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Cuomo proposes tax-free zones on SUNY campuses

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils his "Tax-Free NY" proposal to a packed house in the Drama Theater in the Center for the Arts. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi.


Published May 23, 2013

“We birth the ideas in New York because we have the schools and we have the minds and we have the talent, but we lose the businesses.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo came to UB yesterday to announce a “game-changing” initiative to attract businesses to SUNY campuses and areas around the campuses.

The governor’s “Tax-Free NY” proposal would designate all SUNY campuses and community colleges outside of New York City, as well as up to 200,000 square feet of space adjoining the campuses, as tax-free communities.

Under the plan, new companies and existing companies that relocate to unused space in these tax-free zones—and which partner with a SUNY institution—would be exempt from sales, property or business taxes for a decade. Company employees would be exempt from income taxes for a decade as well.

The proposal must be approved by the state Legislature before it can be implemented.

The initiative would “shatter the perception once and for all” that New York is an anti-business state, Cuomo told a capacity crowd of more than 400 in UB’s Center for the Arts Drama Theater.  

“There is no place you could go in the United States of America where you would pay less taxes than you’re paying in these communities; that’s what tax-free means,” Cuomo said.  “There is no state in the country that would have any advantage over these areas.”

SUNY campuses in upstate New York are a desirable location for these tax-free communities, he said, because of the positive synergy that exists between higher education and entrepreneurial activity, and because of the campuses’ proximity to cities and towns throughout the state.

 “You look at the really great higher education institutions in this country, they’re birthing businesses every day,” Cuomo said. “We birth the ideas in New York because we have the schools and we have the minds and we have the talent, but we lose the businesses.

“Our answer to that is job creation through higher ed campuses that we make tax-free communities.”  

President Satish K. Tripathi said the Tax-Free NY proposal is an example of the governor’s bold efforts over the past two years to ensure that SUNY schools play a key role in revitalizing the upstate economy.

“Gov. Cuomo has consistently been a champion of the vital role that UB and our fellow SUNY institutions play in building a strong, knowledge-based economy in our regions and state,” Tripathi said. 

“This exciting proposal has tremendous promise for advancing the work of research universities like UB in generating ideas, discoveries and innovations that spur job creation and attract new businesses to our communities.”

The program will target startup businesses, out-of-state companies and existing companies that expand their operations to create new jobs, Cuomo said. To be eligible, the companies must have a relationship with the university and must be working in a capacity that is related to the school’s academic mission.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said the new tax-free zones will further SUNY’s “ability to innovate, create jobs and attract new companies through public-private partnerships.”

“I want to thank the governor for supporting SUNY and for continuing to raise the bar for higher education in New York State,” she said.

Officials and representatives from UB, Fredonia State, SUNY Buffalo State, Brockport State, Erie Community College and Niagara Community College attended the announcement at UB.


No government is ever so poor or broke that it won't increase the welfare subsidy giveaway to landowners. New York State and its decades-long history of providing sweet subsidies and privileges to connected landowners and speculators, at the expense of every other business and citizen have shown the futility of these sorts of programs. Someone will get rich, a few people will get some jobs, but New York State must change its entire structure of both revenue collection and revenue spending. Everybody's taxes on business, wages and commerce ought to be reduced in favor of a nondestructive tax based on land value.

Joshua Vincent