Chamber Corner

Tax Free NY – One tool in what should be a whole shed

By TODD TRANUM

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

Calling the Tax Free NY proposal an “opportunity to change the economic landscape” of our state, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy addressed business, education and political leaders at JCC’s Jamestown Campus Thursday.

Tax Free NY is designed to boost upstate economic development by trying to lure new or growing companies to vacant SUNY campus space, offering them substantial tax breaks in the process. As with most projects that are subject to the whims of Albany, the devil is in the details.

As the legislation is currently written, businesses must meet certain criteria to be eligible. That includes being a new or an expanding business that creates new jobs, or one that has completed residency in a business incubator. The business must also be aligned with or advance the academic mission of the school. Eligible properties include vacant land or building space on a SUNY or community college campus, and up to 200,000 square feet of vacant land or leased space by a college within one mile of a SUNY school.

The business would be, essentially, tax free for 10 years. That includes zero income tax for both the company owners and employees for the first five years.

On the surface, this looks like a positive move for much-needed economic development in upstate New York. In reality, it is just one more tool that may be able to jump-start some job growth where it is most needed. We are hopeful that there will be enough flexibility to allow the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk to be part of the program.

Since taking office, Duffy has been largely responsible for overseeing New York’s revamped Regional Economic Development Councils. He understands the needs throughout the state. As a former Mayor of Rochester, he also understands some of the specific problems facing Western New York and upstate cities that have seen many long-time companies closed or downsized.

Duffy said there will be no net revenue loss to New York state from this proposal. In addition, he was quick to point out that “our workforce is second to none. We have a great work ethic and spirit here.”

While the goals of the Tax Free NY plan are laudable, we recognize that New York state still needs to do some substantial work to rebuild its entire structure of taxes and benefits in order to become more attractive to businesses of all types and in all parts of the state. This is one tool. What we need is a whole shed full of tools to help business thrive statewide.

Experience Chautauqua aboard the Summer Wind

Once again this year the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner with Summer Wind Cruises to present an Experience Chautauqua Networking event. This time, Captain Rick has offered a full three-hour cruise for Chamber members in a delightful evening on Chautauqua Lake.

The cruise is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 20. Registration begins at 4:30 at the ships dock adjacent to Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron, and the ship will sail at 5 p.m. All attendees should plan to remain for the entire three hour cruise as the Summer Wind will not return to dock prior to 8 p.m.

This special evening is sponsored for Chamber members by Affinity One Federal Credit Union, Blackstone Ney Ultrasonics, Jamestown Jammers Baseball, KeyBank and Univera Healthcare Southern Tier. The cost is just $8 for pre-registered guests or $10 for walk-ins at the dock. Register now to be assured of a place, as seating is limited on the ship. You can register online at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call the Chamber at 484-1101 or 366-6200.

Chamber Golf Tournament Aug. 15

The 2013 Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament will be held Thursday, Aug. 15 at Peek’n Peak. This year’s event offers golfers a chance to play on the Peek’s Upper Course – a championship caliber course which offers optimum playing conditions in a spectacular setting. In addition, each team can choose whether they want to play a scramble or a two best ball format this year.

The Chamber Golf Tournament is being sponsored this year by DFT Communications, Community Bank NA, Cummins, Inc., Fredonia Place, GHD Consulting Engineers, Greater Woodlawn FCU, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas, Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal. For more information or to register, visit the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call 484-1101 or 366-6200.