May 23, 2013

Tax-Free NY unveiled by governor



Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled Tax-Free NY, an initiative to make SUNY campuses and parts of university communities tax-free in order to attract investment.

Tax-Free NY will entice companies to bring their ventures to Upstate New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax-free for 10 years — including no state income tax for employees and no sales, property or business tax — while also partnering with the higher-education institutions in the SUNY system.

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The initiative would designate all SUNY campuses outside of New York City and certain private colleges north of Westchester as tax free, with up to 200,000 square feet surrounding the campus also included in the tax-free community.

In the North Country, SUNY campuses are located in Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, Malone and Ticonderoga.

Employees of businesses that open in Tax-Free NY communities will be exempt from paying state income taxes.

There would also be 3 million square feet of commercial space at private universities in New York that would be tax-free, as would 20 strategic state assets.


Eligible businesses include companies with a relationship to the academic mission of the university and companies that create new jobs.

That includes new businesses, out-of-state businesses that relocate to New York and existing businesses that expand their New York operations while maintaining their existing jobs.

"Tax-Free NY will supercharge our efforts to grow our economy by transforming localities in Upstate New York into virtual tax-free communities for new businesses and new jobs," Cuomo said in a news release.

"Under Tax-Free NY, communities across upstate will become a magnet for new businesses, new startups, new venture capital and new jobs, taking our economic-development and job-creating efforts to a level never seen before."


North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, said it is another positive move by Cuomo.

"Creative discussions are already under way with Clarkson University, and now we can foresee a real exploration of how, for example, we can more fully tap the Business School at SUNY Plattsburgh and the specialized training programs at Clinton Community College and also look at how North Country Community College can be linked with opportunities in Saranac Lake, Malone and Ticonderoga," he said by email.

"We thank the governor for this exciting new toolbox and know that the North Country is very ready to use it well."

SUNY Plattsburgh President Dr. John Ettling said he learned of the initiative earlier Wednesday. He said the chamber is working to set up a meeting between himself, Douglas, Clinton Community College President John Jablonski and The Development Corp. President and CEO Paul Grasso to explore its potential for transformation.

Ettling said the university will have to take a close look at where it might have space available, as it is bordered closely by the city and Saranac River.

"I look forward to learning more about this fascinating opportunity," he said.

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