Start-Up NY Changes Are A Welcome Sight

After three years and dozens of pleas for patience, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 state budget proposal includes substantive changes to the Start-UpNY program.

It’s about time.

Start-Up NY was costly from the start; more than $200 million was spent advertising a program that created fewer than 500 jobs across New York state. Start-Up was initially aimed at helping new businesses get off the ground, but the program ended up doing just as much for established businesses — like New Flyer, which opened in Jamestown recently after a lengthy history making parts for New York City transit buses. While Jamestown welcomes the jobs and investment in a building that had been vacant for nearly a decade, companies like New Flyer were certainly not what Cuomo had in mind when he created the Start-Up NY program. Start-Up NY might have had more impact if it didn’t cost so much time and money for companies to participate. Chautauqua County has had only one business make it through the process, but several companies expressed interest and chose not to use Start-Up NY for one reason or another.

At least Cuomo had the good sense to realize Start-Up NY wasn’t working as it was intended. Tweaking the program can fix some of the problems businesses had using Start-Up NY and address some of the wasted money spent advertising the program.

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, recently articulated one problem Cuomo’s proposal doesn’t fix. “The fundamental problem is that in order to promote how valuable the tax-free status is, those who are promoting Start-Up NY have to point out how high taxes are after that 10-year period expires,” he told The Post-Journal last week. Tax incentive programs will be a necessary evil until New York — and its lower levels of government — wrap their arms around the overall problem of taxes and regulations. That is not an overnight process. If Start-Up NY and the Excelsior Business Program are necessary, then they should be as transparent and easy for businesses to use as possible.