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Hofstra University to move tax-free zone to trailers

Hofstra University students near the library in 2010.

Hofstra University students near the library in 2010. The Hofstra Start-Up NY zone is currently located in the campus library. Credit: Michael E. Ach

Hofstra University’s tax-free zone for startup businesses will be located primarily in trailers on campus, according to a plan approved Thursday by a state panel.

The Start-Up NY Approval Board unanimously granted permission for Hofstra to move most of its 3,062-square-foot zone to three “modular units” adjacent to the university’s Oak Street Center. The move is temporary and aimed at attracting a cybersecurity company to campus, a Hofstra official said.

Businesses that move to Start-Up NY zones pay no state and local taxes for up to 10 years, and their employees pay no state income taxes for as long as 10 years.

The Hofstra zone has been housed in the campus library since Hofstra won a Start-Up NY zone a year ago. The zone now will occupy only 441 square feet in the library.

The Hempstead-based university requested the changes to accommodate its first Start-Up NY tenants, who require different space from that in the library, said Patricia Hartle, an official with Empire State Development, the state agency that oversees the tax-free zones.

She told the approval board in Albany that the modular units or trailers will be home to “two potential businesses”: a cybersecurity firm that hopes to eventually create 17 jobs and a software developer hoping to create 20 jobs.

Hartle didn’t name either company on Thursday, and neither has been approved for entry into Start-Up NY, according to ESD spokesman Jason Conwall.

The Hofstra trailers are similar to ones used by public schools to temporarily house classrooms when student enrollments spike. The trailers will be adjacent to the Oak Street Center, home to the university’s Scott Skodnek Business Development Center, which aids small businesses.

Hofstra economic development vice president Mark Lesko said the trailers are “temporary space so that we can get started in the [Start-Up NY] program, and to get a company on campus. We don’t envision this as a permanent solution,” he said.

Lesko also said no decision has been made on where to permanently locate the tax-free zone, though the university is constructing new homes for its schools of business and engineering.

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