Many of you are aware that I support the Empire Zones, a successful program that has revitalized our economy and made our state more business-friendly. The zones are geographically defined areas where businesses are encouraged to locate in order to take advantage of tax incentives and benefits such as existing industrial and commercial infrastructure and ready-to-use resources such as power and water supplies.
Under our "Roadmap to Renewal" plan, I am supporting the expansion of a new initiative that would include a creation of a new statewide "Super zone" to give New York a competitive edge in attracting jobs headed to other states and a plan to target smaller "Main Street" - type businesses to revitalize communities and help small business grow.
The proposed 'Super zone' would provide flexibility to use Empire Zone tax breaks and incentives for the creation of new jobs anywhere in the state, giving planners and economic development officials an edge in attracting major job-producers where they are most needed.
Additionally, a new "EZ Main Street" initiative would require Empire Zone planners to include faded strips within the boundaries of new Empire Zones, offering funding for storefront facade rehabilitation and providing logistic and other support through the creation of a NY Main Street Center division of Empire State Development that targets small business needs.
As a former small business owner, I feel that small business is the backbone of New York's economy. From innovation to experimentation, from economic growth to job creation, small businesses on "Main Streets" are a powerhouse of job creation that make an enormous contribution to our state's economy. The Empire Zone program is our best tool for attracting and retaining these businesses across our state.
Our plan also calls for allowing communities to lower their sales tax rate by 1 percentage point, and matching that reduction with a one-point drop in the state sales tax, within designated "EZ Main Street" Zones. Other initiatives include the preservation of rural Empire Zones, annual reporting of unused EZ acreage, Agricultural Empire Zones, and sunset reform.
In this new year, we must be committed to the survival, the revival and the resurgence of New York businesses. I am convinced that these initiatives will further strengthen a program that works and promises to supercharge New York's economic growth for years to come.