Updated: 12/4/19 – 2:35 P.M.
VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – A public hearing on a proposed tax break for the company trying to lead the industrial hemp push in Broome County has been rescheduled for December 16th at noon at the Kirkwood Town Hall, according to Broome County’s The Agency.* The meeting had been scheduled for December 4th, but was postponed due to a winter storm.
Canada-based Canopy Growth has applied for a PILOT program from Broome County’s economic development arm, The Agency. It would save $1.7 million over the next 15 years. It’s considered a standard PILOT, or payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, program.
Industrial hemp can be used for a variety of products, like clothing and make-up. It’s similar to marijuana, but doesn’t contain the chemical THC that produces a high. Recent legislation at the state and federal levels has made it easier for such businesses to operate in New York.
Jordan Sinclair, a spokesman for Canopy Growth, said the break will help the company attract other hemp-related businesses begin operations in Broome County.
Over the summer, the company opened a $150 million industrial park in Kirkwood.
“We think that that’s better in the long-term for the community,” Sinclair explained. “If it creates, not just one large employer, but one large employer that can act almost like an anchor.”
Of course, some residents of the Southern Tier distrust large corporations that promise major economic developments in return for tax incentives. Sinclair said he understands why the news of this application could rub some people the wrong way and the company needs to better communicate with the public.
“I think we honestly can do better and will do better at keeping people up to speed,” Sinclair said. “Because I’d say in the absence of us providing information, people are going to speculate and I would say that’s when the chance of inaccurate information increases.”
This PILOT application process comes after Canopy reported recent financial losses, but Sinclair said the application for the tax break has nothing to do with that.
The hearing comes just two days before The Agency is expected to consider Canopy Growth’s application on December 18th.
*Updated to reflect the hearing’s rescheduled date.