Jan 23


Another subsidized tenant for STAMP

Nothing is getting built at the industrial park in Genesee County without tax breaks. The latest company to sign on is getting $39 million and there's more to come.

A remote industrial park in Genesee County will soon have its second tenant: Edwards Vacuum, a company that manufactures equipment used in the semiconductor industry.

But luring Edwards Vacuum, a British company, to the Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park, or STAMP, has come at a cost: $39.2 million in taxpayer subsidies. That’s in exchange for 600 jobs over the next decade, with 343 being hired in the next three years.

And that’s just the beginning. In addition to $22 million in subsidies from Empire State Development, New York’s economic development arm, and $17.2 million in property and sales tax breaks from Genesee County, Edwards Vacuum is expected to apply for CHIPS Act incentives, as well as discounted hydropower from the New York Power Authority.

Read the application for Genesee County tax breaks

It’s not yet clear how much in subsidies Edwards Vacuum will seek under the CHIPS and Science Act, federal legislation enacted last year that earmarked $39 billion for manufacturing incentives nationwide. Micron, a semiconductor manufacturer establishing a $100 billion plant near Syracuse, is also set to receive funding under the program, in addition to $6 billion in state incentives. 

It’s also not clear what the dollar amount of the company’s discounted hydropower will be. NYPA spokesperson Paul DeMichele refused to comment, not even to confirm whether the company has filed an application.

So far, the cost per job clocks in at $65,333. The company said it plans to pay an average of $28.29 per hour, with salaries ranging from $51,000 to $86,000 per year.

Read the state’s subsidy award to Edwards Vacuum

The 257,000 square-foot plant represents a third round of subsidies for STAMP, located halfway between Buffalo and Rochester in the rural Town of Alabama, population 1,900. The 1,250 acre industrial park replaced farmland and forests.

STAMP has been developed with more than $30 million in public funds and its first tenant, Plug Power, previously won $270 million in tax subsidies, which worked out to $4 million per job.

Reinvent Albany, a good government group that’s been critical of STAMP, questioned the incentives for Edwards Vacuum.

“The price tag on this STAMP development keeps going up and up,” said Elizabeth Marcello, a senior research analyst. “Not only did ESD and the county spend oodles tax dollars to develop the site, now they have to subsidize individual tenants.”

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Edwards Vacuum plans to use its Genesee County facility to manufacture dry pumps, an oil-free vacuum used in the making of semiconductors.

The company has pitched itself as integral to the semiconductor supply chain, and has said it will be an equipment manufacturer for customers like Micron, Texas Instruments, Intel and other companies committing to U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing as a result of the CHIPS and Science Act. Semiconductors are used in a wide range of electrical devices, from cars to smart phones. 

The subsidies for Edwards Vacuum’s facility in Genesee County break down like this:

  • $21 million in state Excelsior Jobs Credits. Those credits are tied to job creation, and Edwards Vacuum must hire at least 600 workers to receive the full subsidy. 
  • $12.9 million in property tax exemptions from Genesee County.
  • $4.3 million in sales tax exemptions to build and equip the factory.
  • $1 million in state workforce development grants.

Edwards Vacuum plans to invest $212 million in its first phase, and up to $319 million for future phases, according to applications for incentives that Investigative Post reviewed.

In addition to the prospect of CHIPS and Science Act incentives, the company was lured to Genesee County by Sen. Chuck Schumer personally, who’s said in statements that he urged the company to pick STAMP for its expansion in the United States. 

“I told Edwards Vacuum’s top brass last month there was no better site than STAMP to locate a new plant and I’m glad they heeded my call,” Schumer said in November when the deal was first announced. 

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But Marcello, of Reinvent Albany, criticized the “political storytelling” surrounding the incentives for Edwards Vacuum and STAMP. Subsidies for businesses, she said, are “not based on fact.”

“In reality, we know that business subsidies actually have very little to do with where businesses locate,” she said. “This whole concept of having little tax havens is unfair and harmful to existing businesses.”

Investigative Post

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