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Politicians urges tax breaks to lure biotech companies to New York City

 

    Daily News: Politicians urges tax breaks to lure biotech companies to New York City

    By Frank Lombardi

    A group of city and state legislators is out to woo the biotech industry away from the likes of Boston and San Diego by offering valuable tax breaks.

    "Why aren't we already the biotech leader in this country?" asked Council Speaker Christine Quinn in announcing a push to attract - or expand - biotech companies to the five boroughs with $3 million in tax breaks a year.

    The proposed breaks would be similar to the current refundable business tax credits that have helped attract and expand film and television work in the city.

    Eligible firms could receive credits worth up to $250,000 a year, renewable for up to four years. The credits are aimed at budding firms with fewer than 110 employes.

    Quinn estimated 800 to 1,000 jobs could be created "with the first wave of credits."

    She was joined at a City Hall press conference by several other Council members, state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) and Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Queens).

    The two state legislators are sponsoring Albany bills authorizing the tax breaks.

    Backers of the move view the bioscience industry as a potential tax revenue source for the city, which they say is now too vulnerable to Wall Street's booms and busts.

    Loosely defined, biotechnology is researching or commercializing the use of microorganisms or biological substances - such as bacteria, enzymes and plants - for medical or industrial uses.

    "What we really are talking about here is developing the next vaccine for AIDS or the cure for Parkinson's or the cure to food allergies," said City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan).

    Dr. Sharon Mates, chairwoman of the New York Biotechnology Association and CEO of Intra-Cellular Therapies Inc., a biotech company headquartered in Manhattan, said, "I really support this [effort] wholeheartedly, and I really thank you for doing this."

    Quinn noted that the city already has created new office and working space for biotech firms at the East River Science Park, a $700 million complex near Bellevue Hospital Center and at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.