Governor Cuomo Details Tax-Free NY Initiative to Business Groups and Local Chambers of Commerce

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  30. May 2013

Albany, NY - May 29, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today outlined details of the Tax-Free NY initiative to business groups and representatives of chambers of commerce from across the state. The business community will assist SUNY campuses and university communities across the state attract new businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Tax-Free NY initiative.


"With business leaders, local elected officials, and college presidents in all corners of the state eager to take advantage of the economic potential of Tax-Free NY communities, it is important to make sure we are ready to launch the initiative the moment the Legislature passes it," Governor Cuomo said. "The coalition of chambers of commerce and business groups that we have assembled today will help our university communities hit the ground running, attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs to Upstate New York.”


The Governor was joined today in Albany by dozens of representatives from chambers of commerce and statewide business groups to discuss implementation of the Tax-Free NY initiative, should the Legislature pass the enacting legislation. The chambers of commerce and business groups will work closely together with the leadership of SUNY campuses to coordinate business recruitment campaigns and ensure entrepreneurs from across the country have the information they need when looking at Tax-Free NY communities to invest.


Details outlined by the Governor today include:


Private Campuses: A total of 3 million sq. feet of tax-free commercial space at private campuses will be available under the Tax-Free NY initiative. All independent colleges are eligible, but property must be located north of Westchester. Campuses will apply in a competitive process to designate commercial space on their properties as tax-free. The selections will be made by a majority of a 3-member board selected by the Governor, Senate and Assembly. Preference will be given to private campuses with existing business incubators.


Start-ups Launched from Existing Incubators: Startups “hatched” from a NYS incubator will be eligible to move into a tax-free community, even if they are not a new business. Currently, an estimated 75% of high tech start-ups launched in New York State leave in the first year.

Strategically-located State Property: Tax-Free NY will designate 20 strategically located state properties as tax-free communities. The properties will be selected by a majority of the 3-member board.

Protecting Against Fraud: Tax-Free NY will include a series of provisions to protect against fraud. Businesses will have to submit certification to ESD, and falsifying certifications will be a crime. The initiative will include strict provisions to guard against "shirtchanging," or when a company reincorporates under a new name and claims its existing employees are now new jobs.
The initiative will also include measures to prevent self-dealing and conflicts of interest.
In cases of fraud, the state will be empowered to claw-back benefits granted to the business.

SUNY Campuses and Surrounding Area: Tax-Free communities will include SUNY campuses and an additional 200K sq. ft. that could be located within one mile of the campus. ESD would have the authority to grant a waiver to go beyond 1 mile. For projects on public education campuses, plans will be reviewed by SUNY and ESD. Plans that do not meet the Tax-Free NY program requirements will be disapproved by ESD.


Below is a list of leaders from the business community who have expressed support for Tax-Free NY:


Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan, said, “Tax-Free NY is the type of visionary thinking we need from our leaders. Upstate New York has great strengths – like universities and entrepreneurs – that we need to continue to support. This is a creative way to do that, and to position Upstate for jobs and growth in new and promising industries.”

Kenneth Langone, Co-Founder, Home Depot, said, “I've said it repeatedly: States need to begin helping businesses by lifting the tax burden and also creating an environment in which employees want to raise their families. Governor Cuomo has answered that call with his Tax Free Communities initiative.”

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE, said, “As a company with 9,000 employees in New York State, I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking this initiative to help spur the state's economy. This collaboration among the state's university system, business leaders and entrepreneurs is a creative approach to creating jobs across the state.”

John E Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research, IBM, said, “Tax Free NY is a bold and innovative proposal to attract investment and new businesses to New York's university communities. This program will further enhance New York's leadership in promoting nanotechnology at SUNY and other private campuses across New York State.”

Heather Briccetti, President & CEO, The Business Council of New York State Inc., said, “We appreciate this proposal designed to boost the upstate economy, and look forward to seeing the details. It would provide significant tax incentives for emerging tech companies’ businesses, for new investments by existing New York companies, and for other businesses’ collaborating with SUNY and our private universities. It is an innovative approach, and illustrates that we can and should do more to make the state’s overall economy climate more competitive.”

Brian Sampson, Executive Director, Unshackle Upstate, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY plan will attract new businesses and much needed jobs to the Upstate region and also help end the brain drain that’s plagued our communities for years. By creating a tax-free zone for businesses that decide to locate on or near SUNY campuses and community colleges, this innovative public-private partnership will improve New York State’s business tax climate. The partnership between SUNY Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and private companies has spurred job growth in the Capital Region. We’re hopeful that Governor Cuomo’s plan will yield similar results in other Upstate communities. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction for the Upstate economy. However, state leaders must enact additional tax relief and regulatory reforms for all businesses across the state. Attracting new employers and jobs is an important goal but we must also provide relief businesses and jobs that have been here for generations.”


Brian McMahon, Executive Director, New York State Economic Development Council, said, “The announcement today by Governor Cuomo to create “Tax-Free NY” is good news for economic development. This initiative will encourage university and corporate R&D partnerships that will lead to new advanced manufacturing facilities on university campuses. These are the high tech high value jobs every region of the state wants to attract to their communities. By leveraging one of New York’s greatest economic assets—its colleges and universities—Tax-Free NY will accelerate tech-led economic development and give New York a competitive advantage in attracting R&D investment and jobs in advanced manufacturing. The New York State Economic Development Council commends Governor Cuomo and his economic development team for proposing this bold and innovative program.”


David Hochman, Executive Director, Business Incubator Association of New York State, Inc., said, “The tax free zones proposed by Governor Cuomo would address a different-stage enterprise from the very early startups that predominate in most business incubators, and should provide vital continuity for those who are ready to "graduate" from a startup incubator and want to stay nearby but in larger and more permanent space. This movement happens quickly for some companies in some sectors, more slowly for others, and sometimes not at all for those that fail along the way, but as a state we need to provide options for all contingencies. The zones would also provide New York State a very attractive tool for inward attraction of established companies that seek university/industry partnerships or simply want to be in a university environment because of the access it affords to trained students, to faculty consultants, or to specialized equipment. The latter kind of economic development is distinct from startup incubation, but also very important, and closely tied to it. If adopted roughly as proposed, the zones could be a powerful tool to help the state's public and private universities build out a network of highly attractive university-related research parks (sometimes called science parks). At present the only fully elaborated university research park in the state is the RPI Tech Park (one of our members) and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is emerging as a second. Without doubt, there is room for several more such developments on SUNY and independent campuses in other regions, and the proposed zones could accelerate developments that are currently moving slowly. Incubators usually work closely with university-related research or science parks, so the outcome would be positive for many companies at several different stages of development.”

Garry Douglas, President, North Country Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair, North Country Regional Economic Development Council, said, “This is another positive response by Governor Cuomo to the readiness of the North Country and other regions to help develop stronger economic development partnerships with our colleges and universities. That working partnership is already strong in our area which will position us well to take things to this next level of direct business development and attraction. Creative discussions are already underway 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. We thank the Governor for this exciting new toolbox and know that the North Country is very ready to use it well.”


Rob Simpson, President of CenterState CEO and Co-Chair, Central New York Regional Economic Development Council said,“The Governor’s Tax-Free NY initiative will turn New York’s campuses into economic engines and anchors for startup activities – an important economic strategy. The tax free zones offer a significant benefit to startup businesses that are coming out of these schools.”


Tom Tranter, President of Corning Enterprises and Co-Chair, Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, said, “For too long, New York was effectively the tax capital of the nation, but thanks to Governor Cuomo's vision and leadership, that image of New York is changing. The Governor's Tax-Free NY communities will allow businesses to thrive alongside our network of renowned universities in a way that benefits both the public and private sectors and grows our economy. Aligning our entrepreneurs and educators together in tax-free communities is yet another way that the Governor is making New York business friendly.”


Danny Wegman, President of Wegmans Food Markets and Co-Chair, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, said, “It simply makes sense for New York to encourage new businesses, especially with increasing competition from other states. Tax Free NY a great idea to use facilities in New York that may be underutilized and put them to work creating jobs. This is good thinking and I applaud Governor Cuomo for thinking outside the box.”


Howard Zemsky, Managing Partner at Larkin Development Group and Co-Chair, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY proposal is a refreshingly innovative idea which will allow Western New York to move with confidence into the future. This plan will harness the economic opportunities created by SUNY schools in our region, and create good, lasting jobs in the area. I believe that Tax-Free NY will help to create a thriving business climate in Western New York, and I am grateful for the Governor’s sustained interest in the development of the upstate economy.”


Kevin Law, President & CEO, the Long Island Association, and Co-Chair, Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, said, “Tax-free NY is an innovative proposal to attract and grow new businesses and create jobs in partnership with Long Island's great academic institutions, and thus the LIA looks forward to working with Governor Cuomo on the legislation and encourage him to include Long Island's private universities as well.”

Peter Aust, President & CEO, Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce said, “All are well aware of the economic challenges faced by our Upstate New York communities. The continuing decline in traditional manufacturing employment requires our state and local communities to be more thoughtful, to work harder and to be better than our competition to attract and grow jobs. Recent developments in the technology sector have bolstered job growth in many Upstate communities due in part to the cutting-edge research and development occurring within our higher education systems. Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY proposal announced today provides some key innovative strategies to assist in the creation of new jobs throughout New York state. By offering generous tax incentives to businesses who will locate within a SUNY college or university, Governor Cuomo hopes to jump-start new economic development and growth. That is why the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce applauds Governor Cuomo for his acknowledgement of the plight of Upstate New York economies and expresses our initial support to this latest proposal. As in any comprehensive incentive proposal, the ‘devil is in the details’ and therefore look forward to the specific details that are sure to be forthcoming. We are cautiously optimistic that when these details emerge, the proposed tax incentives will truly generate new job creation without negatively impacting the thousands of current businesses who have continued to persevere in this challenging New York business environment. We are hopeful that with the commitment from Governor Cuomo and the legislature, upstate New York will begin to be recognized as the leading region of the nation for innovation, job creation and economic growth.”

Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for NYC, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Tax Free NY proposal will encourage economic activity in distressed areas and help ensure that New York remains at the forefront of the global innovation economy. Students in our public university system will gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurial jobs in the tech and creative sectors, which is the surest way to close the skills gap and connect the classroom more directly to the 21st Century workplace.”

Laurence Gottlieb, President & CEO, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation, said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo's proposal to transform institutions of higher learning into magnets for new businesses and investment by creating tax-free zones that will unleash the full power of entrepreneurism upon New York's economy. HVEDC remains a strong advocate for fusing academia's intellectual capital with free-market business acumen through the use of smart, targeted incentives. I look forward to working closely with Governor Cuomo, his economic development team and the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Council on furthering a strong, pro-business agenda for the benefit of all Hudson Valley residents, if not, all New Yorkers.”


Richard M. Bivone, Nassau Chairman, and Robert Fonti, Suffolk Chairman, Long Island Business Council, said, “We applaud the Governor for continually showing his leadership in the arena of economic development. His Tax-Free NY program will attract new business ventures to the region and help promote business on Long Island. In the long-run, this is a win for the taxpayers of Nassau and Suffolk County.”


Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's 'Tax- Free NY' plan because it allows SUNY campuses and university communities across the State to attract start-ups while helping existing businesses grow. As the economy continues to strengthen, these initiatives will bring unemployment to even lower levels and help foster the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in many of us. A key component of this plan is the use of SUNY campuses. It is important to create relationships between universities and the business community, helping to ensure that future generations of New Yorkers can work and prosper right here in the Empire State. What's good for New York State is good for Brooklyn!”


Andrew Rudnick, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said, “Governor Cuomo’s announcement of ‘Tax-Free NY’ is a promising proposal that can help spur economic development around our SUNY campuses which are one of the most important economic engines for Upstate, and through innovation, can be critical to long term job creation. In the midst of the promise of the Governor's proposal, sustaining and widespread economic development in New York - especially Upstate - will continue to be limited without addressing real business regulatory reforms and mandate relief.”


Alison Grems, President, Canandaigua Chamber, said, “The Canandaigua Chamber applauds Governor Cuomo's innovative proposal to grow business and boost the economy of upstate. We look forward to reviewing the full details of the plan and to explore how our area might leverage this new incentive to promote economic growth in our region.”


Kevin Keeley, President & CEO, Chemung Chamber of Commerce, said, “Nothing haunts the fledgling entrepreneur like the mantle of uncertainty. Uncertainty of markets, production, competition, staffing and, of course, government. Not only does Tax-Free NY provide a decade of certainty about government’s support, but this creative initiative actually lowers the start-up’s cost of doing business. That’s pretty insightful. Partnering entrepreneurs with the state’s colleges also appealed to the Chamber. Nothing fosters strong, long-term town-and-gown relations like sharing a campus and sharing a dream. Obviously, Governor Cuomo understands the pragmatic reality that when government, education and business collaborate, everybody wins.”

Steve Craig, President & CEO, Commerce Chenango, said, “Tax incentives have long been a staple in the economic development toolkit. Tax-Free New York bundles these benefits in a way that could be a game-changer. With a large supply of quality office space literally next door to Morrisville State College's Norwich Campus, this is a great incentive for startups to continue Chenango County's rich tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Mary Beth Silano, Executive Director, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, said, “This announcement is an exciting day for small businesses in Delaware County. We are well positioned to take full advantage of this program with the Delaware County eCenter, an existing business incubator, adjacent to SUNY Delhi. This program can be used as an incentive to attract small-startup businesses to the Delhi community, which will have a trickle down effect for Delaware County as a whole.”


Julie Marchesella, President, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY program will take economic and job creation in the state to new heights. Properly connecting the state’s higher education network with new businesses and entrepreneurs will help ensure that new companies not only set up shop in New York, but that they stay in New York. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership and his commitment to building a new New York that works for businesses.”


Deanna Alterio, President, Niagara USA Chamber, said, “Governor Cuomo has made a tremendous effort since taking office to jump start economies across all regions in NYS. His newest proposal, Tax-Free NY once again demonstrates his commitment to making NY more viable and globally competitive. Not only will it strengthen our higher education institutes as economic drivers but it has the potential to keep and attract younger generations to Upstate NY and hopefully closer to home in WNY.”


Barbara Ann Heegan, President, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, said, “We always appreciate the Governor efforts to create a more tax friendly state. Connecting today’s start-up companies with SUNY’s leading research institutions is a great way to ensure that those companies grow and thrive in New York. That’s exactly what Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY program will do. By creating tax-free communities around SUNY system schools the Governor is attracting new jobs, building partnerships between educational institutions and private businesses and economic activity that will allow us to continue building the economy of tomorrow. ”

Sandy Parker, President & CEO, Rochester Business Alliance, said, “Rochester Business Alliance applauds Governor Cuomo’s leadership in undertaking this bold initiative which will go a long way in creating jobs related to the new economy of higher education and the business it fosters. In the Finger Lakes region, the communities surrounding the College at Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, and Monroe, Finger Lakes, and Genesee Community Colleges as well as all SUNY campuses across the state will benefit from the job creation and economic benefits of this plan. While New York still must not lose sight of the need to provide current employers in the state relief from burdensome regulations, the “Tax-Free NY” program is a great start to bring back jobs lost to friendlier tax and regulatory climates.”


Jean McPheeters, President, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, said “I am delighted and intrigued by this announcement and, of course, I want to know more details. Ithaca is a college town and, if I understand this correctly, the Tax Free NY program will affect parts of the Cornell campus as well as Tompkins Cortland Community College and some surrounding areas. The announcement also notes that there will be 3 million square feet of commercial space available at some of New York’s private universities as well as ’twenty strategic state assets...’ This program could be a substantial boost to the local economy as well as the state economy if we can attract appropriate businesses to our community. Tompkins County has attractive assets already including good schools, natural beauty, and a vibrant business economy. A no-tax policy for new ventures in partnership with educational institutions could make this region unbeatable. I look forward to learning more about this program and seeing how the Chamber can be of assistance.”


Marsha Gordon, President & CEO, Business Council of Westchester, said “Westchester's colleges and universities are a tremendous resource for our economy, and Tax-Free NY will bring new jobs and investment into our communities. The Business Council applauds Governor Cuomo's groundbreaking initiative that will spur economic growth in Westchester and the entire Hudson Valley region.”


The Community Development Corporation of Long Island said, “Governor Cuomo hits a home run with Tax-Free NY! Strategy will grow hi tech jobs and innovation economy on Long Island.”

Colleen DiPirro, President, Amherst Chamber of Commerce said, “The Amherst Chamber of Commerce supports Governor Cuomo’s Tax Free NY initiative which will encourage corporate and entrepreneurial investment in our region. Utilizing the University’s as hubs for economic development and economy boosting growth and prosperity will deepen the foundation for the regions fiscal sustainability. The residents of the Buffalo Niagara region will all benefit as the resources that support the services that provide us with a high quality of life are increased as a result of the Governor’s creative vision.”

Lawrence A. Kushnick, Chairman, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, said, “In what is described as a “game-changing initiative,” Governor Cuomo has created an economic development renaissance that will permit start-ups, venture capital and new businesses to operate on a SUNY campus and university completely tax free. I estimate that any start-up business will save over 30% in overhead costs that are largely made up of tax expenditures. For many, this is a dream come true as it will transform the ability for business to grow and compete in the ever changing national and international business environment.”

Terri Alessi-Miceli, President, Hauppauge Industrial Association (HIA-LI), said, “The HIA-LI commends Governor Cuomo’s decision to create Tax-Free NY which will help LI companies partner with the world-class SUNY system. Job growth is desperately needed and offering new businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax-free will create a competitive edge.”

Michael Watt, Executive Director, LIincs, said, “LIincs, the nascent association representing a cross section of young professionals on Long Island, supports Governor Cuomo’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurism in New York State. The MRI, hand-held bar-code scanners and even water skis were invented on Long Island – and the Governor’s bold, aggressive actions here will go a long way to ensuring that the next wave of indispensable products and services will spring from the minds of New Yorkers.”

LISTnet (Long Island Software & Technology Network) said, “LISTnet applauds Governor Cuomo’s announcement of his development initiative to transform University communities into magnets for new business & investments. These tax free communities will attract even more startups, venture capital & new business into places like Stony Brook University, and greatly enhance the already growing development of new companies in places like CEWIT and the Advanced Energy Center. This will allow the technology coming out of the Universities to form new startups and get the support & mentoring they need to grow and hire more high paying employees. This is exactly what NYS needs to compete, and the Governor is helping to create more business for our Region and NYS. This will help drive the other things that have been started like LISTnet’s Comets program, LaunchPad LI in Mineola & Accelerate LI. NYS is no longer sitting back & waiting for things to happen, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership we are working to attract, build and motive startups and business to see NYS as the place to locate & build their companies.”


Roy A. Hastick, Sr., President and Founder, Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CACCI), said, “The Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its board of directors support Governor Andrew Cuomo's 'Tax- Free NY' plan because it allows SUNY campuses and university communities across the State to attract start-ups while helping existing businesses to grow. This plan has the potential to bring unemployment to an even lower level and helps to continue to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. It is our hope that this new initiative will strengthen minority communities and create relationships between universities and New Yorkers so that more New Yorkers can work and prosper right here in the Empire State. We salute the Governor on this new initiative and lend our support.”

Jamie L. Moore, President & Chairman, ADDAPT, said, “This initiative opens the door for attracting new high technology development companies who will continue our proud tradition of innovation and lead this region into future… this initiative is indicative of growing momentum in New York State to provide the support necessary to not only attract and grow, but more importantly to retain and promote current industry which has served as the backbone of the New York State economy for decades. ADDAPT stands ready to support Tax-Free NY and all programs that promote the industry, innovation and technology in this region.”



For More Information, Please Contact:

Governor's Press Office
NYC Press Office: 212-681-4640
Albany Press Office: 518-474-8418

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