Suffolk County Community College, after 14 months of delays, has won state approval to become part of the Start-Up NY program, which provides tax breaks for new high-tech companies that locate on designated college campuses.
Suffolk County Community College, the largest two-year school in the state system, becomes the fourth Long Island college to enlist in the program, which has already attracted 75 colleges statewide, 26 of them community colleges.
The plan for the three-campus Suffolk school calls for three potential landing sites for new companies to locate in, including 71.2 acres on the Selden campus, 7.9 acres at the Brentwood campus and 112,000 square feet of a commercial space in a three-story building that is part of the Wyandanch Rising project in Babylon.
Under the program, new technology companies in a college designated site will pay no state or local taxes for up to 10 years in return for investment, hiring and serving as campus mentors. Their workers also will pay no state income taxes for as long as 10 years.
The state approval came Monday, but the college must still allow for a 30-day comment period to take input from local municipalities, including Islip, Babylon and Brookhaven. However, college officials expect support from local officials.
Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter praised state officials for including Suffolk, which already has a number business-oriented training programs on its Brentwood campus as well as a new $20 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building on the drawing board.
“It’s awesome,” she said, “the college is such an important cog in the wheel of economic development, we’re thrilled to have the program in our town . . . and we will do everything we can to assist it.”
The approval comes after the college and the county last year disagreed over what properties should be included in the program as well as other legal issues. At one point, the Bellone administration even threatened to enlist other local colleges rather than its own community college, which has 25,000 students.
“There were some difficulties,” said college spokesman Drew Biondo, “but we have worked through them as is evidenced by our approval.”
Shaun McKay, college president, called the program a “wonderful opportunity” that will also train students to provide the kind of skilled workers that start-up firms need in order to grow.
Biondo said the county’s department of economic development was instrumental in helping fashion the final application and will be key in helping the college market the new program to business.
Joanne Minieri, commissioner of economic development and planning, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. However, County Executive Steve Bellone said in a prepared statement, “This approval will now allow us to actively market and recruit companies to create jobs.”
But officials could not say if any businesses have already expressed interest in joining the year-old program or how they will seek out new companies for the initiative.
With James T. Madore