There has been some criticism of the plan. Oneonta Common Council Member Michael Lynch of the Fourth Ward was contacted for comment after the meeting.
“I think it’s laughable anyone would think this is going to work,” Lynch said. “These types of schemes have been tried over and over again. They are heavy on tax giveaways and light on job creation.”
In response to several questions at the meeting, Driscoll said it will not compete with local businesses already in place.
Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who was in the audience, said he voted for the program because it is “a bold innovation” targeted at upstate. Empire State Development will not approve applications to participate from a competing business because the target is new businesses that probably wouldn’t exist without the program, he said. For those already in existence, “we should be looking to help existing business on broad-based approaches on tax relief,” he said.
College President Nancy Kleniewski said “we’re very excited about this opportunity.” As a public institution, part of the State University College at Oneonta’s mission is to help the community, she said. “This is a great tool” to keep graduates here and have them contribute to the upstate economy. She will be working with local officials to generate ideas. While a lot of the responsibility will fall on her shoulders, she will be working with a team. Some of the possibilities for start-ups she mentioned at the meeting include businesses that focus on video production, audio recording environmental management and fashion design and health care. They are all designed to take advantage of programs at the college.
One of those thinking along those lines was Sven Anderson, a SUNY Oneonta associate professor of computer art. Speaking after the meeting, he said he will be applying to start a digital production facility.
“We have phenomenal graduates,” but most leave the state to pursue their careers, he said. This type of financial assistance could help make such a project a success, he said.
“It would be tremendous gain” for all those involved, he said.