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NY Senate Leader John Flanagan: End ‘failed’ Start-Up NY program

Sen. John Flanagan speaks at an LIA breakfast

Sen. John Flanagan speaks at an LIA breakfast on Jan. 12, 2018 in Woodbury. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY — New York’s top Republican on Tuesday called for eliminating state-paid advertising for the Start-Up NY program, a business-incentive initiative that he said has “failed.”

State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport) said the state should dissolve Start-Up NY and put the $44.5 million that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposes to spend on advertising the program and other economic development initiatives to better use.

Flanagan noted a recent state report found that the program — which offers companies 10 tax-free years to locate in designated zones affiliated with universities — has produced 722 new jobs between 2014 and 2016, though the state spent $53 million to promote it.

“That alone should make us take a hard look and say Do we really need this program?” he said at a State Capitol news conference.

Flanagan and the Senate GOP majority want the state to stop taking applications for Start-Up NY by year’s end.

A spokesman for Empire State Development, which runs the program, challenged Flanagan Tuesday, saying it had created 1,135 jobs in the 2 1/2-year period, including 42 at 16 companies on Long Island. Employment data for last year isn’t yet available.

The spokesman said ESD “has not run a Start-Up NY ad since early 2015” and the proposed future ad spending isn’t tied specifically to the program but for economic development and tourism generally.

The position of the Senate GOP matters because Cuomo must negotiate the 2018-19 state budget with the majority conferences of both legislative houses. The budget is due by April 1. In other years, Start-Up NY has been criticized by lawmakers but remained in the budget.

The program has struggled on Long Island. A Newsday analysis in July found that 54 percent of local participants had withdrawn or been removed from Start-Up NY, more than double the statewide loss rate.

With James T. Madore

State & Region