Schenectady County Community College has received approval from the state to lure businesses to sites in downtown Schenectady under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s business tax incentive program START-UP NY.
SCCC is pitching several sites as tax-free zones for businesses. Two sites received approval Thursday, including 6,311 square feet in the Kindl Building at 201 State St. and 6,058 square feet at NYBizLab at 251 State St.
“We are working on some deals that are in progress already in anticipation of the project getting approved,” said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. “This will be a major step forward to help revitalize lower State Street, and we are targeting properties down there that can be good to host growing technology companies.”
Gillen said he is also looking to have two other locations approved under START-UP NY, including the former AAA building, adjacent to SCCC’s student housing, and the former YMCA building at 13 State St.
“We are talking to a number of potential clients right now, and we’re showing some clients spaces downtown next week,” Gillen said. “We are just getting started.”
Matt Grattan, executive director of workforce development at SCCC, said the college has had in-person discussions with four companies about locating to Schenectady under the tax-free program. Grattan anticipates those companies will submit their business applications to move in “any day now.”
Once the college receives those applications, SCCC reviews them and sends them on to Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, for final approval.
“The four companies we have spoken with are all in-state companies,” Grattan said. “Three of the four are more of a start-up, while one is a mature company on the cusp of major expansion.”
START-UP NY was signed into law by Cuomo in an effort to bring more companies to the state and create job opportunities for college graduates. The program allows new, expanding and out-of-state companies to locate on or near college campuses and pay no local or state taxes for 10 years.
SCCC is looking to attract start-up and expanding companies focused on education technology, logistics, software development and applications, Grattan said. Those areas are aligned with the college’s programs in nanoscale materials technology, storage battery technology, public safety, supply chain management, computer networking systems and cybersecurity.
“This program creates an opportunity for us to have regular dialogue with the business community, whether we sponsor these companies and they participate in the program or not,” Grattan said. “This will ensure that our programming is up to date, especially with the types of companies we are looking at that are tech-focused and tech-savvy.”
NYBizLab is undergoing renovations that will be completed by next month, but some of the space is available right now for companies to move in, said Rick D’Errico, managing director of the company.
“We are actively speaking with companies now that are tech companies looking to relocate to a downtown setting,” he said. “The focus is on education technology, as well as logistics. Those are our strengths.”
D’Errico said not all of the companies that locate at NYBizLab would do so under START-UP NY. He said some don’t want to go through the application process and will stay on the tax rolls.
Of the 17,000 square feet available in the building, more than 6,000 is dedicated for START-UP NY, but D’Errico said that could change if demand from companies to participate in the program is high.
SCCC’s Workforce Development Division plans to offer non-credit professional development training to businesses that locate near the campus under the program, to provide them with additional resources. Grattan said the goal is to ensure the start-up companies that locate in downtown Schenectady will thrive and hire SCCC graduates and local residents.
“We will work with the businesses on their training needs for employees,” he said. “We will seek to ensure that these start-up companies will be successful and not fail. We want to be able to increase the potential of business start-up success.”
The University at Albany and the neighboring College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering were also approved under the program in March and April, respectively. No companies have announced moves to those campuses since plans were approved by the state.
Cuomo announced Wednesday the first 12 companies partnering with Cornell University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo and SUNY Downstate Medical Center as part of START-UP NY. The businesses are expected to create nearly 400 jobs and invest $50 million in those areas.