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Protests continue against COR tax deal in a tale of two development agencies

Protesters came to a new hotel being built at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor to voice their opposition to a multi-million dollar tax deal. They are upset because currently the developers are not required to hire local workers. The city of Syracuse is in the middle of a lawsuit with the COR Development Company, which has already started a $340 million mixed-use project.

Zachary Holloway is a 10th grader at Central Technical High School in Syracuse and he and his friends took time from their February break to join the protest organized by the Urban Jobs Task Force.

“There’s that much money in the city going around, we should have more jobs open for the people,” Holloway said.

David Pittman, a member of the nonprofit, said when private projects get public dollars, money should be invested back into the community.

“That means community benefits agreements that include job training and the opportunity for people that get trained to participate in those projects,” Pittman said. “If we’re going to have this sort of development then at least let’s include provisions that help our residents. I feel like we have a lot of support and people get it. We can’t continue to have this sort of practice where we undercut our own people.”

Aggie Lane, the president of the task force, said until now, the Onondaga County development agency has stayed out of projects in the city leaving them to Syracuse's development agency.

“You don’t like what you might get from the city, just come to the county and that’s not right,” Lane said.

The county development agency awarded COR tens of millions of dollars in benefits including property, sales and mortgage tax breaks. The county requires COR to hire workers within a 10-county radius. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.