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State gives Empire Zone less funding

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Changes were also made to the New York’s Empire Zone program in the state’s current budget.
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) makes use of the Empire Zone for the projects they help.  The program was created to offer state tax incentives to attract business to New York.
Kelsey Jones, director of SCOPED, said the biggest change was that decision making has been taken away from local administrators.  A press release from Sen. George Winner said decision making would be done in Albany now.  Jones added SCOPED will be getting no more administrative funding.
“The local communities have a much better idea how to manage projects,” he said.  Jones added administration funding would have to come from elsewhere.
“The legislature is not coming up with other programs so we can compete with other programs in other states,” Jones said.  He also said the Empire Zone Board’s powers would be greatly diminished under the current budget.  They would not being to assist projects like they have been.
Winner’s press release said the budget’s change will make it harder for existing businesses to qualify for benefits.  The end of the program was also moved up to June 2010.  Jones said the program would be cut short from the original end date by about six months.
Earlier this month 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 at the state level in a 31 to 30 party line vote. 

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