Thursday, January 29, 2009


Ulster County is OPEN for business once again! As if we were living in a cave, new business starts on a grand scale stopped like a derailed train a few years ago when the Ulster County IDA implemented the "Prevailing Wage" requirement for any business looking for IDA assistance.

The rule is suspended for one year to see what affect, if any, the proverbial "welcome mat" will have as our County's financial crisis worsens. Cross your fingers.

Michael Berardi, chairman of the IDA’s board, said in the Freeman: The six-member body voted unanimously last week to suspend the wage rule for one year and that
members agreed to the suspension for different reasons.

Whatever the other members thought to bring this vote outcome, I don't care. I'm just thrilled to see a change in the approach to how we offer help to struggling business in this county. Large or small, new business needs coddling in these tough times.

The Freeman reports: The prevailing-wage policy was put in place a few years ago and was amended in 2007 to grant exemptions to businesses that employed at last 100 permanent workers, paid at least 75 percent of them $12.50 per hour or more and were at risk of leaving Ulster County.

Although it didnt have any affect on Empire Merchants North, they left for the Greene County anyway because of demographics and a lack of shovel ready sites in the UC region. Their building on Flatbush Ave will be a prime location for a business looking to utilize this window of cognitive thought in the IDA.

My thanks to Board Member, Jen Fuentes for giving this change of rules a chance to end the retrospective arguments that followed the "Prevailing Wage" stipulations. Jen, we need a shot in the arm, and this might be just that.

Economic advocate and friend Shelly Zimbler had railed against the Wage issue when it was first introduced and warned that the applications would stop coming in the day we implimented such a rule. The applications stopped the day it went into affect. From 3 or 4 a month to zilch.

He, like so many others suspect there was prodding from Hein and company, I have no confirmation either way, but it's a good idea. Now how are we to alert the business community that Ulster County has changed the ground rules to induce serious investment? Are we putting up fliers on light poles or are we actually stepping out of the 20th century?


Anonymous said...

I have disagreed with my dear friend Shelly Zimbler, since he first proposed this. But we must learn that if we are to be successful, we must try new ideas when what we are doing isn't working. I'm honest enough to admit "my" way didn't work. So yes, let's give Shelly's way a chance- without subterfuge or sabotage. And I hope we'll all do what we can to support it and remain focused on the goal of economic development.

In economic development, the only "impossible" thing is to stand still. You're either moving forward or falling behind. This area has been very good at one of those attributes; it's high time we started being successful at the OTHER one.

Bob Kershaw

Anonymous said...

I bet all the out of state workers who undercut the locals and worked on the last IDA project are jumping for joy....did you ever try to determine what the construction industry is worth to Ulster County before you agree to kill it? You would be amazed.

Do you realize that the IDA is supposed to create jobs and not just handout money for no return of good jobs? "to promote the economic wellbeing of the residents" that is what they are charged with, that is their purpose. Not to have free give aways to businesses who stand in line for handouts just for the sport of it.

By the way, IDA board members whispering to developers to cry over the policy wasn't fair either. Neither was grandfathering people who came after the policy was in effect and then claiming no one came since they adopted the policy. tssk, tssk

But we will see - there is no one to blame but their own incompetence now. That is after the couple they had waiting in the wings this whole time to make it look real come through.

By the way Mike, thanks for telling us your opinion on good wages and the move to destroy the standard of living of many people you represent.

Save your pennies.

Anonymous said...

All this will do isbring an influx of day laborers to Ulster County. Look at the Kirkland and the shoddy workmenship there. Inside of 3 years you'll begin to see the mold start. Day laborers spend no money here, they get bused in and there lunch comes in a van. I am very surprised at Jen for voting for this its a slap in labors face.

But, lets see, Kingston has an industrial park with more room for business. Empire North will still be here in 2010 so there will be no new business there.

Kingston wants to spend $50,000.00 on a main street manager. What is Steve Finkle doing for his $100,000.00 a year salary? Can't he do that also? He's no bringing anything to Kingston and there is no prevailing wage here.

I'll be optimistic, but IBM is non union and look what they are doing. Record profits and now huge layoffs. Can you explain that.

Anonymous said...

So, someone thinks there has been a back log of investors waiting for the restrictive "Prevailing Wage" barrier to be lifted so the tidal wave of low wage manufacturing can come in and take advantage of the wave of unemployed uneducated masses in Ulster County?
Now we are typing comments just to be spiteful and fight provoking. If Mike voices support for a temporary suspension of the wage restriction, he isn't advocating for Walmart box stores in Kingston. Get over yourself or get your own Blog.

Anonymous said...


This sounds like a "double-edged sword" - so to speak...

The facts (re. Shelly and the outcome...) seem to support this move...

But... everyone "does" deserve to receive the prevailing wage...

Any "in the middle" / compromise solutions possible here?


Anonymous said...

This is the equivalent of clicking our heels three times and saying there's no place like home...and then beiing surprised we aren't in Kansas.
Perhaps this might have played a small role in developers locating in Ulster County, but I don't think so.
We have to face facts. Ulster County has limited locations for economic development and doesn't have the infrastructure in place to foster it.
Prevailing wages isn't even in the top 10 of lists why we can't attract development

Anonymous said...

Hi all: I would believe that this change will be beneficial for the County & the City of Kingston. Prevailing wages for NYC and other areas worked, and for good reason. Here in the Ulster County area, with the median salary well below our southerly neigbors just could not afford this. The original letter requesting that the IDA was to mandate prevailing wages was signed by both Republican and Democratic leaders of our Legislators. The membership of the IDA agreed in principal but were unwilling to mandate same. We initially revised our mission statement to encourage and then recommend that prevailing wages be utilized. The new mission statement went into effect in February 2006. It was almost as if the spiggot of new loans was turned off. There are other factors that must be placed into the equation, but it was a statement to all, that prevailing wages would be enforced. Sadly, my prophecey as eloquently stated by my good friend Bob Kershaw appeared to be self fullfilling. During this time, the IDA received just one application, and it was withdrawn when the applicant realized the new mission statement.
Although I can not name the source at this time, I can state, that he as an anonymous official of Ulster County, that there is alreay a new applicant ready to file and begin work on a new project in the County.

Mayor Sottile this morning announced his new project regarding growth in Kingston. A concept that is being used in Albany NY, Washington DC and used in Suffolk County will also help as the city moves forward.

It is my hope that other companies commence application to the IDA and we again commence a period of sustained growth and jobs. Economic Development is vital to our area. Tourism is a major industry and with the development of our County Tourist Director will grow as they begin to learn and utilize the area of military tours. As for business and economic development, we are now on target to commence a new journey and path to proserity.

Now if we can only move forward to relocate the Kingston Area Public Access Station so that it can again be a vital force to our communtiy.
thanks for the opportunity.
Mike- a wonderful website that is a major source of information to our community.

as a commercial for myself- Please attend my reading of Undaunted Valor- Tuesday- Feb 3, 2009 at 5:00pm
take care,
Shelly Zimbler

Mike Madsen said...

11:49, I'm not expecting a lovefest with every post I publish. Sometimes, there is welcome dialogue amongst the commenters and sometimes they just vent at me, justified or not. Unless there is foul language or it's completely off topic, I post it.

As far as opening up the doors to possible manufacturing investment in Ulster County, I'll offer support for the IDA on this one. Who is in favor of the current status of job growth? I'd like to see their name attached to it. I know, you are still upset that you aren't still in the majority, but those are the breaks.

Anonymous said...

Solar Thin Films and Prism are all recent projects that started while the labor policy was in place. New projects waiting in the wings have been promised for a long time... Let's just see.

Anonymous said...

If a business doesn't suck off the IDA feeding tube they can pay whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Shelly is really full of crap.

"It is my hope that other companies commence application to the IDA and we again commence a period of sustained growth and jobs"

Exactly when was that period and what jobs does he speak of?

He wouldn't know a good job if he stepped on one. He is part of the heres the money with no strings attached failures that have been in charge for years. Now he cheers from the sidelines - but he still is a waste.