Official: LI 'well-positioned' for technology start-ups

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The head of the Empire State Development Council came to Long Island Tuesday declaring the region was "well-positioned for technology-driven economic development," and highlighting state programs to boost the creation of technology start-ups.

"We've got a lot going for us, once we level the tax playing field," Kenneth Adams, chief executive of the Empire State Development Council, said at a meeting of the Long Island Regional Planning Council at Molloy College's satellite site in Farmingdale. "We need to do more to attract and re-attract the investment capital back to the state."

Toward that end, Adams told the local council members of a new $50 million investment fund to provide seed money to small, promising start-up companies. He also outlined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's legislative proposal, called Tax-Free NY, that would allow start-ups to set up shop in available space in the 64-campus State University of New York system, as well as private colleges north of Westchester. Those spaces used by the start-ups would be declared tax-free zones for 10 years. "We can say to a company in another state: 'Come back to Long Island,' " he said.

The tax-free proposal must be approved by the State Legislature, which ends its session in a few weeks.

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In other presentations before the regional council, Nassau County planning officials talked about two separate federally financed studies: one seeking to facilitate the development of projects in local communities near Long Island Rail Road stations; the other studying creation of a "transportation loop" -- perhaps using a "modern streetcar" system and "premium bus service" -- linking Roosevelt Field mall, Museum Row, the Nassau Coliseum area, Hofstra University, Nassau Community College, Hempstead Village transportation center and the Mineola train station.

Sean Sallie, chief planner with Nassau's Public Works Department, told the regional council the county was nearing completion of a report that reviewed 21 municipalities with LIRR stations as part of the federally financed study, "Cultivating Opportunities for Sustainable Development." The county is close to selecting three interested municipalities to pilot a project in which the county would consult with the municipalities, such as connecting them with interested developers or providing financing for feasibility studies. Sallie said in an interview the county has about $350,000 for the project.

"We wanted to find people interested in the county stepping in," Sallie told the council. "That generated for us our finalists. And right now we're talking to the finalists. . . . We're trying to figure out that one important work that needs to be done to push this community forward from an idea about development into a proposition for a specific development, get a developer on board and get a project moving forward."

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