Cuomo pitches business tax-free zones near SUNY schools

By THOMAS ADAMS - 5/22/2013 3:53:33 PM

Businesses that move to property adjoining SUNY campuses will be free from taxes for 10 years under a plan unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The economic development initiative creates tax-free communities on as much as 200,000 square feet surrounding SUNY campuses in Upstate New York, with another 3 million square feet of commercial space available at private universities, officials said.

Participating companies will not have to pay sales taxes, property taxes or business/corporate taxes for 10 years, officials said, and employees of businesses in tax-free communities will be exempt from income taxes.

Companies with a relationship to the academic mission of a university, companies creating jobs, and new businesses, out-of-state businesses locating to Upstate New York and existing businesses that expand operations in the state while maintaining existing jobs are eligible for the tax-free zones.

The initiative, Tax-Free New York, will transform SUNY campuses and university communities beyond New York City and Westchester County into tax-free communities for startups, venture capital, new business and investments from around the world, Cuomo said in a statement.

“Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction for the upstate economy,” said Brian Sampson, the Rochester-based executive director of the Unshackle Upstate coalition of businesses, said in a statement.

“However, state leaders must enact additional tax relief and regulatory reforms for all businesses across the state. Attracting new employers and jobs is an important goal, but we must also provide relief for businesses and jobs that have been here for generations.”

SUNY schools in the Rochester region include four-year colleges in Brockport and Geneseo, and Monroe, Finger Lakes and Genesee two-year community colleges.

“While New York still must not lose sight of the need to provide current employers in the state relief from burdensome regulations, the Tax-Free New York program is a great start to bring back jobs lost to friendlier tax and regulatory climates,” Sandra Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance Inc., said in an RBA statement.

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