Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry and co-chairman of the Joint Budget Conference Committee on Economic Development, announced today that the State Senate and Assembly have reached a final agreement on budget language for a comprehensive jobs plan that will overhaul the state’s Empire Zones Program and allow each region of the state to build on its strengths to compete in the global economy.
"I’m pleased to report that our work on the economic development part of the 2005-06 state budget has resulted in a bipartisan plan to promote new technologies, provide funding to businesses that show job-creation potential, and enhance opportunities for expansion across all industries," said Assemblyman Schimminger. "A key component of the plan is our agreement to expand and reform the state’s Empire Zones Program – one of the most important economic development tools that our state and local economic development professionals have at their disposal."
Schimminger explained that the Empire Zones plan updates incentives to encourage companies that create good-paying jobs especially in distressed communities, offers better incentives for manufacturing and high technology firms, increases accountability in the program, authorizes the establishment of 12 new zones, and extends the program through 2015. "Our Empire Zones plan addresses the major criticisms of loopholes in the program, while ensuring that currently certified Empire Zone businesses will continue to receive the benefits for which they are eligible. More than 7,700 businesses employing 287,000 workers with a gross payroll of $9.8 billion are located in the state’s 72 existing Empire Zones," he said. "We also restore $2.3 million for local administration of Empire Zones that the Governor’s budget sought to eliminate."
"The other major focus of our jobs plan is the legislative agreement to form a New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation from the current N.Y.S. Office of Science Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR). The foundation, a public benefit corporation, will take over all NYSTAR programs and put in place a statewide economic development strategy that will utilize each region’s strengths," said Schimminger.
According to Schimminger, the foundation will be governed by a nonpartisan board of directors that will oversee programs and funding and scrutinize the state’s current initiatives to judge their effectiveness. "New investment programs will be created to help finance early-stage companies that show growth potential, businesses that are developing new products, and businesses that are pushing for faster job creation," Schimminger explained. "The board will also fund up to 10 regional development proposals so that local development organizations and their high-tech partners who know their area the best can help draft and implement a regional economic development strategy."
Schimminger noted that funding for the foundation’s new initiatives is being redirected from $6 million in operating funds and $90 million in capital funding sought by the Governor in his Executive Budget for his Operation SPUR (Strategic Partnership for Upstate Resurgence) proposal.
"This bipartisan jobs plan developed collaboratively by the Assembly and the Senate will improve the accountability of New York’s economic development programs and target incentives to regionally-identified needs. Our goal is to bring new businesses to the state and boost our own homegrown companies and entrepreneurs in order to encourage the creation of quality jobs that will improve our economy. I join with my Senate and Assembly colleagues on our budget conference committee who helped shape this agreement in urging the Governor to sign off on this initiative," Schimminger concluded.