Rarely, very rarely does an opportunity for new permanent jobs, new construction jobs and new business for vendors and a new source of property taxes come along in the region. And when such a rare opportunity arises, what happens? A NIMBY lawsuit pops up and Verizon says "No Thanks" and decides to head to Wyoming. To be fair, the owners of the land in Somerset in Niagara County where Verizon wanted to build its $4 billion project also couldn't put a cap on their greed and kept playing games about the sale price.
This is a huge loss. Not only because of the loss of this project's significant economic development impact on WNY but it also tells site selectors that doing a project such as this in WNY is too difficult. The area's track record for economic development projects with someone essentially coming into WNY from the outside was already in poor shape because of disorganization and terrible communications. In the very recent past, WNY has lost projects with Whacker Chemical, Google and a steel company from the south.
Niagara Country has been the fortunate recipient of many of WNY's development projects that have come from outside the area. A number of Canadian companies have set up shop in Wheatfield. The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, the economic development agency that works to bring in these new jobs, has been successful with a strategy of persuading Canadian companies to set up their USA offices in our nearby area.
Of course, Yahoo was the big prize that WNY reeled in and that took the persuasion of Senator Chuck Schumer to seal the deal. A unique power and cooling system, with a big boost from Lake Ontario, is also part of what brought Yahoo to the town of Lockport. That system also was part of the attraction for Verizon in Somerset.
An Amherst resident who owns land across from the 179 acre parcel that Verizon was planning to build on brought a suit against the project on environmental concerns. The 200 permanent jobs that Verizon would have brought to the area would have paid an average of $80,000 annually.