New York’s plan to attract new business and jobs to the state by offering them tax-free space at public colleges is underway. Officials Tuesday outlined for the first time specifics about how the program will work.
They tried to lay out the plan as simply as possible:
"There’s no fine print. There’s no trips and traps, caveats; there’s no taxes," said Executive Vice President of Startup-NY Leslie Whatley in a conference call with reporters.
The plan was first announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year as ‘Tax Free Zones.’ The idea is to let companies start on, or locate to, property owned by the state – mostly SUNY campuses, and not have to pay state or local taxes for 10 years. That’s as long as they create jobs.
Some private universities will also be allowed into the program and other state properties, like shuttered prisons, could become zones.
Eligible properties include under-utilized spaces on SUNY campuses, like the Romney parking lot on the campus of SUNY Oswego.
Whatley said they would love to see a gold rush of schools registering more space and companies applying to the program.
"I think there’s a little friendly competition going on between the schools to get into the program quickly."
She did concede that other states could take away New York's competitive advantage by copying the program.
"I think that we have to work really hard in the first six to nine months of this program to go after businesses because it’s going to be such a success that other people are going to try to copycat it," Whatley said.
The application process will start in January. The Startup-NY plan has drawn criticism from conservatives and business leaders. They say the program doesn’t address the problem of too high taxes for existing companies.
State officials argue that the new jobs are worth the sacrifice of taxes.