Meeting for January 17th, 2023Summary of COMIDA Meeting for January 17th, 2023
Observed by Deborah Rice Gordon
This COMIDA meeting can viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FDIf8ThW5s. A meeting was not held in December due to the lack of a quorum.
Raymond Ryerse, Jr., business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 86 in Rochester, gave public comments regarding the Amazon project on Manitou Road in Greece (also known as Amazon fulfillment center ROC 1). Requirements at the site have included the scanning of identification badges to enter and exit the area. Mr. Ryerse reported that the scanning requirement has become either lax or nonexistant, although the Board has been told that ID scanning is done 100% of the time. He asked that the Board consider this information in future deliberations concerning tax incentives and that his comments be added to the minutes of the meeting to become part of the public record.
A local labor monitoring report was given by Kevin Loweke. In December, the residency of 702 workers was checked with 6 having a non-compliance issue. As of December 31st, all monitored sites were in compliance. The percentage of local laborers at the Amazon Manitou site was 72.9%. A brief annual report was also given.
Brian LaFountain reported one local labor waiver request relating to a temporary shortage of a qualified crane operator.
A summary of the 2022 financial report was discussed. Due to the increased number of projects, COMIDA had a record year for income from project fees, totalling $8.8 million. The Board approved contributions totaling $4 million to workforce development programs.
Project Application Reviews:
Requests for sales tax exemptions, recording tax exemptions and/or real property tax abatements were approved for the following projects:
- Howitt-Bayview LLC for construction of a 60 unit, 4 story residential apartment building and a left turn lane from Empire Blvd onto Wilbur Tract Road in Webster as required by the Town of Penfield. The first floor of the building will be for seniors to include 7 units designated for affordable housing. Three units on the first floor will also be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessable. Possibly one labor exemption is anticipated.
- Whitney Baird Associates LLC and Security Risk Advisors (SRA) LLC for renovation and leasing of an office facility on Culver Road in Rochester.
The following modification requests were approved:
- CT Rochester LLC built a mixed-use development on leased property (college town development) owned by the University of Rochester. The University is acquiring the development and asked to assume the property tax abatement.
- FCP Driving Park LLC for approval to assume the property tax abatement granted to 1001 Driving Park LLC for a manufacturing facility.
- O’Connell Electric Company Inc. for an increase of $4 million in project costs and extension of a sales tax exemption through December 31, 2023.
- Tower 195 LLC for extension of a sales tax exemption through December 31, 2023.
- Genesis Vision Inc. for an extension of a sales tax exemption through December 31, 2023.
- Innovation Partners LLC for an extension of a sales tax exemption through December 31, 2023.
- American Management for an extension of a sales tax exemption through December 31, 2023.
Representatives from USRE Manitou LLC and Amazon.com Services, attending virtually, reviewed a report which had been submitted to the Board. The sound quality of segments of the discussion is poor. The processes for locating and verifying local labor at the Manitou site were reviewed and included identification badges that could be scanned to verify presence on the site. This data was used to determine local and non-local labor percentages and was combined with contractor affidavits to determine how much was spent on labor monthly. At the end of the shell construction in September, local labor payment was at 63.4% of the project cost at that time. After several months, the goal of 73% local labor was achieved.
Amazon representatives discussed the Manitou project as well. The fulfillment center opening has been delayed due to supply chain issues and it is now expected to open in the third quarter of this year. Employment opportunities will be available 2-3 months prior to opening. A second project involves office space and is referred to as ROC5. Planning is on-going and Amazon hopes to have an update in a month or so.
Jay Popli gave the Governance Committee report. The Committee is recommending renewal of annual contracts pertaining to auditing, accounting services, local labor monitoring and exemptions, and legal services. The Board voted to renew these contracts for 2023. The Committee continued discussion of labor apprenticeships and warranty issues impacting local labor among other topics. A recommendation will be made prior to the next meeting.
Video conferencing was authorized for the Board and staff. Procedures for conferencing use will be written.
The Workforce Development Fund was established in 2022 as part of the COMIDA modernization program and $2.5 million was dedicated to the fund. Going forward, 10% of yearly project fee income well be added. In 2022, this amount totalled $885,439. The Executive Director asked for an additional one-time contribution of 20% of project fees from 2022 since fewer projects are expected in 2023 due to economic issues. This will bolster the fund for the future. The Board granted this request.
Representatives from the Ibero-American Action League requested contributions from the Workforce Development Fund for their Workforce and Entreprenurial Connections programs. The sum of $250,000 was requested for 2023 as well as $250,000 for each of three subsequent years. A written proposal with supporting data had been distibuted to Board members prior to the meeting. Demand for bi-lingual workers is coming from various sectors and employers. The request was granted.
COMIDA subsidizes the Economic Workforce Development Center at Monroe Community College. The Director of Operations for the center presented an overview of the 4th quarter of 2022, including the initiation of new courses and programs. The health care program enrolled 248 students, with most in the certified nurse assistant (CAN) program. These students have a 95% success rate in passing the state CAN exam. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) program started in the fall, with many graduates of the CAN program enrolling. In addition, there is high demand for those in the technician of the future and robotics programs.
Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification was introduced by the County in 2022. Over 200 small businesses have participated and now have opportuntities to contract with the county and ultimately with the state for more lucrative contracts. A recognition event is being planned at a breakfast next month at which a new microloan fund will be introduced. The County has asked COMIDA for an amount not to exceed $15K to underwrite the event.
Travel-related expenses for staff training and development programs were discussed.
A summary of the incentives granted in 2022 was reviewed. Sales tax and mortgage recording tax exemptions totaled 30 and 17, respectively. There were 17 PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs and company investments were said to total $734.1 billion (this is possibly an error and the amount may actually be millions). The year saw 29 total projects. Generally, project numbers were down as compared to 2021 but investments were up due to Li-Cycle Corporation project.
The meeting was adjourned following the close of discussions.