ECIDA resets incentives for hotels

September 20, 2012 Updated Sep 20, 2012 at 7:43 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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September 20, 2012 Updated Sep 20, 2012 at 7:43 AM EDT

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has become the first of the county's six economic development agencies to adopt a new set of regulations governing what incentives will be offered and when for hotel-related projects.

The incentive package rules were crafted during the past seven months and came after officials wondered if the former regulations were too generous and ambiguous when it came to hotel developments. The issue came to the forefront this past winter when the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga sought incentives for its $5 million renovation project.

Much of the new policy covers hotels that may be built or renovated either in connection with the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center - or a new convention facility - or, a conference or trade show center. Also eligible are hotels that tie in to a major regional destination or are key components of an adaptive re-use project.

Officials hope the region's other IDAs also agree to same incentive conditions.

Former Rep. John LaFalce, the ECIDA chairman, met earlier this month with representatives of the five other IDAs, including elected officials from the respective suburban towns, and came away with the impression that most, if not all, will agree with the policy changes.

"I do believe that most want to go the way of a unified policy," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

In other action:

• The ECIDA selected Lumsden & McCormick to serve as the audit firm for its financial records as well as those of its affiliates, the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Corp. and the Buffalo and Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp.

Lumsden & McCormick offered the lowest fees of the nine firms that responded to the ECIDA's bid request.

Lumsden & McCormick will charge an annual audit fee of $60,800. The deal will run through 2016.

Of the nine bids, the next lowest to Lumsden & McCormick was $63,447, while the highest was $136,940.

• During a recent sale of 145,000 shares of Synacor stock, the ECIDA netted $1.15 million. The agency received the shares as collateral for venture capital funding its supplied to Synacor during its early, start-up days.

The ECIDA still holds 393,461 shares of Synacor stock that it may sell at a future date.

The proceeds from the sale will help underwrite a series of programs and initiatives the ECIDA will operate.

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