Empire State Development

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Schools eligible to host businesses are named, and Approval Board formed

This past month saw two important milestones for START-UP NY, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s initiative to offer tax-free status to new and expanding businesses that partner with public and private colleges. The first round of schools was accepted into the program and the START-UP Approval Board was announced and met for the first time.

The START-UP NY initiative launched late last year and is designed to give the state’s economy a boost by encouraging entrepreneurial activity and job creation.  The program offers companies the ability to operate tax-free for ten years when they create new jobs in the state. Companies will not pay state, local, sales, property or corporate taxes and employees will not pay personal income taxes.  The program is also meant to foster relationships between businesses and their partners in higher education, with businesses benefiting from proximity and access to faculty experts, research laboratories and other invaluable resources, and students and faculty being able to engage with cutting edge entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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The first eight schools approved to participate in START-UP NY and host businesses were Cornell University, the University of Buffalo, SUNY Albany, SUNY Downstate, Stony Brook State University and community colleges in Monroe, Onondaga and Ulster counties. Many of these schools have also been working closely with potential business partners whose work connects to their academic mission.

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The START-UP NY Approval Board was formed to primarily review and approve plans for tax-free areas submitted by private universities and colleges.  Its newly named members come with considerable experience and expertise in economic development, education and government. Edward M. Cupoli, Professor Emeritus at the University at Albany and Trustee Emeritus at Cornell University, was appointed by the State Assembly.  The State Senate appointed Abraham M. Lackman, Senior Officer for Civic Affairs at the Simons Foundation and Scholar in Residence at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.  Governor Cuomo appointed Andrew Kennedy, his Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, to the Board. 

Businesses seeking information about participating in the START UP NY program, and colleges and universities wishing to submit START-UP NY plans for consideration by the Board, can learn more at startup-ny.com

43North to inspire innovation for economic growth

The recently launched 43North business competition is setting out to turn the best new business ideas from around the globe into reality in Buffalo.

Named after the latitudinal line that runs through the region, 43 North features $5 million in cash prizes, with a top prize of $1 million.  Winners also receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs, like Start-Up NY. Winners agree to operate their business in Buffalo for a minimum of one year.

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Governor Cuomo recently announced the launch of the competition as part of his Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York.    

 “We are calling entrepreneurs to pitch their business plan to us,” Governor Cuomo said. “In response, we will provide mentoring and other services to help turn their idea into what can potentially be a real business. 43North is a win-win for both aspiring entrepreneurs and the region, providing important capital to winners of the competition and creating new economic opportunities for Western New York.”

The objective of this bold and proven approach is to position upstate New York and the Greater Buffalo Niagara region squarely on the map of America’s newest innovation and entrepreneurship hotbeds.  43North is open to applicants in any industry, with the exception of retail and hospitality. Applications, available here, will be accepted until May 31, 2014, followed by three rounds of judging. 

To spread the word about this ambitious competition, 43North has embarked on a national and international roadshow that will include stops in 12 U.S. cities, Southern Ontario, India, China and Israel. Click here to find the stop nearest you.

Video from the announcement of the competition can be seen here.

The 43North competition operates through the support of New York Power Authority and Launch NY.

New initiative to assist small businesses with suppport from real business professionals

This winter saw the official launch of Business Mentor NY, the state’s first, large scale, hands-on mentoring program geared to help all entrepreneurs and small businesses in counties affected by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee overcome challenges to grow their business.

The Business Mentor NY network includes lawyers, accountants, business consultants, and successful entrepreneurs in various fields who are volunteering their time to help businesses with everything from reviewing insurance policies to managing cash flow.

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“Business Mentor NY is quickly proving to be a tool of success for small businesses across New York State,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “Through this innovative, interactive program, we are harnessing the skills-based volunteerism movement and the very best of New York’s skilled business professionals to give a boost to our entrepreneurs who are facing obstacles and challenges to business growth. While Business Mentor NY is already actively matching mentors to businesses today, the program is also looking toward the future as we work to expand the network to businesses across the state.”

This spring, New York State will launch the Business Mentor NY website in partnership with MicroMentor, an initiative of Mercy Corps, allowing small businesses to register for the program online, review mentor profiles and engage with mentors directly.  In the final stage, Business Mentor NY will be available to small businesses throughout New York State.

Small businesses or mentors interested in participating in the program should contact Amy Greenstein at 212-803-3216 or agreenstein@esd.ny.gov

New ‘I Ski NY’ bus to bring visitors to upstate ski areas 

On March 9, Governor Cuomo hosted the 2014 Adirondack Winter Challenge in Lake Placid to highlight winter tourism in upstate New York.  During the event, the governor announced the launch of the I Ski NY Bus, a new, dedicated bus line to 19 upstate ski mountains from New York City and Toronto to begin service for the 2014-2015 winter ski season.

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Governor Cuomo addressed participants after a day of winter sports activities

The ADK Winter Challenge drew over 400 state and local elected officials, staff, tourism industry leaders and winter sports enthusiasts from across New York State. Participants took part in activities that included curling, ice hockey, ice skating, toboggan, alpine skiing (at Whiteface Mountain), bobsledding and cross-country skiing (at Mt. Van Hoevenberg).  The governor participated in snowmobiling on Kushaqua Trail.

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Governor Cuomo snowmobiled on Kushaqua Trail

“New York is home to some of the best winter resorts in the world, and with more operating ski areas than any other state in the nation, the region is the perfect winter getaway,” Governor Cuomo said. “With some of the best ski slopes, snowmobiling tracks, hiking trails and scenic views, we want New Yorkers to know they should stay in New York and all out-of-state visitors to feel welcome to partake in all that upstate has to offer.”

 “Winter tourism is big business in New York State and the I Ski NY Bus will make it even easier to enjoy some of the nation’s best winter recreational activities and attractions,” said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams.

An expanded bus service will help New York’s many ski areas be more competitive by making it easier and more affordable for New Yorkers and visitors to travel. Under this new plan, trips from New York City will be offered to 13 different mountains:

  • In the Hudson Valley / Adirondacks / Catskills regions: Thunder Ridge, Belleayre, Plattekill, Hunter, Windham, West, Gore, Whiteface and Catamount Mountains
  • In the Central New York region: Greek Peak, Toggenburg, Labrador and Song Mountains

Trips from Toronto will be offered to six mountains in Western New York: Bristol, Holiday Valley, Titus, Kissing Bridge, Peek n Peak and Swain Mountains.

New York’s tourism industry is one of the top employers and economic generators in the state. According to recent projections, 8.8 million more visitors traveled to New York State in 2013 than in 2012. In addition, the industry is projected to have generated $7.7 billion in state and local taxes with direct spending expected to have reached $61.3 billion, up 7% from 2012 and double the national average.  The tourism industry is also projected to have added 24,800 jobs in 2013, a 3.1% increase from 2012 and double the national average, making tourism the third fastest growing job sector in New York State.

Trip planning tools are available at the newly redesigned iloveny.com.

Marvel TV production to be largest in NY history, and The Tonight Show comes home

At a recent news conference in ABC’s Times Square Studios, Governor Cuomo was joined by Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Joseph Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, to announce that New York has been chosen as the site for shooting the largest film / television production in New York State history.

The landmark production by Disney, Marvel & Netflix is comprised of an epic four superhero series and mini-series, and will include nearly 60 one-hour television episodes to be shot here in New York and focused on the 4 Defenders characters: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  The deal is expected to produce  hundreds of millions of dollars in direct investment in New York State and lead to more than 400 new full time jobs, with potential for several thousand more jobs as the production progresses.

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Governor Cuomo with Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Joseph Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment

“Since 2008 Disney has directly contributed almost half a billion dollars to New York’s economy through television and film production, along with approximately 9,000 jobs for New Yorkers,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger. “The governor’s policies make this great state a more affordable and attractive location, opening the door for even greater economic investment and job creation for New Yorkers.”

Meanwhile, this winter also marked the beginning of a new era in the New York television scene when, after more than 40 years in Los Angeles, The Tonight Show returned to New York City – the home it left in 1972 after starting here over 60 years ago – to be hosted by a native son raised in upstate Saugerties, New York.

Along with all the buzz and excitement, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is bringing millions of dollars in significant economic impact to the state.  Thousands of jobs will be created in New York, including an estimated 540 full-time positions and more than 1,500 sketch performers and background actors employed each year.  An estimated 1,000 Tonight Show featured talent and visiting band members will be coming to New York for the show, patronizing hotels and restaurants.  And that’s not counting the over 50,000 visitors from around the world who will fill The Tonight Show audience every year.

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More information on happenings from the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television can be found at nylovesfilm.com.

ESD related happenings around New York State that you can be a part of

Events:

  • Golf enthusiasts get ready: the Empire Golf Expo will take place at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, NY from March 28-30. Don’t forget to stop by the 19th Hole, brought to you by TasteNY , where guests can sample beers, wines, spirits and food made in the great state of New York.
  • Members of the tourism and hospitality industry will benefit from the Empire State Tourism Conference, hosted by the New York State Tourism Industry Association and I LOVE NY, from Monday April 28 – Wednesday April 30 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in East Syracuse, NY.  
  • Events across the nation explain to entrepreneurs how to participate in the 43North business competition.  Dates and locations are available at 43north.org/events.

Resources:

  • FuzeHub connects small to mid-sized New York State manufacturers to the resources, programs and expertise they need to take technologies to market, and forms the center of a powerful network of resources that can help businesses find equipment, scale-up production and overcome business and technical challenges.
  • ESD’s NYS Beverage Biz Events & News page is a One Stop Shop website that provides everything a winery, brewery, cidery or distillery needs to get permitted, access incentives or get information on starting and growing your business in New York.
  • CitizenConnects empowers New Yorkers with the information they need to actively participate in state government. In the spirit of the old town green, CitizenConnects provides a way for New Yorkers to participate in state government and share thoughts, opinions and ideas for New York’s future. Get involved in your community by coming out to participate!
  • Are you a part of the NYS Tech industry? The Build Smart NY Energy Efficiency Innovation Collaborative (EE-INC) was created to accelerate the adoption of commercial, but not yet widely deployed, energy efficiency technologies that advance New York’s clean energy economy and reduce energy consumption in buildings statewide.To learn more about the EE-INC program and RFI process,listen to EE-INC’s informational webinar now!

Make sure to check out ESD’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/EmpireStateDevelopment) and LinkedIn Company Page (http://www.linkedin.com/company/empire-state-development), and follow us on Twitter (@EmpireStateDev) for the most up to date events.

Aerospace manufacturer establishes new operations and creates 100 jobs in the Hudson Valley

Pratt & Whitney, a leading designer, manufacturer and servicer of engine and propulsion systems, announced that it will invest approximately $140 million to establish new operations in the Town of Wallkill, Orange County. The company will fit out an existing 71,500-square-foot facility to expand its manufacturing and services operations and create 100 new jobs, as well as retain 95 existing jobs at Advanced Coating Technology (ACT) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney already operating in the area.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we are seeing companies with a global presence – like Pratt & Whitney – choose the Empire State as the place they want to do business,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “ESD is proud to support Pratt & Whitney’s exciting project and we look forward to a continued partnership that will create new jobs for New Yorkers.”

Among many factors, Pratt & Whitney chose the Wallkill location for the project due to the area’s skilled workforce, close proximity to its existing ACT operation, and an attractive incentive package from the State of New York, including a $900,000 capital grant and up to $1.6M in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, both of which are directly tied to job-creation and investment commitments.

Additional benefits Pratt & Whitney may receive include: potential energy efficiency grants from NYSERDA, an electric delivery rate discount of 20 percent for five years from Orange & Rockland Utilities, lower cost electricity under Governor Cuomo’s ReCharge NY power program, and a potential sales tax abatement from the Orange County IDA. Also, in order to enhance the area to make the site more attractive, the Town of Wallkill advanced the repair of drainage and paving systems on the project site.

The transformed facility will perform a new, proprietary engine blade coating process that gives new engines added life, less wear and better efficiencies – a potential game-changer for the industry.

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Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., is a U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer with global service operations that designs, manufactures, services and supports aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units, and small turbojet propulsion products. Its aircraft engines are widely used in both civil aviation (especially commercial airlines) and military aviation. The company, which was founded in 1925, has been a pioneer in the industry and was involved in most major advances in both military and commercial aviation.

“Pratt & Whitney is making significant investments in our global manufacturing network as we enter a period of growth,” said Joe Sylvestro, vice president, Manufacturing Operations at Pratt & Whitney. “This expansion of thermal barrier coatings in New York is an example of our effort to expand our capabilities and capacity while also improving the robustness of our manufacturing network. All of these elements will enable us to deliver on our customer commitments.” 

“For me, the Allegany Entrepreneurial Assistance Program was an essential tool in building my business,” says Lisa Clark-Shay, co-owner of East Wind Landscape Nursery LLC in Belmont, NY.

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Ms. Clark-Shay is just one of the thousands of people who have benefited from the business support offered by New York’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP). The 24 EAP Centers across New York State provide free or low-cost services to new and aspiring entrepreneurs who have questions about how to start, sustain and/or grow a business venture.

Ms. Clark-Shay received valuable support in developing her business plan through EAP’s Business Training Camp.  Since her participation in the program, East Wind Landscape Nursery has been able to hire additional employees and experienced a gross sales increase of approximately $250,000.

EAP services include a 60-hour entrepreneurship training course and intensive technical assistance support to help new entrepreneurs complete business plans and develop a viable business.  Entrepreneurs can also learn skills including market development, financial management, cash-flow management, growth management and how to access credit and capital.

EAP courses and one-on-one counseling help strengthen hundreds of small businesses annually. In 2012-13, EAP Centers provided 17,425 hours of one-on-one counseling and helped their clients create more than 347 business plans. In the same year, start-up businesses that utilized EAP services saw their sales increase from $4 million a year to more than $6 million a year.

The vast majority of EAP participating businesses are micro-enterprises — small businesses with fewer than five employees that operate from a storefront, a small office or even a home.  These micro-businesses generally do not have access to commercial bank loans, yet can often benefit from a loan under $25,000.   

EAP staff have years of business experience and professional training, and use their expertise to help companies access capital, and increase their visibility and sales.  For example, staff at the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation EAP recently helped a family-run business create a marketing plan and secure a $200,000 line of credit from a local bank.

EAP Centers operate in tandem with not-for-profit corporations, community colleges and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to increase the success of businesses owned and operated by minorities, women, dislocated workers and individuals with special needs.  This focus on new businesses owned by minorities and women has expanded economic opportunity throughout the state by revitalizing distressed communities, strengthening small businesses and increasing employment opportunities for local residents. 

For more information about Entrepreneurial Assistance Programs and to find your local EAP Center visit http://www.empire.state.ny.us/BusinessPrograms/EAP.html

NYS tourism promoted at Super Bowl, Winter Carnival and Empire State Games

February was a hot month for encouraging tourism all across New York State, with major events in New York providing cost-efficient opportunities to promote the state’s amazing tourism assets to tens of thousands of visitors.

As part of the 2014 Super Bowl, ESD’s Division of Tourism took to Super Bowl Boulevard at Broadway between 34th & 47th Streets from Jan. 29 – Feb. 1. The NY/NJ Host Committee Area was an exciting celebration featuring the Join the Huddle Tour with interactive football activities for fans of all ages, and the I LOVE NY Video Park, a dynamic multi-sensory video journey through New York State. Staff members from various New York State tourism partners were on hand to interact with visitors and answer questions about travel in New York State.

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Visitors were also encouraged to pick up a special I LOVE NY Ski Ticket, redeemable for discounts at ski areas throughout New York State.  By tagging Instagrams of their ski tickets with #WeSkiNY, lucky winners received prizes including a pair of lift tickets at Whiteface Lake Placid, Gore Mountain Ski Resort or Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. Through EscapeMaker, I LOVE NEW YORK also offered a Super Bowl sweepstakes featuring lift tickets and rentals at Hunter, Windham, Whiteface and Catamount ski areas, along with a grand prize of a 2013-2014 ISKINY Gold Pass, redeemable for one lift ticket per day at all Ski Areas of New York (SANY) member ski resorts.

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, rated the second best winter carnival in the world by National Geographic Traveler, celebrated its 117th Anniversary from Jan. 31 through Feb. 9. The carnival featured an amazing ice palace and winter sports, including snowshoeing, Nordic and alpine ski races, ice skating races, hockey games, “arctic” mini-golf, and even a fun run.  I LOVE NEW YORK provided promotional support through social media throughout the event.  Also, an on-site I LOVE NY Warming Area by the Ice Palace featured Adirondack and ski themed furniture, a Maple House and NYS maple and cider products.  Attendees at the Winter Carnival Parade could also stop by an I LOVE NEW YORK station to pick up mini-flags and cheers sticks to help celebrate as parade marchers and floats passed through.

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Not far away, New York State’s finest amateur athletes gathered in Lake Placid February 6th through 9th for the 2014 Empire State Winter Games which, for 34 years, have brought together over 1,000 athletes from across the state to compete in a variety of winter sports.  Featured sports included cross country and alpine skiing, biathlon, figure skating, women’s ice hockey, ski jumping, bobsled, skeleton and luge. I LOVE NEW YORK provided social media promotion prior to and during the games, and also helped attendees at the Opening Ceremonies cheer on athletes with I LOVE NEW YORK flags and cheer sticks.  Attendees at the first ever Empire Sports Fest were able to try out various winter sports themselves and catch Sochi Olympic Coverage on a Jumbotron that also featured I LOVE NEW YORK and START-UP NY ads.

A closer look at one of New York’s Regional Economic Development Councils

New York’s Southern Tier contains two metropolitan areas — Binghamton and Elmira, a number of small cities, and extensive rural areas that border Pennsylvania. With industry clusters like manufacturing, flight simulation, defense, distribution and insurance, the region is home to internationally known employers such as Corning, Ardagh Metal Packaging USA, DeMets Candy Company, Raymond Corporation, BAE Systems, Frito-Lay and Dresser-Rand.

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As part of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative, which divided the state into ten regions to provide local stakeholders with the tools and resources to grow the economy and create jobs in the region, the state has awarded more than $222 million to the Southern Tier REDC, including nearly $50 million for 58 projects in 2011. Just over two years later, 95 percent of the projects in the Southern Tier supported by Round 1 REDC awards are either completed or on track for a timely completion.

One of those projects is happening at Norwich Pharmaceuticals, which was awarded $2 million from ESD to support a nearly $40 million expansion that includes a new laboratory and equipment. This project will make the company an even stronger competitor in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and has the potential to create and retain 361 good paying jobs. The expansion is well underway and the company is already starting to look for New Yorkers to fill the new positions.

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In the first round, the Southern Tier REDC developed three funds targeted at key regional industries and needs: the Shovel Ready, Community Revitalization and Rural Initiative. These funds have been modeled by other REDCs around the state as a way to provide low-interest loans to small businesses to push projects over the goal line and create new local jobs.

“Many of these businesses are struggling and we’re trying to give them some help,” co-chairman of the STREDC, Harvey Stenger, recently stated in an interview.

In Tompkins County, The Piggery in Ithaca received a $300,000 low-interest loan from the Rural Initiative fund to help with building renovations, and the family-owned butcher shop is almost finished and will add 10 new jobs. While over in  Greene, Chenango County, the Sherwood Inn, received a $325,000 loan for renovations to the historic facility, which is leading to 30 new jobs.

These are just a few highlights of the economic activity happening across the eight-county Southern Tier region, which is keeping the momentum going in 2014 after being awarded $81.3 million in Round 3 of the REDC competition.

Considered as having one of the best plans in the state in 2012, the Southern Tier REDC is building on its success by supporting projects that expand health care programs, grow job training resources and boost tourism in the region.

Highlights of projects awarded economic development funding in Round III include:

  • $3,500,000 to the Community Revitalization Fund to provide gap financing encouraging private investments in downtowns and Main Streets, and development of the region’s neighborhoods and rural population centers.
  • $2,250,000 to Elmira College to create a Health Care Training Center, including renovations to Cowles Hall to house the Nursing, Speech and Hearing programs and to provide space for new healthcare programs. The project will result in job creation and allow for increased nursing enrollment.
  • $1,300,000 to the Town of Margaretville for assistance in the construction of a new hotel at the site of the already existing Margaretville Motel as part of the Margaretville Lodging LLC Business Expansion Plan.
  • $850,000 to Delaware County to reinvest in a long dormant manufacturing facility. The Delaware County IDA will undertake a project to acquire and renovate the former Wissahickon water bottling facility for the purpose of developing a shovel-ready, turn-key light manufacturing facility in order to attract new private sector investment and job creation.

ESD related happenings around New York State that you can be a part of:

Events:

  • Visit the I LOVE NY booth at the New York Times Travel Show from February 28 – March 2, and at the 21st Original GLBT Expo from March 22 – March 23, both at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
  • Check out the Farm to City Expo, an annual half day forum co-sponsored by ESD to support local purchasing in the food service industry, being held on March 4 at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show at the Javits Center in New York City.  This year’s forum is ”Turning Local Purchasing into Profits for Farmers, Restaurateurs and Entrepreneurs.” 
  • Check out the Long Island Winterfest, a six week mid-winter music festival of which I LOVE NY is a presenting sponsor, taking place in Long Island’s unique vineyard tasting rooms, hotels and other venues on the East End, from February 8 – March 16.

Resources:

  • Learn about Business Mentor NY, a free small business mentoring program that is a critical component of New York State’s effort to assist businesses as they recover and rebuild from Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. 
  • Become part of 43North, an exciting business competition that will be the largest in the nation to attract promising start-up ventures and innovators from around the world to Western New York.
  • Check in for updates on START-UP NY, the groundbreaking initiative that creates 100% tax-free zones across New York State for new and expanding businesses. 
  • FuzeHub connects small to mid-sized New York State manufacturers to the resources, programs and expertise they need to take technologies to market, and forms the center of a powerful network of resources that can help businesses find equipment, scale-up production and overcome business and technical challenges.
  • The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program provides rebuilding and revitalization assistance to communities severely damaged by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
  • ESD’s NYS Beverage Biz Events & News page is a One Stop Shop website that provides everything a winery, brewery, cidery or distillery needs to get permitted, access incentives or get information on starting and growing your business in New York.
  • CitizenConnects empowers New Yorkers with the information they need to actively participate in state government. In the spirit of the old town green, CitizenConnects provides a way for New Yorkers to participate in state government and share thoughts, opinions and ideas for New York’s future. Get involved in your community by coming out to participate!
  • The NYS Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development provides the film and TV industry with important tools to increase production and post production across New York State, creating jobs in this vital segment.  You can read all about it on their brand new website or in their monthly newsletter.

Make sure to check out ESD’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/EmpireStateDevelopment) and LinkedIn Company Page (http://www.linkedin.com/company/empire-state-development), and follow us on Twitter (@EmpireStateDev) for the most up to date events.

“Transforming the Economy” is one of the key planks in his 2014 agenda

Earlier this month, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2014 State of the State Address and outlined a sweeping agenda which builds on the economic success of the last three years to change the direction of New York State: reducing spending below inflation and personal income growth for the first time in 40 years, transforming a $10 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus, reducing unemployment in all ten regions of the state, creating nearly 400,000 new private sector jobs (the highest job creation in the state’s history), improving the state’s credit standing with all three rating agencies, and increasing exports by 15%. 

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The governor’s agenda for 2014 continues this progress, including measures to control spending while cutting taxes to create jobs and make the state more affordable for families, expanding successful economic policies and rebuilding infrastructure.  Proposed initiatives to continue New York’s successful job growth strategy include:

Tax relief: Rather than using the $2 billion projected revenue to increase spending, Governor Cuomo proposed to cut taxes for New Yorkers and businesses to provide taxpayers relief and grow the economy. These includes measures to:

    • Freeze property taxes for working families;
    • Create a property tax “circuit breaker” based on ability to pay;
    • Provide tax relief for renters facing significant housing burdens;
    • Pass additional tax relief to boost manufacturing, including a refundable credit that would be equal to 20 percent of a firm’s annual real property taxes, and the elimination of corporate income tax rate for upstate manufacturers;
    • Reform corporate taxes including merging the bank tax into the corporate franchise tax and lowering the rate to 6.5 percent, the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968;
    • Reform the Estate Tax, increasing New York’s exemption threshold to match the federal government, and lowering the top rate to 10 percent over four years; and
    • Accelerate the phase-out of the 18-A Utility Surcharge.

Creation of a joint executive-legislative commission to reduce regulatory barriers on business.

Expedite power transmission projects to update the state’s antiquated infrastructure and facilitate excess power in upstate New York entering the downstate region where demand is greatest, while utilizing existing transmission corridors or burying lines along existing state-owned rights of way such as waterways and highways to preserve the quality of life in local communities.

Launch a fourth round of Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards to create jobs and attract international investment.

Launch “Global NY” to link START-UP NY and the REDC initiatives and attract international investment and jobs to upstate New York, as well as host a Global NY International Business Conference.

Continue to attract visitors upstate and outdoors through measures like:

  • A  NYS Adventure License – a driver’s license that includes optional icons for all of an individual’s lifetime license; designations, such as the Boater Safety Certificate and the newly created lifetime State Parks’ Empire Pass;
  • 50 new access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts to untapped state-owned lands
  • Revitalization of New York’s park system;
  • I Love NY tourism smartphone app, now available to provide comprehensive, geographically targeted recreation, lodging, and dining options in every region of the state; and
  • Bringing world-class destination resorts to upstate NY, including through a Gaming Facility Location Board.

Encourage targeted investment through a second round of key industry summits, including a new Upstate-Downstate Food-to-Table Agriculture Summit.

Create the NY Genomic Medicine Network, a partnership that will link the medical community in New York City with the University at Buffalo’s computational infrastructure and biomedical research expertise to develop upstate New York as a national center for genomic medicine research and jobs.

Modernize our airports, the gateways to New York, by assuming management responsibility for construction at JFK and LaGuardia airports from the Port Authority to ensure these critical transportation hubs are modernized efficiently and quickly.

Expand the successful NY Youth Works Program for inner city young people by increasing the size of the program from $6 to $10 million for each of the next four years, incentivizing employee retention with additional tax benefits, and providing training funds to employers through the existing Job Linkage Program.

Continue to expand opportunities for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE), increasing the number of MWBE certified firms by an additional 2,000. 

Promote and grow businesses owned by disabled veterans by establishing a 5% goal in the awarding of state contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Governor Cuomo’s address received an enthusiastic response from the business community.

Heather Bricetti, President & CEO of the Business Council of New York State said, “There is much for business in New York to be encouraged about in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address. His continued emphasis on holding growth in overall state spending to under 2 percent is for another year is welcomed news. The Business Council applauds the Governor’s tax relief proposals that will provide more than $2 billion in savings to New York employers and residents. This is big news for the state’s economy, especially upstate, as these tax cuts will provide broad-based business tax relief, and support key business sectors across New York.”

Kathryn S. Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said, “The governor’s plan will fundamentally improve the business climate in our state and is perhaps the most important single action the state could take to encourage job creation and economic growth.”

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership: “Governor Cuomo’s focus on reducing our tax burden with START-UP NY and the Tax Commission should be commended. We are especially pleased with the Governor’s plan for a reduction of corporate tax rate for manufacturing to zero and the previously mentioned phase out of the 18A energy assessment, which has been a longstanding priority for Buffalo Niagara’s business community.”

More information on the State of the State, including a transcript of the address, is available at governor.ny.gov/2014/building-on-success.

Advances around workers comp and employment of young workers

Recent steps taken by New York State will ensure that businesses have an affordable and secure way to pay compensation claims to their injured workers, and provide new tax incentives to hire local at-risk youth.

In December, New York State sold $370 million in bonds to support small businesses and employers who faced challenges in paying compensation claims.  Now, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s recently announced 2013 Business Relief Act, close to 10,000 businesses and their workers will benefit from the bond sales. 

The Business Relief Act allows the Workers’ Compensation Board to utilize bond proceeds to buy insurance that will help employers pay workers’ compensation claims.  The funds will allow businesses to repay the Workers’ Compensation Board for the cost of the insurance over a period of ten years under favorable terms.  The insurance does not relieve employers of liability, but it does create a clear and lower-cost mechanism for them to meet their obligations toward their injured and ill employees.

“Through the 2013 Business Relief Act, the state is providing a practical and affordable way for thousands of businesses to meet their responsibilities so that injured workers can receive the compensation they deserve,” Governor Cuomo said. “Employees who are hurt on the job are rightfully entitled to their workers’ compensation benefits, and the bonds issued by the state will provide financial assistance for employers to meet those needs. We are pleased to work side by side with the business and labor communities so that all New Yorkers are covered.”

New York businesses were also buoyed by new legislation that enacts changes to the New York Youth Works tax credit.  Since 2012, the program has provided a tax break for businesses employing local at-risk youth between the ages of 16-24 years old. The latest update went into effect last month and reduces the number of hours youth are required to work per week from 20 to 10, allowing students to devote more time to schoolwork and enabling businesses to continue creating and maintaining jobs through participation in the program.  Both the state’s business community and youth in the labor force supported modifications to the tax program, citing the 20-hour a week threshold as too high for full time students.

Studies have demonstrated that employed youth perform better in school, gain critical job skills and are more likely to graduate from high school and college than their peers. The reduction in weekly hours enables students who are enrolled full time in high school or college to better balance work and academics, while also allowing businesses to continue their participation in this program. The reduction in required hours also means that businesses may be able to hire additional part-time youth workers, further chipping away at the high rate of unemployment among this age group.

More information on the workers comp bonds is available at governor.ny.gov, and information on the Youth Works tax credit is at labor.ny.gov.

Environmental Services Unit seeks to spark business growth and create jobs while protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment

Empire State Development does more than just work to grow the economy in New York State; its Environmental Services Unit administers programs that provide financial and technical assistance to businesses that want to have a positive impact on our natural environment as they grow. 

For example, the Environmental Investment Program (EIP) provides grants to small businesses seeking to improve their economic competitiveness through enhanced environmental performance and efficient use of natural resources with pollution prevention, waste reduction, recycling and sustainable product development. To date, 400 small businesses have received grants totaling over $61 million and leveraging close to $192 million in private investment.

Under the EIP, grants are provided for three purposes: as capital to offset the cost of new machinery and equipment; to secure technical assistance that helps businesses identify sustainable practices; and to spur research and development to help bring an environmental technology or product from prototype to commercialization.  Applications are accepted through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application process on an annual cycle.  

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One successful EIP grant was awarded to a research and development team who perfected a process for mixing agricultural waste and paper mill sludge with mushrooms to make biodegradable packaging material that can be molded into various shapes. The product has been commercialized and the company has grown from 2 to 53 employees in just a short period of time. 

The Environmental Services Unit also administers the Small Business Environmental Ombudsman Program (SBEO). The program was created under the Clean Air Act to provide small business owners with free, confidential assistance to understand and comply with environmental regulatory requirements. 

SBEO also advocates on behalf of businesses and business sectors in cases where regulatory requirements or enforcement provisions present undue hardship to the operation of the business, and may adversely impact the New York economy. Working closely with the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), SBEO performs outreach services, handles complaints, and serves as a resource for small business while EFC provides technical and compliance assistance.    

Further information on programs available through ESD’s Environmental Services Unit is available at esd.ny.gov/BusinessPrograms/EIP.html

Oscars, Golden Globes and SAG Awards all recognize New York-based productions

As the major Film / TV awards season heats up, New York State is coming on strong. Projects filmed in New York, or that had post-production services done here in the Empire State, fared well as nominees were announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Screen Actors Guild. 

For example, when the nominees were announced for the 2014 Academy Awards, Wolf of Wall Street scored five Oscar nominations and Inside Llewyn Davis scored two.  Both movies were filmed in New York and participated in the New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program.  Blue Jasmine, a participant in the New York State Post Production Credit Program, received three nominations. Combined, these three films created almost 7,600 jobs for New Yorkers and contributed approximately $122 million to the New York economy.

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Ten New York-based productions received 17 nominations for the 2014 Golden Globe Annual Awards, while six New York-based productions earned 11 nominations for 2014 SAG Awards. Both television and feature films were among the New York-based productions, all of which participate in the state’s highly successful Film Tax Credit program. Phil Spector, Blue Jasmine and Nurse Jackie earned both Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations, while Inside Llewyn Davis and The Good Wife led the Empire State by earning three Golden Globe nominations each, as did The Butler by earning three SAG nominations.

Governor Cuomo congratulated all the New York nominees and celebrated movies filmed and posted in New York State, saying, “New York’s media and entertainment industry – as a result of our newly expanded New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program – is experiencing its most active and productive period in history, creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars. I want to encourage future filmmakers to build upon the success of the last few years and expand job opportunities by bringing even more productions to our great state.” 

For more information on the nominees and the NYS Film Production Tax Credit Program, read the NYS Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development’s (MPTV) monthly newsletter here.