strikes out again.) The announcement includes the usual hyperbole about jobs and green operations, which Reinvent Albany quickly put into proper context. The cost of subsidies works out to north of $640,000 per direct job — in a best-case scenario. That’s far more money than what the government — and the taxpayers who fund it — will ever recoup in tax revenue. But hey, the governor has an election to win just a month from now.
Speaking of wasteful subsidies, yet another of Cuomo’s pet projects is failing to deliver, this one in Dunkirk. The state spent $200 million to build a facility for Athenex Inc., a pharmaceutical company that now finds itself in danger of being delisted on the Nasdaq stock exchange because of poor financial performance. Athenex sold its leasehold interest to ImmunityBio, which The Buffalo News reported last week is cutting jobs. Fewer than 100 employees are working at the plant, far short of the mandated goal of 450 by the fifth year of operation. (A solid reporting job by Jon Harris.)
More subsidy news: The News reported Sunday that it’s taking more time than expected to wrap up the final details of a deal to have taxpayers pick up most of the tab to build a stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Sounds like the parties might be having a hard time agreeing on a community benefits agreement.
Speaking of The News, what’s up with all the house ads in the print edition? The local/business section in Friday’s paper included house ads that took up almost two full pages. Page after page of half-page house ads. This, in a section with only six staff-bylined stories. Not a good look, especially when The News recently cut crossword puzzles and three-quarters of its comics.
On the media front:
- The good news from the Pew Research Center: Only 6 percent of Americans regularly get their news from wacko right wing websites. The bad news: It’s still millions of people. Of note: The study did not include the toxic Fox News. There’s also a related story from The New York Times.
- Newspapers owned by the Alden Global Capital chain are getting out of the business of endorsing candidates for federal and statewide office. Candidate endorsements were once the staple of newspaper editorial boards, but Alden isn’t exactly an old-school newspaper owner. None of the chains are.
More research from Pew, this in the context of President Biden’s decision last week to pardon those convicted of the federal crime of marijuana possession. No fewer than 91 percent of Americans favor decriminalization for either recreational or medical purposes.
I’ve mostly stopped reading stories that speculate or predict what’s going to happen politically or with the economy. It’s lazy journalism; anyone can have an opinion. Tell me some facts. But, in the spirit of ending on a lighter note and with the hockey season about the start – yeah, I’m a big-time fan – I’ll share the NHL forecast by FiveThirtyEight. It projects the Sabres playing slightly above .500 hockey, earning 83 points, and having a 22 percent chance of making the playoffs. The real question is how much will Delaware North jack up beer prices.