Legislators Want Answers About Start-Up NY; Five Businesses Expected To Qualify

MAYVILLE – An update on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY initiative was the main focus of the Planning and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday night.

Mark Geise, deputy director of planning and economic development, presented the committee with information about how the program is progressing.

So far, 12 businesses have applied through SUNY Fredonia to take part in the initiative, which allows businesses to operate tax free for up to 10 years in conjunction with SUNY universities and community colleges.

Geise said five of the 12 businesses are expected to qualify for the program, while two out of seven businesses will most likely qualify through Jamestown Community College.

SUNY Fredonia is focusing on agribusiness, technology and business opportunities related to SUNY’s mission, while JCC is focused on manufacturing, biotechnology and service-related professions.

“Start-Up NY is the only thing we’ve seen come out of Albany that recognizes we have a hostile business community,” said George Borrello, R-Irving.

Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, questioned why less than half of the businesses applying were qualified, but Geise relayed that he had been sent to the meeting as a messenger, and did not have more information than what was provided.

“One of the intentions of receiving this presentation was to understand actions being taken, but what I’m interested in is the marketing that’s going on,” said Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point.

Shawn Heenan, D-Dunkirk, agreed, and said he wanted to know how Chautauqua County will stand out when businesses consider New York.

Although Geise could not provide details as to when the start-up companies will begin doing business, County Executive Vince Horrigan said he had been having weekly conference calls.

“We’ve got these updates, and we will go from there,” he said.

Chagnon noted that, as of April, the number of unemployed county residents was 10.5 percent, compared to 6.7 percent in Cattaraugus County and 4.2 percent in Erie County.

“We still have a lot of challenges, but we have large opportunities and I’d like to harness those opportunities,” Chagnon said.

A resolution was discussed to fund five waterway projects with the county’s 2 percent occupancy tax.

An amount of $94,300 will be used for streambank, ditch and shoreline stabilization at Goose Creek, Bly Hill Road and Camp Merz, respectively. The village of Silver Creek will receive $40,000 for Silver Creek streambank protection, while $2,650 will be used for Canadaway Creek habitat restoration.

All matters will be further discussed for approval at Wednesday’s meeting of the full County Legislature at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.