News about federal/state policy

State Senate committee hearings on video gaming and cybersecurity industries focus on our member incubators

In a series of hearings around the state, the new state Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship chaired by Sen. Martin Golden (R,C,I - Brooklyn) is touching several of our member incubators.

In its first set of hearings on the video-game industry, the committee held:

Video records of the testimony are available at those links.

Next up is a joint session on the cybersecurity industry, which will be held at our member the Griffiss Institute incubator program, and involves several other committees.

New START-UP NY legislation provides important roles for business incubators

New York State's new START-UP NY legislation, a program proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create tax-free zones on certain public and private university campuses statewide, passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the Governor, including important additional provisions pertaining to incubators added by the state Senate:

  • incubators will also be tax-free zones provided they demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Economic Development, a bona fide affiliation with a university campus approved for participation in the tax-free zone program;
  • Graduates of incubators thus designated may enter the new tax-free zones as if they were new businesses, bypassing a requirement that otherwise restricts entrants to the tax-free zones; 
  • Existing incubator tenants may be eligible for tax-free treatment under certain circumstances, if they are adding new jobs in a new corporate vehicle.

Under this program, approved companies in approved START-UP NY zones pay no business, sales or property tax for 10 years, and their employees pay no personal income tax for the first five years and none up to a scaled threshhold in the succeeding five years. Companies approved for tax-free status must work in industry sectors aligned with the academic mission of the partnered campus. Under accountability rules built into the legislation, approved companies must generally be adding new jobs or moving into the state, and not simply moving from one part of the state to another, and so the exception for incubator graduates moving into their affiliated campus's tax-free zone is quite an important recognition of their growth potential. For more information, please see the Governor's end of session report, attached.

These benefits for incubators are separate from the Innovation Hot Spot and New York State Incubator programs included in the budget agreement and previously described here.

We thank the state's elected officials in both branches, both chambers and all parties for their strong support of business incubation in the legislative session just concluded and look forward to working with all interested parties on successful implementation of these aggressive economic-development programs. 

Final NYS Budget for 2013-14 merges Governor's and state Senate's incubator programs, with additional support from the state Assembly

New York State's final enacted budget for 2013-2014 includes the strongest-ever support for business incubation as a critical component of the state's overall economic-development strategy. Through negotiations that led to the final budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo's vision for tax-free Innovation Hot Spots was merged with key provisions of the Business Incubator Support Act proposed by Senator Martin Golden. The package also received approval from the state Assembly.

Under new statutory language included in Part C of the final "revenue bill," incubators that follow nationally recognized best practices will be eligible to apply for recognition as a "New York State Incubator" by Empire State Development Corp., the state's principal economic-development entity. ESDC is further empowered and funded to make grants to these designated incubators to support the kinds of business-growth services that distinguish excellent and effective incubator programs from the rest.

A subset of designated New York State Incubators with particularly strong ties to university R&D will also be eligible to apply for tax-free status for up to five years for qualifying tenant/clients. The state expects to designate and support one such "Innovation Hot Spot" in each of 10 economic regions, starting with five in the coming year. 

For more information, see Governor Cuomo's news release, the state Senate's news release, or a specific news release from Senator Golden (see attached). Our association and our members warmly appreciate the ability of all branches of government, both legislative chambers, and all political parties to achieve a joint vision for advancing the practice of business incubation statewide.

New Business Incubator Support Act introduced in state Senate

A new bill to recognize business incubators for adherence to best practice and make them eligible for financial support has been introduced in the state Senate. The Business Incubator Support Act (S-4078) was introduced by Senator Martin Golden (R,C,I-Brooklyn), the recently named chairman of the Senate's Select Commitee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship.

The bill sets up a system to encourage development of a wide range of incubator types and recognizes for the first time the state's interest in supporting operational excellence, backed by regular reporting and accountability on economic outcomes.  As such, this bill represents a completely new approach to the state's interest in a robust business-incubator system statewide, and our board of directors has endorsed it.

The bill is also referenced in the state Senate's budget resolution, which means it will be part of ongoing negotiations between the two chambers of the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has proposed funding for a Innovation Hot Spot program to recognize and support one flagship incubator in each economic region. In our view, the two approaches are complementary and we hope for a negotiated outcome that achieves maximum impact from both approaches.

The full text of S-4078 is available here. We thank the sponsor and co-sponsors for their commitment to business incubation as one component of a balanced state economic-development strategy.

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