Glens Falls Economic/Community Development Director Edward Bartholomew has been driving around measuring the distance between SUNY Adirondack and industrial sites in Queensbury and Glens Falls.
If the odometer in his car is correct, the industrial site D.A. Collins owns on Bay Road, near where the bike trail crosses the road south of Hannaford supermarket, is exactly one mile, via road miles, from the community college — the distance to be automatically eligible for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up New York plan.
But it’s still unclear whether the parameters will be determined by road distance or “as the crow flies” distance, Bartholomew said.
The program, which the Legislature recently approved, will provide tax breaks for companies that relocate to New York or for local start-up and expanding companies that meet specified criteria and are associated with the mission of a community college or state university.
The companies must be located within one mile of a college, be associated with a college incubator program or receive special approval from Empire State Development Corp.
Expanding companies must be adding a new product line or opening a new facility to qualify, and companies must demonstrate the project is creating new jobs.
Specific local implications of the program won’t be known for a while because each college must prepare a plan and have it approved by the state, said Bartholomew, who also is chief executive officer of the Adirondack Gateway Council, a coalition of government and planning entities in Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga Counties.
SUNY Adirondack will most likely tailor its plan around the college’s goal to expand course offerings in science, technology, engineering and math, known by the acronym STEM, said outgoing college President Ronald Heacock.
Alternative energy, niche technology or health care companies would be logical types of businesses to recruit, he said.
“I think we have to look for some unique opportunities, and I think the college will find some,” he said.
Heacock said the college hopes to build a
STEM building on campus, but it could be a challenge to find a partner company willing to invest in construction.
“We have land that we could partner with people on, but we don’t have (existing) facilities,” he said.
Heacock said there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the new program.
“I think the first step is the board and the new president meeting with the Warren County Economic Development Committee and the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce to make sure that local business leaders are involved in the process,” he said.
Companies cannot compete with existing employers.
“We couldn’t, for example, reach out to a medical device company and bring them in to work with them. That would be unfair competition,” he said.
Queensbury Supervisor Ron Montesi said excluding medical device companies does not seem logical, considering the sector is a major focus of the county’s economic development strategy.
“Our area, what are we known for? Catheters,” Montesi said. “I don’t have a warm, fuzzy feeling about this program, but it is what it is. We’ll see if it clicks.”
Bartholomew said along with establishing Start-Up New York, the Legislature modified other state economic development
programs to make it easier for less urban areas such as the Glens Falls region to recruit companies.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said Start-Up New York could be helpful with his initiative to help area economic development officials recruit Canadian companies.
“We now have a unique tool that gives us an advantage against other states,” he said.
Owens said the new program is very similar to the state’s former Empire Zone program, which former Gov. Mario Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s father, established and former Gov. George Pataki expanded.
“We were very successful with using Empire Zones in the northern part of the district to recruit Canadian companies,” he said.