Businesses enrolled in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Start-Up NY program of tax-free zones on college campuses created 332 jobs across the state in 2015, including 34 on Long Island, according to a report released Friday.
In 2014, 76 jobs were created in the state, four on the Island. The program is in its third year.
Start-Up NY has sparked controversy because Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, spent millions of dollars on commercials promoting the program while the employment results have been modest so far.
Ron Deutsch, executive director of the union-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, called Start-Up NY’s job creation number “anemic,” adding, “I don’t think we can consider this a success by any measure.”
The program’s leader, Leslie Whatley, said such criticism was misplaced. “You can’t go from zero to 1,000s in two years,” she said. “Expectations need to be based in reality. This program is on track; it’s working.”
As of Dec. 31, 159 companies were enrolled in the program, including 19 on Long Island. That’s an increase over 2014’s 54 participants statewide and 10 on the Island.
Long Island had the second most Start-Up NY tenants for the second year in row, with Buffalo being No. 1. Most of the local participants are housed at Stony Brook University.
Under Start-Up NY, eligible businesses pay no state and local taxes for as many as 10 years. Their employees pay no state income taxes for as long as 10 years.
To participate, companies must be new to the state or significantly expand operations, and do business in specific industry sectors.