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NYS Tax-Free Zones could entice entrepreneurs to upstate
5/23/13

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called his “tax-free zones” proposal “game-changing.”

Alfred University President Charles M. Edmondson agreed the zones have the potential to put upstate New York back in the game.

At announcements across New York State Wednesday, Cuomo outlined a proposal to create 200,000-sqaure-foot “tax-free zones” at every State University of New York campus; an additional three million square feet of space for the zones would be allocated to selected private colleges and universities across the state.

“Job one is about creating jobs. It’s that simple. It’s that clear,” Cuomo told a standing-room only crowd at the Center for the Arts on the University of Buffalo campus.

Cuomo pointed to the “decades of decline” across upstate New York, and blamed the “high-tax, anti-business” climate of the state for creating that problem.

“Big problems need big solutions,” he said, noting that research and intellectual property spun off from the state’s institutions of higher education has been the impetus for much of the development that has occurred.

Cuomo’s “big solution,” which has the support from the legislative leaders in both houses, but which will need approval from the members before it can be implemented, would eliminate:

            • all business and corporate taxes

            • all property taxes

            • all sales taxes relating to the business

            • all franchise fees

• all personal state income taxes for the owners and employees of the businesses

The tax-free zones, if approved, will have a 10-year life.

Details still must be worked out, including how companies become eligible for the exemptions, and how space within the zones will be allocated.  Cuomo made it clear that companies already located in the state could not simply pack up operations and move to the zones; companies must be creating jobs to qualify.

“Upstate New York has been an economic decline for decades,” said Edmondson, who was appointed by Cuomo to serve on the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. “Time and again, we have had intellectual property developed at the University, only to see the companies locate elsewhere because of New York State’s regulatory and tax climates,” said Edmondson.

“Our alumni have developed some highly successful businesses, but few of them remain in New York State,” he said. “This will give us a mechanism to entice our entrepreneurs to remain or to return to New York State.”