Editorial: An idea full of hope - Press-Republican: Opinion

Editorial: An idea full of hope

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Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 3:25 am

Gov. Cuomo’s plan sounds simple enough: Encourage companies to establish job-creating operations on or around State University of New York campuses to boost employment and economic activity throughout the state.

The incentive for these businesses is 10 years of paying no taxes.

Until recently, private businesses were forbidden to operate on SUNY campuses. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher was primarily responsible for doing away with that restriction. She saw the mutual benefits to SUNY, the businesses and overall state prosperity in merging those interests rather than alienating them.

Under the new initiative, businesses that establish operations on or around the SUNY campuses and select private universities will pay no state sales, property or business tax, and their employees will pay no state income tax. That will last 10 years, then regular taxes will resume.

The main ingredient in all of this is jobs. The businesses may not simply move from current sites to the shadow of the institution. New jobs must be created.

In the City of Plattsburgh, geography seems destined to limit the potential for growth. SUNY Plattsburgh sits right in the middle of town, with college buildings interspersed throughout the community with little area available for commercial or industrial development.

This is not the case at Clinton Community College nor at North Country Community College sites in Malone, Saranac Lake and Ticonderoga, however.

Clinton Community seems especially suited for exploitation of this offer. That gorgeous and historic site rests atop a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain and is surrounded by open space that could prove attractive to prospective developers. It is land that should appeal aesthetically and practically to anyone, but with the added appeal of tax relief, it could appear to be a bonanza.

SUNY Plattsburgh President Dr. John Ettling, asked about the potential on and around his campus, reacted with optimism, though he had not yet been fully apprised of the proposal’s details. As expected, the North Country’s main salesman, North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, was buoyant about the proposal.

A number of details were unclear, however.

Eligible businesses are described as: “Companies with a relationship to the academic mission of the university, 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.”

So, would it apply to a business that has no connection whatsoever to education or to SUNY? Could a store selling antiques, for example, and hiring one employee be included?

The intention of the concept is extremely promising and typical of the creative Cuomo. We trust the full opportunities and benefits will reveal themselves as more information emerges.



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