Of the fountain of ideas Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has had for restarting the economy in Buffalo and around the state, none has seemed more theoretical than Start-Up NY, a program that offers significant tax incentives to companies that open or expand on or near state university campuses and whose missions jibe with those campuses.
The proposal, which Cuomo announced a year ago, required legislative approval and then needed to find companies wanting to take advantage of the offer. Now we learn that the program is working. What was theoretical is about to be physical. Seven companies have been identified that will move into the tax-free zones supported by the University at Buffalo.
Under Start-Up NY, these companies will pay no sales taxes, property taxes, business taxes or corporate taxes for a decade. In addition, employees of these companies will pay no state income taxes for up to 10 years.
It was always a creative idea. It eliminates what is probably the top objection of businesses thinking about starting in or moving to New York: the high costs associated with locating in the nation’s highest-taxed state. This program not only eliminates that problem for companies that meet its requirements, but it puts the state far ahead of others. Now, after a year’s gestation, Start-Up NY is about to give birth to its first Western New York companies. They are:
• Aesku Diagnostics. It is a German medical diagnostics company that plans to hire 50 employees over five years.
• CoachMePlus. Its Web-based application collects data on athletes for coaches and trainers. The number of new employees is unknown.
• Decision Pace. This is a startup that developed a Web-based, data-visualization application. It plans to hire 43 new employees over five years.
• Heads Up Display. The company has designed a high-tech, industrial safety device and initially plans for three new employees.
• Lineagen. The company performs tests on children who display clinical symptoms of developmental delay. Its initial plans are for eight new employees.
•Sinapis Pharma. The company is testing the use of low-dose methamphetamine to treat brain injuries. It expects to hire two or three employees initially.
• Nupur Technologies. Information is unavailable for this company, which has registered its name with state Department of State with an address in Lewiston.
In addition to the tax incentives, executives say they were attracted to Buffalo for the chance to work closely with UB scientists and physicians.
These seven companies are just the first of a wave of businesses expected to set up shop on or near State University of New York campuses.
By their very nature, startups are precarious undertakings. Typically, most will fail, though New York State has given these organizations a tremendous advantage by forestalling the tax burden that would additionally imperil their likelihood of success.
The companies will have 10 years before taxes kick in and, assuming they survive, should be well enough established by then that they will remain in Western New York, and perhaps even thrive.
That’s the goal of Start-Up NY, and it’s good to see it under way.