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OpinionEditorial

Shut down Start-Up NY and revamp economic development efforts

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo discusses Start-Up NY

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo discusses Start-Up NY at SUNY College at Old Westbury in Old Westbury. (June 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A year ago, state officials begged for more time.

They said they could transform the beleaguered Start-Up NY program by adding more companies and jobs. Now, four years since the state began Start-Up NY, which gives businesses a 10-year tax break if they locate at a college campus and create jobs, the local data don’t show much success.

A recent Newsday report showed that on Long Island, more than half of the companies in Start-Up NY have dropped out. Fifteen of the paltry 28 Long Island businesses that joined either left the program on their own or were removed by the state for failing to comply with guidelines. Some failed, others left New York. Still others remained, but left the program because of its administrative requirements. Or the program just didn’t provide the right help at the right time.

Start-Up, on which the state spent $53 million to advertise initially, isn’t working here. A year ago, it was time to stop the program. It still is.

But ending Start-Up shouldn’t stop state economic development efforts. Officials have to find a better formula to create jobs, help entrepreneurs and foster economic growth — and the answers for Long Island and upstate may differ. We have little data to explain why some incentive and development programs work and others fail. And there is no visionary thinking; instead the same tired tax breaks keep getting recycled.

A good start would be exit interviews with every entrepreneur who left Start-Up, chose alternative programs or left Long Island. What do those who work in incubators, handle venture capital or have expertise think? Several have said more mentoring and better funding mechanisms are required. Develop a strategy that makes sense and follow through.

The state can do better. — The editorial board

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