March 18, 2014

Cornell to Provide Tax-Free Zones for State Start-Ups

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By DAVID JANECZEK

Cornell has recently been granted state approval for tax-free zones to house start-up companies in areas aligned with the University’s academic mission, according to University officials.

Businesses eligible for the program include companies involved in research collaborations with a Cornell department, firms commercializing research done at the University or companies that offer co-ops or internships to Cornell students, according to Tom Schryver ’95 MBA ’02, executive director of new venture advancement.

Cornell students will be able to benefit from the program through more experiential learning and research opportunities, according to Schryver.

“Having a diverse and robust economy around the University is a great thing for students,” he said.

Prospective tenants — including Cornell alumni — have indicated interest in the approved properties, according to Caitlin Schickel, a regional economic development specialist for the University.

“We’ve been fielding calls from over two dozen companies, some more viable than others,” Schickel said.

The approved sites include office and lab space in the Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences in Weill Hall, unused dairy barns in Harford and office space and developable land in Cornell’s Business and Technology Park in Lansing, according to the plan submitted by Cornell to the state.

Businesses eligible for the program are generally involved in research or high-tech manufacturing and cannot be focused on hospitality, financial services or consumer services, according to Schickel.

The grant comes is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP N.Y. program — an economic development initiative that allows new businesses to avoid paying state taxes for up to 10 years if they locate close to a community college or a public or private university, according to the START-UP N.Y. website.

“We’re finding that some [out-of-state] businesses are interested in coming to New York, or there are other businesses that are in New York thinking about where they want to put new divisions and expand,” Schryver said.

The benefits to companies accepted into the program are significant, according to Schickel.

“All new employees get the benefit of no state income tax, there is no state corporate tax and no sales tax for the start-ups,” Schickel said.

Some of the properties made available by Cornell are also property tax-exempt, meaning that companies located on these properties will have the added benefit of no property taxes, according to Schickel.

The University’s participation in the START-UP N.Y. program is just one initiative in a series of Cornell’s attempts to help grow the surrounding economy, according to Schryver. Other programs include the Downtown Ithaca Business Incubator, headed by a partnership involving Cornell, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College through the Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, a state plan meant to fund economic development in the region, The Sun previously reported.

“We’re looking to create structures from business incubation to mentoring and support as well as this START-UP N.Y. opportunity,” Schryver said. “So that if anybody wants to start and grow a business in the region, including students here at Cornell or at one of the other colleges in the region, they have the support structures to do it.”

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