Are HSBC Jobs On The Line?

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 11:04 AM EDT

By WKBW Programming

...
August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 11:04 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says the Common Council needs to vote on a land transfer agreement Wednesday, or 4,000 jobs at HSBC Bank could be lost.

The Mayor made those statements at a news conference Tuesday with other officials involved in city government and waterfront development.

Brown says the vote is critical and urgent, because HSBC officials will not even consider Buffalo for an expansion without an agreement in place. The land transfer agreement would sell 8 acres of city land on Canalside for $10 million dollars.

Some community groups and Buffalo Common Councilmembers have had several concerns about the transfer, looking to work a community "benefits" agreement into the deal.

Councilmember Richard Fontana said he has modified the agreement based on those concerns, except for one - ensuring a living wage - which is not part of the deal.

Mayor Brown, Fontana, and Larry Quinn of the Erie County Harbor Development Corporation say most of the concerns have been addressed, and that council needs to vote on this - or risk losing thousands of jobs.

Larry Quinn said, "...it's not a bribe Mr. LoCurto, (referring to a Buffalo Common Councilmember)...it's an effort for us to create economics of people buying land on the waterfront and return it to the neighborhoods."

Brown says HSBC officials in London are making private decisions immediately.

Council needs 6 of the 9 votes to approve the agreement. Fontana says right now he has only 4 votes confirmed.

Council President David Franczyk said he will vote no on the land transfer deal.

"This is very suspicious and fishy," Franczyk told Eyewitness News.

"No one from HSBC has contacted the Council about this," he added.

All of the Buffalo Common Councilmembers are expected to be able to make the 2:45p.m. meeting on Wednesday, and Eyewitness News will be there to cover it.