NORWICH – Uncertainty surrounding New York’s Empire Development Zone program is damaging its reputation with site selectors and companies that might otherwise look favorably upon Chenango County.
Commerce Chenango President Maureen Carpenter said her agency continues to work with new businesses that may be eligible to apply for the program’s benefits, but, to date, the EDZ has changed so much that its fate is “in limbo,” she said.
Already the 17-page long application process is confusing and filled with caveats. And the program is expected to sunset on June 30. State economic development officials say they plan to create a replacement program, but nothing officially has been announced.
“One thing is clear,” Carpenter wrote in the not-for-profit agency’s annual report. “Chenango County and New York State need an economic development incentive program in order to compete with the 48 states that rank lower than ours in terms of the cost of doing business. In addition to costing less, most states also have economic development incentive programs – rendering some business environments nearly tax free.”
Another thing is clear: the money for administering the program locally is getting very tight. The 41 businesses in Chenango County (see sidebar) that are zoned to receive potential tax exemptions and other benefits will be grandfathered in after June, and some may need administrative assistance from Commerce Chenango for up to 10 years. Not all have claimed tax credits over the years, and not all will demonstrate the necessary investment and job growth required to receive the benefits, but Commerce Chenango is required to do annual reporting for them regardless.