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Suffolk offers small businesses tax breaks

Suffolk County is offering sales tax exemptions and

Suffolk County is offering sales tax exemptions and lower property taxes over several years for eligible businesses. It also cuts by 50 percent or more various agency fees. Credit: iStock

Seeking to foster growth among small technology, drug and energy companies, Suffolk County Tuesday unveiled tax breaks for them.

The Boost Program, from the county's industrial development agency, provides a sales tax exemption and lower property taxes over several years for eligible businesses. It also cuts by 50 percent or more various agency fees.

Officials said they are trying to appeal to expanding companies beyond the IDA's usual clientele of manufacturers, service companies and office developers, which often own their facilities or want to construct them. In return, they receive tax breaks lasting 10 to 20 years, far longer than what will be available under Boost.

The initiative is confined to five sectors: information technology, biotechnology, energy, green technology and pharmaceuticals. Applicants can rent, instead of own, offices, and the lease's duration can be as short as five years.

"The Boost Program will provide the launchpad for smaller innovation companies to grow and develop in Suffolk County," said County Executive Steve Bellone.

In Nassau, the county's industrial development agency also has been pursuing small businesses.

The first Boost beneficiary is Work Market Inc., subject to approval Thursday by the Suffolk IDA board of directors.

Work Market offers online human-resource tools for employers. It was started by Jeff Leventhal and others in Manhattan after their high-profile search for 18 computer programmers on Long Island yielded just three qualified candidates, according to Leventhal. The company, which secured $11 million from investors, now employs 33 people.

Leventhal, a venture capitalist who has founded and sold four companies, now wants to open a sales office for Work Market in Huntington Village. Twenty-five people would work there by 2014, earning $90,000 per year, on average.

Under Boost, Work Market would receive $51,250 in tax breaks over five years. Boost is the brainchild of Anthony Manetta, who became IDA executive director on June 12.

He said the program tailors the IDA's portfolio of tax breaks and bond financing "to the changing economic development landscape on Long Island.

"Boost applicants will be reviewed initially by Manetta, Suffolk County economic development commissioner Joanne Minieri, who also serves on the IDA board, and local venture capitalist David Calone of Jove Equity Partners Llc, and the Long Island Emerging Technology Fund. The three-member group will make recommendations to the full IDA board.

Anil Dhundale, director of Stony Brook University's incubator building for technology companies, said he hopes Boost will help incubator graduates to grow locally.