Friday, April 3, 2009

Friendly To Business

Just what is it government has to do to be perceived as "friendly to business"? There
are a couple of stories in my region that have me truly scratching my head.

The one that impacts tens of thousands of people is IBM - Big Blue has quietly been swinging the axe and negotiating to buy another company as it retools itself for a
new marketplace. When put in those clean terms, it makes sense, no? If your company has to change to continue to be competitive, you change it.

But thousands of jobs are being cut and there's a dismal atmosphere of uncertainty as workers wait to hear who's next. IBM's PR policy is not to comment on "rumors".
It's bad form in a recession and I wonder if it will come back to bite them when the economy recovers. The public has a long memory when it wants to.

Then there's the question of taking state money to grow a business. IBM is getting 145 million dollars in NYS taxpayer dollars in return for expanding its business in the state. Should it be giving that money back, as its laid off 900 people in the Dutchess County area alone this year?

Another small, but equally frustrating story comes from little Port Jervis New York. Kolmar Labs Group's CEO, Robert Theroux, was in El Paso Texas this week to accept a one and a half million dollar tax rebate offer from the city to move his
facility there. He told El Paso reporters that New York "isn't friendly to business." What he didn't mention was that he'd already accepted a million dollars in incentives from New York State to keep his plant and corporate headquarters where it is. That agreement included a promise to keep 500 jobs in Port Jervis, where it's been since 1943, and hire a hundred more workers.
The agreement, apparently, is not legally binding.

Gee, Mr. Theroux, what would the state have to do to be seen as "friendly"?

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