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State budget affects Empire Zone work

SCHUYLER, YATES COUNTIES—The New York budget crisis will affect hundreds of important programs throughout the state. The Empire Zone project is one of those programs. Kelsey Jones, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), explained the problem of the proposed budget cutbacks along with the need to continue day-to-day operations of their office. Jones said, “Our concern of course is funding for the Empire Zone program. We are six months into a program year that began July 1 and we still have not seen funding from the state. This severely impacts our budget and yet we have to continue to operate and provide services as expected for the program. In the meantime, we must continue to process applications and the multitude of reports required by the state for existing certified zone businesses. 
“Of grave concern is that if the program disappears, how competitive are we going to be with other states? Property taxes, school taxes, gasoline, electric and many other costs of doing business are much less only 40 minutes to the south of us in Pennsylvania. New York is the most beautiful state in the entire country, without a doubt, but our costs of doing business are put of line compared to many other states.” 
By comparison, Yates County was one of the last counties to be approved as an Empire Zone area. Ryan Hallings, Yates County Empire Zone coordinator, said, “The program may be cut in half. It will decertify counties not meeting what they agreed to do when they were certified.” Hallings said, “Another change is that retail businesses would not be eligible for Empire Zone benefits.”

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