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LI companies getting aid keep job promises

Long Island companies getting state economic development money have largely kept their promises to create jobs, officials said Wednesday.

In fact, based on 2010 data compared to 2009, businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties were more likely to have followed through on job-creation pledges than those in New York's other nine regions. Of the 25 local companies that received grants or loans, 18 exceeded employment requirements in 2010, according to an annual audit by the Empire State Development Corp.

Brookhaven National Laboratory was one of the hiring leaders: 116 jobs added last year. Its total on payroll was 2,965 -- 528 more than promised.

Six businesses did not meet employment goals but were within 15 percent, which state officials said was allowable.

Bonsal American Inc., which sells construction materials, had promised to hire 13 people but only had 10 on the payroll in 2010. It was the only local business not in compliance with job commitments it had made. Executives didn't immediately return a voice-mail message. It was unclear last night whether Bonsal was among 12 businesses statewide to be fined a total of $2.3 million for not keeping job promises.

Statewide, Long Island had the best performance, with a noncompliance rate of 4 percent, said Robert Kwon, an assistant vice president at Empire State Development. The North Country, which encompasses the Adirondack Mountains, had the worst rate, 29 percent.

The compliance rate for 393 projects across New York, as a group, rose to 87 percent last year from 78 percent in 2009. Incentive programs involving state tax credits weren't part of the audit.

Kenneth Adams, president of the development corporation, said, "We work to enforce our agreements with employers."

The discussion of job commitments at a meeting of the corporation's board of directors came hours after the Washington-based advocacy group Good Jobs First criticized New York's business aid programs

In a 97-page report card, the group said New York ranked 43rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on whether aid was tied to job creation, above-average salaries and health care benefits.

Philip Mattera, author of the report card, said Nevada scored the best because it requires businesses receiving state help to remain in operation for a specific time period, to pay "above average" wages and to pay a portion of employees' medical insurance. "New York," Mattera said, "did not do very well even though it is one of the biggest spending states."

Austin Shafran, an Empire State spokesman, said New York has "radically improved the business climate" with reductions in state spending, a property tax cap and other changes. "And we've turned the state's old process for economic development upside down to start investing in projects with real job creation potential."

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