Tax-Free NY Encourages Partnerships Between SUNYs, Business

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced Tax-Free NY, a new plan that would provide tax advantages to private businesses that partner with institutions of higher learning, Robert Jones writes in Albany's Times Union. According to Jones, the scheme could allow the public university system in the state not only to be an educational beacon but also a tool of economic renaissance.

Cuomo's proposal is straightforward. The state will exempt from taxes all enterprises housed on the 200,000 square feet surrounding each SUNY campus – but only if they create new jobs. The idea is that the private sector will provide the business know-how and capital while the universities will provide research, intellectual property and scientific and technological expertise to foster a mutual partnership.

I serve as co-chair of the Capital Region Economic Development Council, an entity that is working with community, business, academic and government leaders to help enhance the region's economic vitality. A predominant theme echoed across our Regional Council is the need to promote partnerships. Tax-Free NY will enable key public-private partnership opportunities on our university and college campuses. In addition to advancing new learning, research and discovery, these collaborations will create jobs for New York's ready and eager college graduates, helping to keep our best and brightest in the Empire State.

With Tax-Free NY, the University at Albany is poised and ready to create new success stories, just like we did with our global-leading College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

There are already indications that a private-public partnership can deliver on the promise of financial success and innovation. The RNA Institute – which, according to Jones is the state's resource for all RNA development and research despite having opened its doors only three years ago – has just last week announced that it is expanding its laboratories and has attracted more than $30 million in funding.

With the global RNA Interference (RNAi) market alone expected to grow into a $4 billion industry by 2017, the RNA Institute is well positioned under the governor's Tax-Free NY initiative to serve as a magnet for new private sector investment for research, innovation, commercialization and job creation.

Without incentives like Tax-Free NY, the state is at risk of losing future private sector investment for research initiatives like the RNA Institute to other states and countries around the world.

Jones, who is the president of the University of Albany, concludes that programs like Tax-Free NY could be the key to the state's future economic prosperity and increased educational attainment.

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