Four businesses at Clarkson, software company at SUNY Canton to operate tax-free through 'Start-Up NY'
Sunday, February 1, 2015 - 8:30 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

A software company is locating to SUNY Canton and Clarkson University is on the verge of announcing as many as four businesses that are applying to begin operations there to take advantage of a state program that lets them operate tax-free for 10 years.

SUNY Canton says that the school has approval to begin its first Start-Up NY partnership providing space on campus and tax-free operation for a company developing construction management software.

And four businesses, involved in in high-efficiency motors, robotics, crowd-funding and pet supplies, are poised to start operations at Clarkson’s downtown campus business incubator in Peyton Hall. And Clarkson has poised under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up New York program.

At SUNY Canton, Adirondack Operations LLC has been approved to begin working with the college and to receive tax incentives as it expands its operations under the state development plan. They expect to create five jobs within five years.

Adirondack Operations will be using the SUNY Canton Start-Up NY partnership to create a new division specifically focused on developing software for facility and construction management.

Owners Mary Anne and Craig M. Kaputa of Croghan said they are eager to work with faculty and students from SUNY Canton. They will be offering student internships to assist with marketing. They plan to work with the construction management and computer information systems programs and will provide lectures supporting the college's entrepreneurial instruction.

“We are looking at using innovative technologies to launch the next generation of construction management," Craig Kaputa said. "Students and faculty from the (SUNY Canton) Canino School of Engineering Technology can help us with this project."

"Opening a technology-based business is going to help keep qualified graduates in the area," Mary Anne Kaputa said. "We will be looking for someone immediately to work with us in the Canton office."

Adirondack Operations will be housed alongside the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center in Wicks Hall.

“Our partnership with Adirondack Operations will offer new professional opportunities for our students," said SUNY Canton President Dr. Zvi Szafran. "We'll have an innovative and progressive business that fits squarely within our mission right here on campus."

SUNY Canton is the first college in the North Country to have a Start-Up NY company in operation on its campus, and the first college in the SUNY technology sector to have an approved business in the program.

Clarkson University has said they are preparing announcements about four companies that will be taking advantage of the program on their downtown Potsdam campus. Those announcements are due in the next few weeks, according to Matt Draper, director of Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation.

One of the businesses expected to open at Clarkson is LC Drives, a three-year-old company making high-efficiency motors in Goshen, Conn. They plan to do research and motor assembly in Potsdam, Draper said.

“We have a revolutionary motor technology that makes these motors dramatically smaller,” said LC Drives CEO Russ Marvin, now a doctoral student at CU, in a YouTube video. He said his motors are so compact the company could mount one of their 50-horsepower units in a frame usually used for a conventional five-horsepower motor.

“This allows us to attack the existing motor market, that uses 47 percent of the world’s electricity, with a smaller, lighter, cheaper and more efficient solution. Ultimately, this will help reduce the amount of electricity used in the world,” Marvin said.

The other three companies Clarkson is on the verge of signing, so far not publicly identified, are a robotics firm, a student company involved in pet and veterinary supplies, and an online crowd-funding platform like Kickstarter, except the new site is specifically for raising money for scientific research.

All four plans are awaiting an analysis to make sure they comply with a program provision to prevent competition with any existing local business. After that, they go to the state’s Empire State Development office for approval.

About 15 of Clarkson’s 23 applications were “not necessarily the best fit” for the program or for Clarkson, “but at least we’re having a conversation with them,” Draper said. “It’s not goodbye” since they might fit with the Innovation Hot Spot incentive program or other programs that county or local development authorities could help with, he added.

The program “has driven a lot of conversations, and interest among companies, and it has given us a seat at the table that maybe we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Draper said. “So we work together for the best fit for the company. The end goal is to get companies to the North Country.”

SUNY Potsdam, the first college in the North Country to have its participation in Start-Up New York approved, has been fielding inquiries but none have moved toward completion yet.

“We’ve had dozens of inquiries and conversations with several prospects, and some are in the initial stages” of seeking approval, said SUNY Potsdam Director of Strategic Alliances John Wicke, who was hired to handle the inquiries at the school.

“There have been dozens of meetings. Some applicants are not the best, not qualified, but there is a lot of interest, and we’re working with economic development in the region” to see what kinds of help can be provided to applicants who don’t qualify form the campus program, Wicke said.

He says he is hoping this year that some of those inquiries will come to fruition, “but it has to be a right fit for the college.”

The Start-Up New York plan, announced a little more than a year ago, is designed to encourage new, relocating or expanding businesses to locate in spare space at state university colleges and other colleges and universities, with an incentive of being able to operate without paying state or local taxes for 10 years.

Among the benefits of the business-college partnership are the research that faculty can share and student involvement in a new concern, according to the governor’s plan.