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IDA CEO supports SUNY tax-free zone

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LOUSIVILLE – The head of St. Lawrence County’s Industrial Development Agency says Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed tax-free zones around colleges could mean a major boom for the north country.

Last month, Mr. Cuomo proposed eliminating sales taxes and property, business and corporate taxes for up to 10 years for companies that set up shop on or near State University of New York campuses.

The proposal aims to keep new inventions and technology developed at New York colleges and universities from leaving the state and using those innovations to grow businesses and jobs.

Patrick J. Kelly, the IDA’s chief executive officer, said SUNY Potsdam and Canton provide the perfect “bases for economic development. “Anything that we have to offer that enhances our competitiveness is obviously of value,” he said.

But Mr. Kelly says it remains to be seen how flexible the plan is and what businesses could specifically be targeted.

“If it passes, our first question would be how we could use it,” Mr. Kelly said.

St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency Chairman Robert O. McNeil said he has not read the proposal, but would support any measure to help bring businesses to the area.

The River Agency, which was given $16 million for economic development in 2010, has been working with the IDA to bring businesses and economic growth to the area.

Mr. Kelly said the agency’s industrial parks in Canton and Potsdam would benefit from the tax-free proposal. The proposal would cover businesses located within 200,000 square feet of a SUNY campus.

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