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Cuomo Creates Tax-Free Biz Zones

Governor promotes Start-Up NY program Friday on Long Island.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at SuNY Old Westbury. Credit Adina Genn
Gov. Andrew Cuomo at SuNY Old Westbury. Credit Adina Genn

Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Long Island Friday to offer details about his Start-Up NY initiative, which aims to jumpstart the economy through tax incentives.

The bill, which was recently signed into law, had a ceremonial signing Friday at SUNY Old Westbury.

Cuomo said New York is taking a “very aggressive posture this year” in economic development. Through Start-Up NY, the state aims to spur entrepreneurialism by creating tax-free communities around SUNY schools to attract new business. CUNY and private colleges can also participate.

“The new jobs nowadays are coming out of institutions of higher education,” Cuomo said. “It’s the 25-year-old that comes up with the new idea for the next chip, or the next application or the next cell phone. It’s the higher education facilities that are developing the patents and the copyrights. That’s where the jobs are coming from.”

Local leaders gave Start-Up NY high marks.

“The governor’s plan recognizes the valuable role that SUNY campuses such as Farmingdale play in economic development and the creation of jobs,” said Farmingdale State College President W. Hubert Keen. "Attracting new companies and creating more private-public partnerships helps create additional employment—and that means more people will stay on Long Island and in-state.”

“We are now creating the jobs,” Cuomo noted. “We have great schools in New York and we have the best talent.”

Cuomo said the idea is to keep successful businesses in New York. The state identified a trend where 75 percent of new jobs leave New York in the first year, with young companies flocking to states with lower tax rates.

Start-Up NY would help anchor those companies in New York. Businesses under the plan – new startups, out-of-state companies looking to locate, or existing New York companies seeking expansion – would be exempt from paying business or corporate taxes, sales taxes and property taxes for 10 years. In turn, these businesses must create and maintain net new jobs. 

Just as significantly, employees are exempt from income taxes. 

Businesses in Nassau or Suffolk looking to take advantage of the program must be either high-tech or start-up companies.

In total, the plan will encompass 120 million square feet – “more space than the commercial space of San Francisco and Philadelphia combined,” Cuomo said.

Sen. Jack Martins, R-Mineola, said that the plan “will provide a major boost in economic development in our communities, and by extension bring increased revenue into our local governments.” 

The state has set specifications to qualify. They include: 

  • Vacant land on the SUNY campus (for every campus outside of New York City)
  • Vacant space in buildings on the SUNY campus (for every campus outside of New York City)
  • Any business incubator with a bona fide affiliation to the campus, university or college.

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