We often hear that New York state has some of the highest taxes on businesses in the country. So an opportunity for select businesses to operate totally tax-free sounds almost too good to be true.
Yet that’s exactly what is possible through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY initiative. The program will waive property, sales and income taxes for 10 years for businesses that set up shop on or near select SUNY campuses to create jobs.
In a media release, the governor’s office stated that the initiative is intended as an antidote to the reputation New York has as the “tax capital” of the nation.
Given that the nanotech programs at the University at Albany are the model for this initiative, there are those who remain skeptical that campuses such as Oneonta, Cobleskill and Delhi will see any benefits from the governor’s program.
Count Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller among them. Miller commented last week that “I doubt that it is going to have a major impact on college communities like Oneonta.
“If you’re an Albany or a Troy, with RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), or Rochester or Cornell, where there’s a lot of basic science being done, this probably will spur some economic activity around their campuses. ... The institutions here are not that kind of institution.”
With respect to the mayor, we think this is a narrow view of a much broader opportunity.
Consider the enthusiastic endorsement of Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Beth Silano, who pointed out in a media release that the county’s business incubator can benefit from the initiative.
“We are well-positioned to take full advantage of this program with the Delaware County eCenter, an existing business incubator, adjacent to SUNY Delhi,” Silano explained. “This program can be used as an incentive to attract small startup businesses to the Delhi community.”
Imagine, too, if SUNY Oneonta were to find a way to pair its music industry program with a partner in the business community. Such a relationship could be of huge benefit to the university.
And sometimes opportunities arise in unexpected ways. While SUNY New Paltz may be better known for its education and journalism programs, the college announced recently that it is launching the state’s first certificate program in 3D printing in the fall.
The program, funded through private investments and a grant from Central Hudson, will establish an advanced manufacturing center on the Ulster County campus.
“The theory is that when you cluster smart people together,” Laurence Gottlieb, president and CEO for the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation, explained, “they form new companies, new ideas come out of that.”
We hope, with respect, that Mayor Miller is proved wrong. We look forward to seeing what our local colleges can do with this opportunity.