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Tax-Free NY plan aims to spur business

Posted at: 06/16/2013 9:10 AM
Updated at: 06/16/2013 9:11 AM
By: Erinn Cain/Messenger Post



A proposed initiative that would allow businesses the opportunity to operate tax-free on a State University of New York campus for 10 years is “a bold, historic opportunity,” said Amy Pauley, executive director of the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation.

“Tax-Free NY is about innovation,” she said Friday during a presentation at Finger Lakes Community College on Tax-Free NY, an initiative announced last month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which is pending approval by the state Legislature.

Under the Tax-Free NY proposal, SUNY campuses outside of New York City and designated private colleges would be tax-free — including sales, property, business and corporate taxes. Up to 200,000 square feet surrounding campuses would be included in the tax-free community. The initiative also includes income tax exemptions for employees of businesses that open in tax-free communities.

“Big problems call for big solutions,” said Dierdre Scozzafava, New York deputy secretary of state for local government, during the presentation. “We want to change the perception of New York being a high-tax state.”

Eligible businesses would include those that have a relationship to the academic mission of the university and those that would create new jobs. They could include new businesses, out-of-state businesses that relocate to New York and existing businesses that expand their New York operations.

A goal of Tax-Free NY is to keep businesses from leaving the state, Scozzafava said, adding that 93 percent of New Yorkers live within 15 miles of a SUNY campus.

“Jobs are important for many reasons,” Scozzafava said. “They are important for healthy communities. They are important for fiscally healthy communities. They are important for individuals.”

She said that each college would decide if it wanted to participate.

Businesses would have to approach the college with ideas, Pauley said, and a decision would be made based on “academic fit.” She added that if the college decided to move forward with a plan, it would work closely with the business and the municipalities involved.

Alison Grems, president and CEO of the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce, said she supports the initiative, but needs more details about how it might be implemented locally.