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NYIT, Hofstra get Start-Up NY tax-free zones for tech businesses

NYIT's Start-Up NY zone will occupy 3,772 square

NYIT's Start-Up NY zone will occupy 3,772 square feet in the Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center, which is part of the engineering school. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

New York Institute of Technology and Hofstra University won state approval Wednesday for Start-Up NY tax-free zones designed to attract technology businesses to their campuses.

Eligible companies that locate in the zones pay no state and local taxes — and their employees pay no state income taxes — for up to 10 years.

Yesterday’s approvals, which bring the number of Long Island zones to eight, come amid increased criticism of the two-year-old Start-Up NY program. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers have questioned why Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration spent $53 million on advertising for an initiative that has created 408 jobs so far, 38 of them in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Officials at NYIT, in Old Westbury, and Hofstra, in Hempstead, pledged to move quickly to recruit companies that will boost the economy, introduce innovative products and work with students and professors.

“I’d like to recruit an offshoot of a large company, like IBM, to come to our Start-Up NY zone . . . It would give us fast results,” Nada Marie Anid, dean of NYIT’s engineering school, said in an interview.

NYIT’s zone will occupy 3,772 square feet in the Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center, which is part of the engineering school.

Anid said NYIT has identified five likely tenants that together would create 23 to 44 jobs within two years. Tenants’ entry into the Start-Up NY program must be approved by Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency.

NYIT is seeking companies working on cybersecurity, medical devices, energy and green technology.

Hofstra is looking for businesses involved in health care, education, advertising and information technology.

Mark Lesko, executive dean of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship, said it has identified three possible Start-Up NY participants that together would create 25 jobs in two years.

The Hofstra zone is 3,062 square feet in the ideaHUb, located in the Axinn Library. Lesko said the university would likely ask state permission to add 2,000 square feet to the zone once construction of a new business school building is completed.

“For us, this is about exposing our students and faculty to real-life startups,” he said. “We want companies that are interested in potentially mentoring students who are interested in entrepreneurship.”

Approval of the NYIT and Hofstra zones has been delayed for months.

Applications were to be reviewed by the Start-Up NY Approval Board in March but the meeting was canceled because of vague objections raised by Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) about Hofstra’s plan. The board’s chairman, a Cuomo representative, then left state government.

At Wednesday’s meeting in Albany, the Assembly representative Edward M. Cupoli abstained from voting on the Hofstra application without giving an explanation.

Abraham M. Lackman, the State Senate representative, praised Hofstra and NYIT, saying, “they are focused on biotech, which is important for Long Island’s future.”

START-UP NY on LI

Zones before today’s approvals: 6

Companies: 19 at Stony Brook University; 2 at Farmingdale State College; 1 at LIU Post

Jobs created (as of Dec. 31, 2015): 38

2015 investments: $475,000

2015 tax savings: $122,250

SOURCE: Empire State Development

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