Start-Up NY creates relationship between SUNY and local businesses

Start-up NY already starting up late.

Graphic by Porsche Black/The Record

Start-up NY already starting up late.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to kick-start business and employment in New York State should have big implications for SUNY campuses and their immediate surrounding communities in the future, including SUNY Buffalo State.

The plan, START-UP NY, promises to provide tax-free zones within and around college campuses in New York State for 10 years. Businesses that become involved in the initiative won’t pay any taxes for that 10-year period. Employees who work for the businesses won’t pay income taxes for five years, and won’t pay income taxes for an additional five years for incomes up to $200,000 per year.

The number of employees who can participate in the plan has been capped at 10,000 workers.

The program looks to create a symbiotic relationship between business and SUNY campuses, said Heather Hage, senior director of the Innovation and Partnerships at The Research Foundation for SUNY.

“The idea behind the program,” Hage said, “is really to create incentive for businesses to co-locate to SUNY campuses and, in-so-doing, for SUNY to use its academic power towards the innovation and growth of New York businesses. And in turn, for businesses to provide more experiential learning opportunities to our community.”

According to the final report on the program released by the Cuomo administration, businesses that wish to partake in the program “need to be aligned with or further the academic mission of the campus, college or university sponsoring the tax-free community, as well as have positive community and economic benefits.”

Furthermore, the businesses have to either be a start-up from out-of-state looking to move to New York or an existing company in New York who is expanding.

Creating and maintaining new jobs is also a requirement.

Interim President Howard Cohen touched on the plan in his State of the College address on Sept. 3.

“SUNY, along with other college communities, will serve as the framework for the START-UP NY program that is designed to attract companies to bring their ventures to Upstate New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate tax-free while partnering with world-class SUNY campuses, like Buffalo State,” he said.

Involvement with START-UP NY goes hand-in-hand with Buffalo State’s outreach in the community, and the school needs to move fast on the plan and do it well, Cohen said.

“At this point, we are in the process of actively seeking out the right fit for Buffalo State to launch its first undertaking in Start-Up NY and will move ahead on this once the appropriate project is selected,” he said.

The program should “transform the learning landscape from one that’s more classroom based to one that’s more experiential,” Hage said, through internships and other opportunities presented by the partnership.

Regulations for START-UP NY are currently being worked out, she said.

Michael Canfield can be reached by email at [email protected].