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Tax break for Verizon approved, decision awaits

John Combe
via Flickr
Verizon already has more than 20 data centers located in New York.

Niagara County officials have passed a historic tax break for Verizon, to try to entice the phone provider into locating a data center in western New York.

But despite an incentive package from the state and county totaling more than $600 million, Verizon officials say they're still considering sites other than a farm in Somerset, N.Y.

Verizon officials are pleased with the tax deal (phasing up full property and sales taxes over 20 years), the allocation of 25 megawatts hydropower that will have the company paying about tenth of market rates for electricity, and the rezoning of a 175-acre plot to meet their needs.

That's according to Lee Gryczynski, a Verizon spokesman. But he says the communications company is still unsure about the project because of Public Service Commission regulations on the books in New York.

“Any company that’s doing its due diligence will look at the regulatory environment or any kind of legislative initiatives that are underway that could have an impact on the company in the long term,” Gryczynski says.

Henry Sloma, the chairman of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, which passed the tax break today, says those concerns are enough to merit considering changing the regulations in question.

“If you just take two steps back and say, ‘Is this a good law?" Sloma says.  "Does this help growth and development? Does this help create jobs?’ If not, can it?”

There is no timetable for Verizon’s decision. The company has said the project would create 200 jobs by the year 2018, and represent $4.5 billion dollars of investment over the next two decades. 

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