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Suffolk County advertising campaign looks to keep businesses from leaving

Suffolk County launched an advertising campaign Wednesday that touts its tax breaks, skilled workers and research institutions as reasons for local businesses to stay.

The ads are in response to "an onslaught" of appeals from other states to local businesses to leave Long Island, said Ron Edelson, co-founder and partner at Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., the Great Neck agency that developed the ads for the county's Industrial Development Agency.

He also said the effort seeks to raise the IDA's profile.

Forty-two percent of New York-area manufacturing and distribution companies independently polled by Grassi & Co. accountants of Jericho said they didn't know that IDAs could help reduce businesses' tax bills by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed were on the Island.

The ad campaign, which includes television and radio commercials, ads in business publications and on websites, and postcards mailed to companies, will run through the middle of next month. IDA officials said the $380,000 cost is being covered by fees from IDA clients, not taxpayer dollars.

The ads, which carry a tagline of Making Good Things Happen for Business, consist mainly of testimonials from executives of four companies that expanded with the help of IDA tax breaks.

Anthony J. Catapano, IDA acting executive director, said, "We are reaching out because most of the [economic] growth of a region . . . is through your existing companies."

The first commercial to air features Michael Lax, chief executive of Autronics Plastics Inc.

Speaking into the camera, Lax recalls how he needed to consolidate operations in Westbury and North Carolina. He said he found "an ideal location" in Central Islip and $1.2 million in IDA tax breaks over 12 years "made the move even more attractive."

Autronics has promised to add 21 jobs to its payroll of 85.

The ad campaign follows a $260,000 IDA blitz last spring and in fall 2013, which featured radio, print and online ads but no TV commercials.

The Nassau IDA has made a similar marketing push in recent years, and the Brookhaven Town IDA rolled out TV commercials with executives' testimonials last month.

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