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Dr. Mary Bassett resigns as New York state health commissioner

NY's "Empire Zone" Program To Be Replaced

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-859273.mp3

Albany, NY – After much talk of reforming New York's often-criticized Empire Zone program, leaders have decided to scrap it instead... Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

State agencies and business leaders will soon come together to develop an alternative to replace the soon-to-expire Empire Zone program, which provides tax breaks to businesses based on job creation and investment. Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency. ESD administers the Empire Zone program, which Governor Mario Cuomo created in 1986. This month ESD decided that it will lead the process to create a successor to the existing Empire Zone program when it sunsets at the end of June 2010. Ideally, the new initiative, which will have a new name but run by the same management team, will keep New York competitive while guaranteeing taxpayers the best return on their investment.

Governor David Paterson has questioned the overall effectiveness of the Empire Zone program. Saratoga County Empire Zone Specialist Shelby Schneider credits the program with helping to land the county's chip-fab plant. She recognizes the need to replace the Empire Zone program, noting that it strayed from its original course.

ESD plans call for the agency to lead an initiative to solicit written analysis and recommendations from State and local government partners, advocacy organizations, academic leaders and industry experts through a small number of focus groups over the next six weeks. Additionally, ESD will garner input directly from business managers throughout New York, and survey the practices in competitor states. When the groundwork is completed, ESD will present its recommendations to Governor David Paterson, who will make the final decision.