Empire Zones At Last

James L. Seward

July 26, 2006

State Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I, Milford) announced empire zones today for three counties in his senatorial district -- Greene, Schoharie and Tompkins Counties. The empire zones were created by the legislature and governor last year for the remaining 12 counties in the state without zone designations. They are being named over a period of three years, with the final round beginning in 2007.

"This is great news and the fruit of a lot of work by local officials, business groups and area legislators," Seward said. "The counties in my district without zone designations -- Schoharie, Tompkins and Greene -- have been at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting new business growth and development. Today's announcement means the start of an economic rebirth for many sections of these counties that need the tax advantages offered by empire zones."

Empire zones offer businesses a range of significant tax benefits tied to job creation and investment. Benefits include tax credits, sales tax exemptions, wage tax credits, and utility rate reductions. A company's tax liability can be eliminated in some cases due to zone benefits.

The empire zone program started as "enterprise zones" in the 1980s. They were created to stimulate economic growth through a variety of tax incentives, to attract new businesses to New York and to expand and create jobs.

"Schoharie County’s designation as an empire zone is a monumental and exciting event," said Planning Director Alicia Terry. "Since losing 75% of our manufacturing employment in September of 2001 we have been working very hard through many partnerships at the county and state level, with an aim towards creation of an empire zone for Schoharie County. We look forward to a great economic turnaround with 58.48 million in capital investments and the creation of 388 new jobs. At last, we will be able to respond affirmatively when a company tours the former Guilford Mills property with empire zone status. We are truly grateful and excited that Schoharie County can now be fully engaged in New York’s economic engine."

Three additional counties will be named next year so that every county in the state will have an empire zone designation.