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Start-Up NY officially under way at SUNY Potsdam

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POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam’s Start-Up NY program has been formally approved by the state, but its director said the college will take its time before accepting business candidates.

The program will house new businesses in four locations: three on campus and one at Potsdam Commerce Park less than a mile away. Businesses housed at these locations will be able to operate tax-free for 10 years. Employees will not have to pay income tax, and the businesses themselves will be exempt from property, sales and business taxes.

The program lasts 10 years. SUNY Potsdam likely will welcome its first businesses before the year is out, but Director of Strategic Alliances John M. Wicke said the college will not be rushing into accepting applications.

“We’re optimistic that in 2014 we will partner with some firms. It’s hard to say how soon in 2014, but we’ve had a great amount of interest,” he said.

The college can accept any applications it chooses, although the state’s Empire State Development Corp. has a 60-day window to reject any decision before it is finalized.

SUNY Potsdam’s program was officially approved March 28.

“We can act on a business, and accept them into our campus. We are currently talking to several prospects,” Mr. Wicke said.

To be eligible, a business must create new jobs, provide learning and internship opportunities for SUNY Potsdam students and not compete directly with existing local businesses.

The college already is considering adding several locations to its program, including Massena Industrial Park and Clarkson University’s Peyton Hall business incubator.

This would require adding these properties to the college’s Start-Up NY plan to be approved by the state.

State regulations mandate Start-Up NY locations must be within a mile of the host college, but this rule can be waived in some cases. It is possible SUNY Potsdam’s application to include Massena Industrial Park could be approved if the need is shown to be great enough.

Mr. Wicke said he does not yet know when SUNY Potsdam will try to include these properties. For now the school will focus on its existing locations.

“It all depends on the activity that we have,” he said.

SUNY Canton is preparing to launch its own Start-Up NY program, which has not yet received official approval from the state.

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