Empire Zone Issues Make It Difficult To Push Chenango, Economic Officials Say
Published: September 10th, 2009
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – It is becoming increasingly difficult to market existing businesses and to attract more industry and employees to Chenango County in the shadow of a floundering New York State Empire Zone program.

Not only did local businesses in designated zones lose their upfront sale tax exemptions on Sept. 1, but cuts to the often scrutinized, 23 year-old program could mean a loss of 1.5 employees from Commerce Chenango next year.

Commerce Chenango President Maureen Carpenter told members of the county’s Planning and Economic Development Committee that she wouldn’t be able to afford staff who conduct economic development activities on behalf of the county. Her program stands to lose about $75,000 in administrative funds after a $2.5 million state budget take back this year.

“We still haven’t received all of our money from last year. We’ve kind of been told not to expect those funds to be back in the budget,” she said.

Carpenter asked the committee to add $26,000 to Chenango County’s publicity budget for 2010. The remaining amount needed could possibly be garnered from grants and other business development organizations that serve the county, such as the Industrial Development Agency, she said.

Taxpayers will spend $155,000 for business development, promotion and tourism this year. Advertising dollars from the state’s I Love New York matching grant program have also been cut; the county received less than half of its $81,500 request for 2009. That program may also be slashed entirely next year, said Tourism Director Audrey Robinson.

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