Huntington business accelerator gets tax break

Tyler Roye, founder of GroupGifting.com, has proposed a

Tyler Roye, founder of GroupGifting.com, has proposed a business incubator for Main Street in Huntington to be called LaunchPad Huntington. (Credit: Steve Pfost, 2012)

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The founders of a local startup were approved Thursday to receive $140,000 in tax breaks from Suffolk County to run a business accelerator space to encourage startup growth in Huntington Village.

The accelerator will lease office space and offer mentorship to local early venture companies; as a "co-working" space, it will also seek to foster a social and creative work environment. The facility was spearheaded by GroupGifting.com, a mobile service to buy and send electronic gift cards.

"We're hoping it's going to be the center of gravity for tech activity in Huntington and very important overall for tech activity in Suffolk County," said Tyler Roye, one of the founders of GroupGifting. Roye presented the case for tax relief, given over five years, to the county's industrial development agency Thursday.

Long Island officials have emphasized the need to build innovative companies to create jobs and revitalize the local economy. Last September the organization Accelerate Long Island was launched with the purpose of connecting local entrepreneurs with researchers in hopes of speeding up the process of growing new businesses.

The 8,522-square-foot Huntington space -- on the second floor of 315 Main St. -- will require a month or two of construction to spruce it up, and the tentative opening date is set for Nov. 1, Roye said. The project is estimated to cost about $240,000.

Huntington Village, with its walkable downtown, eateries and lively nightlife, has been touted by many officials and business people as having the potential to attract young talent and build up an entrepreneurial community. Roye said he and his partners had spent six months looking for space in Huntington.

The facility already has its anchor tenants in Robot Fruit, which helps businesses build their own mobile applications, currently in Westbury, and MaxBurst, a website design company in Amityville.

GroupGifting will also move its 11 employees from its current headquarters in Hauppauge. The company, which has raised more than $1 million in seed funding, hopes to grow to 32 employees within two years.

In 1995, Roye helped start Invision.com Inc., a Web application developer in Commack that was one of the few local Internet companies that survived the dot-com bust. Invision was sold to Waltham, Mass.-based mindSHIFT in 2007 for an undisclosed sum.

When the Huntington space opens, it will be the second such facility on Long Island; the other, Launchpad Long Island in Mineola, opened in February.

With James T. Madore

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