By JIMMY LAWTON
Two St. Lawrence County economic development agencies are looking toward small business incubators, upstart companies and entrepreneurs as New York begins offering tax-free incentives to attract businesses to the state.
Although no formal action has been taken, St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency representative Russell Strait, of Waddington, said the board has discussed hiring someone to visit small business incubators, like Clarkson’s Shipley Center and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology to discuss opportunities with entrepreneurs and upstarts.
The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency is also floating the idea.
“The idea would be, in conjunction with IDA, to fund a position in order to attract people to come to us,” he said. “But in order to do that you have got to have somebody who speaks the language.”
Strait acknowledged that identifying potential successful ventures could be tricky as only a small percentage succeed, but added that the right investment could do wonders for the area.
Neither the IDA nor the River Agency has moved past the discussion phase on hiring someone to meet with entrepreneurs.
However, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to establish tax free zones for new businesses and businesses that relocate to New York, the River Agency is hoping to it can leverage its low cost power and monetary resources to make St. Lawrence County and attractive location for businesses big and small.
“We know low cost power isn’t enough to bring businesses in alone, but when you start combining it with other incentives you can have a pretty attractive deal,” Strait said.
IDA CEO Patrick Kelly said economic development agencies are always looking for new opportunities that can stimulate growth.
“Like most economic development organizations, as the IDA and River Valley Agency are undertaking our current development activities, we are also working to find ways to facilitate the development of new sectors, industries and technologies,” he said. “On an ongoing basis we consider different options for how to bring future development opportunities here, and how to best find ways to stimulate local job creation and investment from those opportunities.”
Kelly St. Lawrence County is fortunate because of the resources on hand with the colleges and universities.
“We see them as increasingly important drivers of economic development activity in the coming years,” he said.
In addition to working with the local colleges, Kelly says he tries to keep tabs on other places to see what innovations may lead to opportunities for creating jobs in the industries that are emerging now.
“As an example, I was at RIT last week for a tour of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability as part of the New York State Economic Development Council's Conference on Technology and Economic Development,” he said. “By understanding the trends and innovations that are happening elsewhere, we are working to position St. Lawrence County to maximize the economic development potential from initiatives like Start-Up New York, Innovation Hot Spots and other technology-based programs.”
According to the governor’s plan participating companies in “START-UP NY” would not pay any taxes (no income tax; no business, corporate state or local taxes; no sales tax; no property tax; and no franchise fees) for 10 years.
Employees in participating companies would also pay no income taxes for the first five years. For the second five years, employees would pay no taxes on income up to $200,000 of wages for individuals, $250,000 for a head of household, and $300,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return.