New Era closing WNY plant

New Era, the cap maker that produces Major League Baseball caps in Western New York, announced plans to close its Derby plant near Buffalo.

New Era Cap Co. is planning to close the Western New York plant where caps for Major League Baseball are made.

A statement from the Buffalo-based headwear maker Tuesday said the industry trend has been away from companies owning and operating their own manufacturing facilities.

The Associated Press reports New Era said the Derby plant, near Buffalo, makes about 2 percent of its total product, with the rest coming from a global production network. It says the caps worn by MLB players during games will continue to be made in the United States, with production shifting to its 5th & Ocean facility in Opa Locka, Florida.

The company's headquarters and its 337 employees would remain in Buffalo.

The Derby plant employs 219 people. Union officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, while the New Era plant is not in her district, was scathing in her reaction to the news.

“Today we received the devastating news that Erie County manufacturer New Era Cap will close its Derby plant in March, putting over 200 workers out on the street," she said in a statement. "Contrast this with today’s news from the other side of the state, that Long Island City in Queens will become the site of one of Amazon’s highly publicized 'HQ2' operations."

Young said that touted as a win by the governor and New York City officials, it comes at a high price: $1.525 billion dollars, the largest financial incentive in state history, and all for a global corporate giant valued at nearly $1 trillion.

Amazon will also receive incentives from New York City but no dollar figure has been attached yet, according to the Associated Press.

New York state's incentives are nearly triple those of Virginia's, while Tennessee's are $102 million.

According to Amazon, the cost per job for New York taxpayers is $48,000, compared to $22,000 for Virginia and $13,000 for Tennessee.

In a statement released by Amazon, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the agreement "one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history."

Young said, "Overburdened New York taxpayers, particularly those in upstate who are seeing their communities and families decimated by job losses and lack of opportunity, have every right to be outraged by this massive giveaway.

"In Western New York, the unemployment rate in many counties hovers around 4.2 percent, far higher than the statewide rate of 3.8 percent. Our hardworking dairy farmers are seeing their farms and futures disappear before their eyes."

The senator said a still-declining manufacturing base and cutbacks in other industries are continuing to drive record numbers of upstate residents to other areas of the country.

"Strong, strategic economic development efforts can be nothing short of transformative when properly deployed," Young said. "Upstate New York desperately needs such a transformation to assure its long-term survival.

"That recognition should be the guiding force in our economic development policies," she added. "Instead, we are 'celebrating' an enormous gift to a corporate giant that does not need it, to locate in a region of the state where job opportunities are plentiful. The winner in this deal isn’t New York and it certainly isn’t the taxpayers.”

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