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IDA delays vote on tax breaks to get a hiring pledge from home furnishings firm

The headquarters of Kravet Inc. in Bethpage on

The headquarters of Kravet Inc. in Bethpage on Feb. 19, 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency postponed voting Thursday on tax breaks for Kravet Inc.’s proposed headquarters in Woodbury to allow for further talks about job creation.

In its application for tax aid last month, the designer and wholesaler of fabrics, furniture, wallpaper and other home furnishings promised to maintain its local workforce of 171 people — but not to add jobs, which is a top priority of IDAs across New York State.

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel and three other board members said they want a commitment that Kravet will increase its payroll in the next couple of years. They also said they want to help the company keep its headquarters in the county rather than move to Manhattan or out-of-state.

"We want Kravet to stay in Nassau County and its employees to be here," Kessel said. "But I read your application and there is no formal requirement in terms of additional jobs. The creation of jobs is an important part of what the IDA does," he said.

IDA treasurer Amy Flores agreed, saying, "Right now, there’s a lot of suffering with so many people losing their jobs" because of the coronavirus-induced recession.

Kravet president and co-owner Cary Kravet said he expects to add about 30 jobs on Long Island in the next two years or so, if the U.S. and world economies continue to recover. He noted his employees earn, on average, $89,000 per year.

The family-owned company moved to Nassau from Manhattan in 1963. It also has operations in Chicago, South Carolina, Canada, England and France, with more than 600 employees in North America.

"We do have real options in terms of where to locate our corporate offices," Kravet said. "But our extreme preference is to conclude a deal on 250 Crossways Park Dr." in Woodbury. He had hoped to conclude the purchase by Dec. 4.

Officials of Oyster Bay Town and the developers’ group Association for a Better Long Island, or ABLI, endorsed the tax breaks.

"We live in a high-cost, high-tax region," said ABLI executive director Kyle Strober. "Every week we read in the newspaper about companies leaving the Island or issuing layoffs. In today’s world, corporate headquarters can operate anywhere."

Kravet, which is 102 years old, has been looking for a new home since its Bethpage building was purchased by the MTA for $20 million.

The company has requested more than $217,500 in tax breaks over 15 years for its $16 million move to Woodbury. A tax deal could be voted on at the IDA’s Dec. 16 meeting if an agreement is reached on job commitments.

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