Businesses in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s tax-free zones program, Start-Up NY, created 757 jobs statewide last year, the most in the program’s history, according to a new report.
The data, released yesterday by Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, is based on an accounting of 141 participants, including 16 on Long Island.
Start-Up NY participants do not pay state and local taxes for up to 10 years if they locate on a college campus. Their new employees pay no state income taxes for as long as 10 years.
The program, begun in May 2014, created 76 jobs across the state in the second half of 2014 and 332 in 2015.
Start-Up NY has sparked controversy because $53 million was spent on advertising to promote the program, which is Cuomo’s idea.
The new data “openly shows the program is an expensive Dumpster fire that continues to burn New Yorkers,” said Douglas Kellogg, a spokesman for Reclaim New York, an activist group with conservative donors.
Empire State Development chief Howard Zemsky said Start-Up NY is yielding results.
In 2016, participating companies invested $31 million in equipment and other purchases for their operations, and together paid employees a total of $65 million in wages. In return, they saved a combined $4 million in taxes.
“Start-Up NY is proving to be one of the most cost-effective, innovative and valuable tools” for economic developers, Zemsky said.
Since the program was launched, he said, ongoing Start-Up NY participants have created 1,135 jobs, paid $96 million in employee salaries and purchased more than $44 million in equipment.
On Long Island, most Start-Up NY businesses are at Stony Brook University. Last year the group of 16 created 23 jobs, paid $3.3 million in wages and invested $707,838 in equipment. They saved $156,608 in taxes.
The biggest local investment in 2016 was made by Certerra Inc., a spinoff from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which spent $490,000 to outfit its space at Farmingdale State College. The biotech company has developed a screening technique that can determine which neurons in the brain are affected by drugs. It will be used in clinical trials.
The company saving the most in taxes, $37,067, was FlightPartner Technologies Inc., which operates an online booking system at Stony Brook for air charter services.
Three companies hired the most: Millennial Materials and Devices Inc., Theragnostic Technologies Inc. and Unique Technical Services — each added four jobs, at Stony Brook.
Statewide, Start-Up NY had enrolled 212 companies as of Dec. 31, but some have yet to move to a tax-free zone on a college campus while others didn’t comply with rules mandating an annual accounting of their employment and investment.