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Empire Zone will get less funding

PENN YAN—The state budget process is expected to affect Yates County’s new Empire Zone. Businesses located in Empire Zones receive tax benefits on state taxes and Yates County was one of the last in the state to be included in the program. Late last year two local businesses, Dundee Foods and Premium Copack, received approval from the local Empire Zone board to be included in the program. Yates County is still waiting to hear if the applications have been approved for the program and now it appears the program is facing severe cuts if not elimination.
Yates County Empire Zone coordinator Ryan Hallings said the program is proposed to end June 30, 2010. Another change being considered is approval of all applications by the state, rather than by local boards. He said, “The  local board can decide what projects to put forward but they would not vote.”
Another change is the formula that is required for cost befits, which is currently 15 to 1. Hallings explained the formula determines the total capital investments, wages and benefits over five years divided by Empire Zone benefits. A new requirement of 20 to 1 would be a disadvantage to upstate areas. The manufacturing formula would help here, according to Hallings. He said that formula is 10 to 1 and could help larger Yates County manufacturers.
Earlier this month Sen. George Winner had proposed an amendment to do away with changes being enacted, rejecting changes until a new economic development strategy was worked out and put in place by the governor and legislature. It was defeated in a 31 to 30 party line vote.
A communication from Winner said, “The Democratic budget makes the border of New York State one long ‘Going Out of Business’ sign. It eliminates upstate New York’s number one economic development tool during the worst economic crisis any of us can remember. It could stop local economic development dead in its tracks.” Despite the news, Hallings said, “I’m optimistic. The state knows we need an economic development program.”

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