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Tax-free business areas approved for START-UP NY

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Joe Schwartz

Companies that want to advance Cornell’s academic mission while creating jobs in the region can apply to receive tax benefits and other support under a new initiative to revitalize the state’s economy, called START-UP NY (SUNY Tax-Free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate New York).

An economic development program announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, START-UP NY encourages collaborations between universities and businesses by allowing businesses to establish themselves for 10 years in university-designated tax-free zones, as long as the business aligns with an aspect of the university’s academic mission. Cornell is joining 64 SUNY campuses across the state in the effort.

The state recently accepted Cornell’s application for a campus plan outlining its tax-free zones. Cornell can now begin accepting applicants to become business development partners with the university in these zones.

“As Tompkins County’s largest employer, as well as the largest research university in upstate, Cornell is committed to the economic vitality of the state and region,” said Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources and safety services, whose office is overseeing Cornell’s START-UP NY program. “This is a unique opportunity for Cornell to leverage its strengths in innovation and education to help companies start and grow in the region and to create job opportunities.”

Companies eligible to partner with Cornell through START-UP NY could, for example, come from research or student initiatives in the region, or from the university’s many incubator programs, including the recently launched Downtown Ithaca Incubator, according to Caitlin Schickel, regional economic development specialist working on Cornell’s START-UP NY campus plan.

Others might include companies relocating to New York or expansions of existing companies generated by their connections to Cornell research and academics.

Businesses selected for the Cornell START-UP NY program must prove links to Cornell’s academic mission. For example, they could commercialize research that originated in Cornell labs or establish experiential learning connections between employers and students, like internships and co-ops. They could also collaborate with Cornell’s shared research facilities programs including: the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility, the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and the Food Venture Center in Geneva.

Applicants will need to demonstrate academic and research benefits to Cornell and prove economic benefits to the community and state, including how many jobs will result and whether they will serve economically distressed regions.

The Cornell START-UP NY campus plan underwent a rigorous public process that involved collaboration with local governments and development councils and a 30-day public comment period.

Tax-free areas under Cornell’s agreement are located in the town of Dryden, town of Harford, village of Lansing, city of Ithaca and city of Geneva.

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