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St. Lawrence County offers 10 tax-free sites for Start-Up NY

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CANTON - The state’s Start-Up NY program hopes to entice businesses to set up shop at 10 sites in St. Lawrence County and dozens more across New York with promises of a tax-free oasis.

The program is a partnership between the state and public and private colleges. These colleges will offer manufacturing, office and construction space to startups, and the state will sweeten the pot with 10 tax-free years for those businesses that can create new jobs.

So far, 10 St. Lawrence County properties are listed on the program’s website. Seven are associated with SUNY Canton, while the rest are tied to SUNY Potsdam.

According to Lenore E. VanderZee, chief of staff at SUNY Canton and the college representative on the Start-Up program, the listed properties aren’t tax-free yet, but they are expected to receive official approval from the state in early 2014.

“My understanding is that there will be fairly quick turnaround because they want to get the program off the ground as soon as possible, but there’s no set date yet,” she said.

The Start-Up NY benefits begin Jan. 1.

The law was created to make the state more friendly and appealing to business, a move that is especially important in the north country, where economic growth is slow and unemployment is high, Ms. VanderZee said.

“In order to turn that around, we need more employers,” she said.

Businesses that partner with colleges and create new jobs will be able to operate tax-free under the Start-Up NY program. Employees will not have to pay income tax, while the company will be exempt from property, sales and business taxes for 10 years.

To be eligible, businesses must either be new, migrate to New York from another state or expand to create jobs. Retail shops, restaurants, law firms, real estate brokers and several other business types are ineligible to apply.

The college partnerships mean area students likely will receive internship and employment opportunities with the companies that come to the area to reap the program’s benefits. The tax breaks also will be made available to companies conceived at business incubators like the one at Clarkson University, an attempt to make sure ideas created in the north country stay in the north country.

According to Ms. VanderZee, the colleges will not partner with businesses that compete with industries that are already here.

“We are not interested in competing with area companies. We are interested in adding to our economy and diversifying our economy,” she said.

More north country properties are expected to be added to the list at www.startup-ny.com in the months to come.

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