We’ve flagged the insane waste of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion projects for years, especially its centerpiece, the one-time SolarCity plant. Still, The Wall Street Journal’s report on the madness shocked us.
New York taxpayers built a nearly-$1 billion, 1.2 million sq.-ft., quarter-mile long plant; the state’s since sold off $240 million in obsolete equipment from it and is now collecting a $1-a-year lease payment for the site.
The promised production of 9,000-10,000 solar panels a day is currently 21 installations a week.
Because the solar industry failed to boom as Cuomo imagined it would, SolarCity was going belly-up when Elon Musk had Tesla buy it.
And the plant employs nothing like the 3,000-plus workers Cuomo promised eight years ago. Indeed, most of the 1,700 jobs it hosts are Tesla data analysts, on-site only to meet the original deal’s minimum guarantees.
And, for all the vows of new businesses the plant would lure to the area, the only one that’s actually opened is a coffee shop.
In a scathing August 2020 report, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said that the state would only net 54 cents in “economic benefit” for every dollar it spent on the plant.
All of which should cast fresh doubt on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s central “economic development” scheme, the multibillion-dollar Micron Fab 8 chip-manufacturing project in Malta.
As we’ve warned, that plan is already looking like it’ll fall far short of the gov’s election-year promises.
Rational economic development strategy focuses on creating an attractive business climate — low taxes; reasonable and predictable regulations; reliable, low-cost power.
Instead, New York offers the opposite on every front, while pretending a bunch of politicians can successfully guess what the industries of the future will be and then using taxpayer cash to bribe such companies into opening here. No wonder the state can’t stop losing ground.
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