How to boost business growth

How does New York help businesses grow and prosper this new year and in the future? The best answer is lower taxes, workers' compensation rates and energy costs.

However, the state has developed additional tools to help businesses stay in and relocate to New York.

The economic development zones (EDZs) program was created in 1986 to stimulate economic growth in the state's most severely distressed areas. In 2000 the program was greatly expanded to create empire zones. Empire zone tax incentives and benefits include wage tax credits, investment tax credits, sales tax exemptions, zone capital credits, utility rate reductions, and special low-interest loans and priority attention by state agencies.

New York State is a recognized leader in high technology research and commercialization as a result of the senate majority's ongoing support for creation of specialized research and development centers, state-of-the-art laboratories, manufacturing process development facilities, and high technology education and training programs. In keeping with its tradition of support for strengthening the state's economy through investment in research and development, the senate majority was instrumental in securing funding for the new Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center and the new Center of Innovation and Excellence in Homeland Security.



Recognizing the importance of ongoing support for the state's tourism industry, in 2006 the state enacted the New York State Marketing Act. Highlights of the legislation include creating a master plan for marketing the state's vast travel and tourism assets, codifying branding and licensing practices for the "I Love NY" brand, and developing a one-stop user friendly travel web site. In addition, the act establishes a new regional tourism marketing grant program, "Explore New York State."

The 2005 budget converted NYSTAR, a state agency, to a public benefit corporation, The New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. The conversion will keep the state's existing research and development infrastructure intact, while enabling it to make needed small grants and loans to the state's companies.

This year's budget funds a variety of innovative small business development programs that offer services including industry specific technical assistance and training. Examples of these programs include $250,000 for the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), $500,000 for the Chief Executives Network for Manufacturing Training program, $1.3 million for the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, and $650,000 for the Emerging Industries Alliance.

In addition, the budget provides $800,000 to support the new Small Business Pollution Prevention program, which was established to help the state's small businesses implement effective and affordable methods for reducing waste in order to protect worker and community health and the environment while enhancing companies' competitiveness.

The state increased the cap on the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program from $350 million to $410 million to allow more of the state's businesses to access affordable capital. Eligible businesses that have identified projects or investments that will improve their performance and competitiveness may apply to obtain reduced rate bank loans subsidized by "linked" state deposits.

The "Power for Jobs" program was a senate initiative in which low-cost power is made available to businesses and not-for-profit corporations, and tax credits are granted to utilities that provide power for the program. The program has been credited with creating or retaining approximately 300,000 jobs since its inception.

The state's Restore New York's Communities Initiative is aimed at transforming neighborhoods and commercial centers dominated by dilapidated, outmoded buildings into places that encourage investment and hope for the future. The budget provides $300 million to municipalities to implement plans for demolition or rehabilitation and reconstruction of blighted and unused residential or commercial structures. Projects will be selected for funding on a competitive basis with priority given to projects located in economically distressed communities.

In 2006, the legislature established a loan forgiveness program for several universities provided that provides a substantial boost for economic development efforts at the designated universities and surrounding communities.

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