By Dennis Duncan
The Urban Jobs Task Force said the company should hire city workers to help complete its $324 million plan to redevelop the inner harbor into a hotel, with residential, retail and office space.
The group chanted “we want our fair share,” and held signs that said, “Honk for city jobs,” as local citizens drove by and honked during the protest at the project’s site.
According to Aggie Lane, president of the Urban Jobs Task Force, COR owes it city residents to create local jobs, especially in light of its recent “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) deal with the Onondaga Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA), which would allow the company to receive $44 million in tax breaks for the development project.
The tax deal “doesn’t create jobs for city residents,” Lane stated.
In December, Mayor Stephanie Miner filed a lawsuit against COR, alleging the company had deliberately sought a tax relief deal from OCIDA, in order to allow the company to avoid an agreement with the city, which would have bound the company to provide project-related jobs to city residents, and minorities, for the project.
Miner said the company also initially told city officials it didn’t plan to seek a tax deal with OCIDA, before it acquired the harbor land from the city. However, COR has denied the allegations.
Supreme Court Judge James Murphy has since dismissed the city’s lawsuit.
Nonetheless, according to UJTF, the company’s current deal with OCIDA won’t subsidize job development, and it could make matters worse, by squandering the opportunity.
“Black and brown people are being shut out,” Lane stated.
UJTF has currently proposed negotiations begin “to end the lawsuits by adding verifiable, accountable job and M/WBE goals, through a community benefits agreement for city residents on the inner harbor project.”
Prior to the end of the protest, twenty students from Central Tech High School also joined the group, in support of UJTF’s cause.
“We have to be here to get a voice,” said 15-year-old Zachary Holloway. “I wouldn’t rather be any where else right now, than fighting for jobs in our community.”
According to Holloway, he aspires to be an engineer in the near future, and hopes the promise of job creation will help him gain both practical, and professional, experience.
Elmore Davis, a retired veteran, also sided with the students.
“I raised two children successfully in Syracuse, on my own, and times were hard,” she stated. “I couldn’t imagine being able to put my children through college, without my few local, small jobs, and wouldn’t want another mother to share my grief.”
Lane said the group will continue to protest COR’s tax deal with the county, until the developer agrees to create jobs for local residents.
UJTF plans to meet on the corner of Solar and Court Streets every third Thursday of the month, in order to continue to ask for better employment opportunities for minorities, and city residents.
COR officials have declined to comment on the matter.