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Farmingdale State College wins OK for tax-free zone for tech startups

The vacant Broad Hollow Bioscience Park business incubator

The vacant Broad Hollow Bioscience Park business incubator at Farmingdale State College is to be used by START-UP NY for tech firms. This is the building on Oct. 21, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

A state tax-free zone could revive a business incubator at Farmingdale State College that has been in limbo for more than a year.

The college recently won approval for a START-UP NY zone at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park, located along Route 110. The zone is one of three on Long Island so far.

START-UP NY aims to attract small technology companies to New York State. They will pay no state and local taxes for up to 10 years in return for investment and hiring. Their employees will pay no state income taxes for up to 10 years.

"START-UP NY provides a great incentive for companies that can contribute to economic development to come to the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park," said W. Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State. He said the college's faculty and students have the "intellectual capital" necessary to help incubator tenants grow.

START-UP NY seeks to help the same types of businesses that the biotechnology incubator was built for in the late 1990s.

However, one tenant, OSI Pharmaceuticals, soon came to occupy most of the space as officials sought to keep the fast-growing drugmaker from leaving the state. OSI eventually moved its headquarters from Melville to Westchester County and was purchased by a Japanese drugmaker, which closed the Farmingdale laboratories in spring 2013.

Greg Blyskal, the incubator's executive director, said last week the two buildings, totaling 106,500 square feet, are now available for START-UP NY use.

"We have spoken with more than a half-dozen companies," he said. "We still have to go through the process of determining which companies are the best fit."

Biotechnology businesses are preferred. The college will recommend tenants to Albany for final approval; Blyskal hopes to have the first tenant move in early next year.

College officials also were intrigued last week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's announcement that a tax-free zone would be established at nearby Republic Airport. Zones must be linked to a university.

"There is perhaps potential for a technology-based company to interact with our aviation program . . . which is located right at the airport," said college spokesman Patrick Calabria.

Molloy College in Rockville Centre operates a satellite campus adjacent to the airport. A Molloy spokesman said last week he had nothing to confirm but that the college is interested in exploring the opportunity.

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