Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Capitol in Albany on...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Capitol in Albany on March 18, 2015. Credit: AP

A majority of New Yorkers support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Start-Up NY program of tax-free zones for businesses, despite an audit finding television commercials for the zones had achieved "no tangible results," according to a new poll.

Fifty-two percent of state residents told the Siena Research Institute that they support Start-Up NY. Thirty-seven percent oppose the program, and 11 percent had no opinion.

The poll of 695 registered voters was conducted May 18 to 21. That's one week after state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released an audit saying the state had achieved little from $211 million worth of ads promoting Start-Up NY, other business development programs and I Love NY tourism destinations.

The Siena poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Support for Start-Up NY, which allows expanding companies to pay no state and local taxes for 10 years, was strongest among Democrats, Latinos and people ages 18 to 34, with 62 percent of each group backing the program.

Opposition was strongest among Republicans and Conservatives, with 51 percent of each group saying they were against the program.

"There are clear partisan and geographical differences," Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said Tuesday.

Fifty-three percent of people living on Long Island and in the suburbs north of New York City supported Start-Up NY, compared with 45 percent in upstate counties. Fifty-nine percent of city residents endorsed the tax-free zones.

Start-Up NY was originally designed by Cuomo for upstate and then expanded by the State Legislature. It has been enrolling businesses for about a year.

As of April, there were 110 Start-Up NY participants that as a group have pledged to create 3,150 jobs over five years and invest $186 million in equipment.

Long Island is home to 21 of the companies, at Start-Up NY zones at Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College. Together, they have promised to hire 239 people and invest $16 million.

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