Western NY spends big bucks for call center jobs

While Western New York usually makes headlines for its ongoing economic malaise, recent headlines have heralded the arrival of a high-profile call center for Yahoo and aggressive courting of another one for Verizon.  According to the Buffalo News, these jobs come with a pretty stiff price tag:

Yahoo opened a data center in Lockport in August that involves some $200 million in tax breaks — including no property tax payments for 10 years — plus $58 million in electricity discounts from the state Power Authority and a $10 million federal stimulus grant.

All that to create 125 jobs, which works out to $2.1 million per job.

A package to attract Verizon to what is now a soybean field in the Town of Somerset in Niagara County is even richer.

Sales and property tax rebates would come to a projected $518 million and discounted power would save Verizon an estimated $96 million over 15 years.

The price tag is $3.1 million for each of the 200 jobs involved.

Is the money worth it?  It depends on who you ask.  Proponents say that attracting such tenants to the area can help change the perception of Western New York from a dying smokestack center to a emerging high tech bastion.  Opponents argue that call center jobs have very low multipliers, meaning the region sees few spillover benefits from the jobs and increased earnings.  You can read the full story here.

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