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Start-Up NY boon or bust? Don’t hide data

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on Oct. 22,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on Oct. 22, 2013, in Melville about the Start-Up NY program that gives big tax breaks to businesses that locate on state university property. Credit: Ed Betz

Start-Up New York is supposed to be a job-generating game-changer for New York State.

Instead, it’s been a costly endeavor with lackluster results. And now the program’s specific disclosure requirements have been eliminated from the state budget. It’ll take action from the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to restore them.

Start-Up NY offers a decade of tax breaks to fledgling and expanding businesses near college campuses in exchange for the promise of thousands of jobs. Beyond $6 million in tax breaks, the state has spent $53 million on advertising for Start-Up NY, which began in 2014. So far, job creation has been relatively slow. By the end of 2016, Long Island had 16 Start-Up companies that promised 174 jobs over five years. After two years, those companies added 35 net new jobs. Statewide, there’ve been 722 net new jobs, and a promise of 3,324.

The recently approved 2017-18 state budget removed language that required companies in Start-Up NY to report key job-creation statistics. State officials first said it was a mistake, but then said they’ll produce a broader report including all Empire State Development arm programs.

That’s not enough. We need specific Start-Up NY data. There is pending legislation to restore and expand Start-Up NY disclosure standards. It would require an annual report with detailed data on tax benefits and jobs created. It would account for any jobs lost, too. That’s key.

Cuomo launched the program and is its biggest supporter. Only with full reporting will we know whether Start-Up NY lives up to the promises Cuomo made, and whether it’s worth continuing.

— The editorial board