The Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday rubber-stamped nearly $3 million in tax breaks for Moog, the defense contractor based in Elma.
It was the 14th round of assistance from the agency since the 1970s. The IDA has now approved $12.8 million in subsidies for six Moog projects since 2006.
Moog, a profitable company that netted $155 million last year, has won federal contracts in the past decade totaling more than $6 billion. The company manufactures parts for fighter jets, missile launchers, rocket ships and submarines. Federal contracts make up about half of its total business, while private aviation, aerospace and industrial customers make up the other half.
The company made a case to the IDA this month that it could take its planned expansion to Utah, Georgia, North Carolina or South Carolina if it failed to secure $2.9 million in sales and property tax breaks.
The subsidy package includes $2 million in sales tax abatements and $901,000 in property tax reductions. The company’s savings will come at the expense of the coffers of the Town of Elma, the Iroquois Central School District, Erie County and New York state.
By approving the deal, the IDA will earn between $450,000 and $500,000 in fees.
The incentives, the company told the IDA, would support the first of a three-phase project to build a new manufacturing plant on its Elma campus. The $76.8 million facility would allow the company to manufacture parts for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the successor to the Black Hawk helicopter. That contract could ultimately be worth billions.
The first phase will not create any new jobs, while preserving 180 positions. The company has pledged phases two and three will create additional employment.
IDA board members on Wednesday heaped praise on Moog, calling the company a “fantastic civic leader” making a “significant investment” that was “exactly the type of project we want.” The vote to approve the subsidies was unanimous.
Moog’s representatives at the meeting, including Vice President Connie Buynacek, beamed after the vote. She declined to comment when approached by Investigative Post after the meeting.
IDA Board Chair Brenda McDuffie, in a brief interview, disputed the notion that granting 14 subsidies to Moog was part of a pattern. She also defended the IDA’s support of a “healthy company.”
“They can support themselves, but they are eligible for subsidies if the board determines it’s appropriate and meets our standards and they agree to the conditions of those standards,” McDuffie said. “And so they do.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, an IDA board member, also defended the subsidies.
“Moog is committed to this community and I think we also have to show them — when they are investing $70 million plus in a project that is going to eventually create many more jobs in our community — it’s something we should be supporting,” Poloncarz said.
At a March 9 IDA meeting, Buynacek, of Moog, said the lieutenant governor of Utah had offered the company incentives to build its expansion in Salt Lake City. Buynacek said the company was considering taking the deal — or potentially locating down South — if the IDA didn’t support its project.
“We’re intending to do the expansion, this allows us to do it in Western New York,” she said.
Poloncarz — who said he had concerns about phase one of Moog’s project creating no new jobs — said such threats are part of what IDAs deal with.
“It’s not an idle threat for a lot of companies. And these jobs are not minimum wage jobs, these are engineers, these are machinists that are making very good money,” he said.
“I take Moog at their word that this will lead to phases two and three.”
Experts from both Albany and Washington, D.C. criticized aspects of the IDA’s deal with Moog in an Investigative Post story published Tuesday.
Poloncarz dismissed the criticism.
“This is a growing company,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really care what they’re saying in D.C. about what we’re doing here. I care about what I hear from the people in Erie County.”