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Suffolk tweaks small-biz program details

Anthony Manetta, the Suffolk County IDA’s new executive

Anthony Manetta, the Suffolk County IDA’s new executive director, said he created the Boost Program to give small technology-oriented businesses access to IDA breaks on property taxes. (June 19, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County is tweaking a small-business initiative that was unveiled last week.

To be eligible for the Boost Program, companies' expansion projects must be valued at $1 million or less. This was not specified in the program's announcement.

The new criterion is from the board of directors of the county's industrial development agency. Directors formally authorized Boost two days after it was announced by Anthony Manetta, IDA executive director.

"There needs to be a threshold for eligibility," said IDA vice chairman David Rosenberg. "Applicants, as well as the board, need to know the rules."

Manetta embraced the additional criterion for Boost, a program he devised. Boost offers a sales-tax exemption and lower property taxes over a couple of years for eligible businesses. It also reduces by 50 percent or more various IDA fees.

The program is confined to five industries: information technology, biotechnology, energy, green technology and pharmaceuticals. They ideally would have leases of five years to rent office, factory, warehouse or research space.

"We're trying to eliminate barriers to entry," he said, explaining the IDA usually aids large manufacturers, service companies and office developers. "We want to utilize the tools we have to create jobs, and to adapt them to the changing economic landscape," which is dominated by small companies.

Boost participants are expected to meet employment and investment goals; failure to do so can result in benefits being taken away, as with all IDA projects.

Steve Rossetti, IDA secretary, floated the idea of requiring landlords to tell the IDA when Boost companies move. Landlords receive a cut in property taxes that then is passed along to Boost tenants in the form of lower rent. "We should be notified within 30 days or the landlord pays a fine of $5,000," he said.

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