Suffolk County to developers: Hire local, or forget tax breaks

County agency votes to strengthen “Long Island First” policy incentivizing builders to use local firms

Suffolk IDA's Natalie Wright (Facebook, iStock)
Suffolk IDA's Natalie Wright (Facebook, iStock)

Suffolk County can’t force developers to hire local contractors for their projects, but they can incentivize them to do so.

Under a revised “Long Island First” policy adopted by the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency this month, developers that receive county incentives for their projects must “consider purchasing goods and services from Long Island-based providers,” such as local contractors, construction workers or construction materials.

If an IDA beneficiary or any of its subcontractors cannot comply, they must provide the agency with documentation showing their “best efforts to meet the policy’s goals,” the agency said.

If that’s not possible, they will run the risk of forfeiting their tax breaks.

The new policy defines local providers as those with a facility in Nassau or Suffolk Counties with a history of working there, and whose workforce is primarily made up of Long Islanders.

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“The IDA’s mission is economic development and job creation,” said agency chair Natalie Wright in a statement. “This policy will go a long way in ensuring investments being made by IDA applicants provide the opportunity for local businesses and local workers to benefit, creating a waterfall effect of economic gains within our region.”

Calls to strengthen the county’s “Long Island First” policy, which was created in 2012, came after some IDA beneficiaries took heat for hiring out-of-state contractors for their projects.

The IDA in June postponed the approval of $8.5 million worth of incentives for Hartz Mountain Industries’ warehouse project in Melville after the firm reportedly hired contractors from Alabama, Pennsylvania and South Carolina on another development in the area that was approved for $16.8 million in tax breaks over 20 years.

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