Gov. Cuomo proposes tax-free zonesTweet
As a follow-up to Wednesday’s announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of a program to attract new businesses and jobs to upstate New York, members of his cabinet made the rounds across the state to explain Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY Initiative. Brian Stratton, director of the Canal Corporation, discussed Cuomo’s proposal at a Thursday news conference at Binghamton University’s Innovative Technologies Complex. The proposal will create tax-free communities around all 64 SUNY campuses and some private universities in the state to attract start-ups, venture capital, new business and investments.
“The goal and plan of the governor since his first day in office has been to attract new business and jobs to the state. We are working to execute that and are already making great progress,” said Stratton. “Now we must put all of the pieces together and take economic development to an entirely new level, and the governor’s plan does just that.”
The Tax-free NY Initiative will help to counter the perception and reality that New York is a high-tax, anti-business state, Stratton added, and is built on the strengths of higher education, both public and private. “New York state has a tremendous asset in its higher education system and its private universities,” he said. “There is a synergy between academia and entrepreneurial activities.”
Existing business and entrepreneurial activities are always attracted to lower-taxed communities, Stratton said, and the governor’s initiative to create a tax-free environment around SUNY campuses and private universities will allow new businesses to develop within 200,000 square feet – about a square mile – of SUNY campuses and some private universities. These new businesses, which must be creating net new jobs to qualify, will be exempt from business, corporate, sales and property taxes, as well as franchise fees and incomes taxes, for a 10-year period. Qualified owners and employees of these businesses will also be exempt from income taxes for the same period of time.
To qualify, businesses will also need to be supportive of or doing work related to the universities’ mission, using the strengths of the individual SUNY campuses, Stratton said.
“Binghamton University is an economic engine within the region and we have taken it as a challenge and an opportunity,” said President Harvey Stenger, co-chair of the Regional Economic Development Center. “We are looking forward to additional opportunities to make connections and the REDCs will be an important part of this initiative as it begins.”
The tax-free communities will include all 64 SUNY campuses. For Binghamton University, both the main and downtown campus will be included. Broome Community College will be included as well. In addition, 3 million square feet of private university space and 20 strategically located state-owned properties will become tax-free zones. In all, 120 million square feet, more than the commercial space currently available in the cities of San Francisco and Philadelphia combined, or more than the current total office space available in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse combined, will become tax-free for new businesses creating jobs.
Legislation will be required to fully activate the proposal, Stratton said, and it is currently under consideration by the New York State Legislature.