February 25, 2014

County Initiative Begins Accepting Investments

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By SUSHMITHA KRISHNAMOOTHY

Transform Tompkins, a new initiative planned to stimulate high tech companies in the county, began its public phase of investment at the Ithaca Country Club on Feb. 20. The effort was launched by Tompkins County Area Development, a private nonprofit organization that seeks “to build a thriving and sustainable economy in Tompkins County.”

According Michael Stamm, president of TCAD, the goal of Transform Tompkins is to attract new technology businesses to Tompkins County as well as improve current ones.

“Transform Tompkins focuses on technology commercialization, supporting new high tech companies, expanding existing companies and modernizing traditional manufacturing companies,” Stamm said. “It will also support TCAD’s efforts to create quality jobs.”

So far, local and regional employers of Tompkins have committed $961,200 , or 69 percent of the investment goal of $1.4 million to Transform Tompkins. Top investors include Cornell University, Tompkins Trust Company and Travis Hyde Properties, according to a TCAD press release.

“We plan to wrap up the effort to raise the capital by April of this year,” Stamm said. “Those funds will support efforts over the next five years through 2018. For the five year period, we have established several goals related to new job creation and private sector investment.”

According to Greg Galvin, CEO and chairman of Rheonix, a molecular diagnostics company in Ithaca, the capital will augment TCAD’s economic development mission by helping new businesses find funding, becoming familar with different state incentive programs and finding space and negotiating leases.

“Under Transform Tompkins, TCAD’s efforts will also be directed at trying to increase the commercialization of technology here at the county through the startups and new technologies coming out of the academic institutions located here,” Galvin said.

As a member of TCAD, Cornell University will also be working support business growth through its existing programs, according to Mary Opperman, vice president of Human Resources at Cornell University and co-chair of the Transform Tompkins Campaign.

“Our plans to open a downtown incubator in partnership with Ithaca College and Tompkins County Community College will help entrepreneurs in the local community, as well as students from our institutions, receive the support and assistance they need to further their innovative ideas,” Opperman said.

Opperman also said Transform Tompkins will work in conjunction with New York State’s START-UP NY program, which offers tax incentives to new and expanding businesses for generating employment.

“These programs will be coordinated with and supported by TCAD and the increased capacity they will have due to Transform Tompkins will make our county even more attractive to businesses looking to grow and locate in our area,” Opperman said.

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