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Business lobby laments NYS legislature’s greatest misses in 2010

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New York State has been working to grow a new economy based on innovation, knowledge and technology. Creating new jobs and attracting new business in those areas seem to be a priority for lawmakers. As we recently reported, Sematech is moving its headquarters from Austin, Texas to Albany, N.Y. The state lured the microchip consortium with a $20 million incentive.

However, business groups like the Business Council of New York don’t believe state leaders are doing enough to make New York a friendlier place for the new economy.

Here are some examples of legislation lawmakers have yet to pass.

  • Mobile high-tech training facilities program– (S8016, A11477) The program would create an initiative within NYSTAR, the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation to award grants for the development of high-tech mobile training facilities. The idea is to bring those mobile facilities to areas of the state where people may not have reasonable access to workforce training programs.

Senator William Stachowski, (D-Buffalo), is one of the sponsors of the bill. He summarizes on the Senate website that these measures will help make it easier for high-quality small companies to grow and profit.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the state’s economy and the backbone of our communities, especially in Western New York. On average, they create two-thirds of new jobs, jobs that are desperately needed in today’s economy.”

Status: This bill currently sits in the Assembly’s Economic Development Committee. The senate already approved it.

  • Bioscience facilities development program– (S7228A, A05255A) The bill would have created a bioscience development revolving loan fund within the Empire State Development Corporation. The fund would have provided financial assistance, up to a 50 percent match, to bioscience firms for the construction of laboratory space. The goal was to keep those businesses operating in New York State.

Status: Governor David Paterson vetoed this bill on September 19, 2010. The legislation is pretty much dead unless a lawmaker decides to reintroduce it in the upcoming session and go through the legislative process all over again.

  •  New York incubator network– (S7048, A11616) The measure would create an umbrella structure within NYSTAR to bring continuity, stability, and standardization to incubators located throughout the state. It would also provide financial support to those incubators to help them bring their innovations to the marketplace easier.

Senator William Stachowski, (D-Buffalo) and Assemblyman Marc Alessi, (D-Long Island) are both sponsors of this bill.
The Business Incubator Association of New York State calls the bill an important step forward. The organization writes on its website that the bill would complement New York’s past investments in incubator facilities.

Status: This bill is currently in the Assembly’s Economic Development Committee. It passed the Senate this summer. With less than a week before the November elections, lawmakers aren’t exactly hanging around the Capitol so I couldn’t get a straight answer as to what’s next for this legislation.

  • Investment tax credit for new businesses– (S1229, A3707) The legislation would expand the availability of tax credit refunds for start-up technology companies. The goal is to help small businesses overcome the challenges they face while trying to commercialize scientific and technological discoveries. Currently a new business is defined as one that’s new to New York up to 5 years old. This legislation increases the window to 8 years for start-up technology companies.

Status: The bill, sponsored by Senator Antoine Thompson, (D-Buffalo), is currently held up in the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee after it passed the Senate. Several assembly members support the measure including Assemblyman David Koon, (D-Perinton).

Robert Lillpopp, a spokesperson at the Business Council of New York says the organization hasn’t yet taken a position on the investment tax credit bill. However he says it looks like legislation the Business Council would support.

“We want to make sure the money is being spent in the right place,” Lillpopp told the Innovation Trail. “It looks like this is useful and encourages research facilities to create private sector jobs. The trickle-down effect can be positive.”

One measure that pro-business groups supported this year did become law.

  • Green Jobs / Green NY– (S5888, A8901) This bill was signed by the governor in late 2009 after working its way through the state legislature. The new program is meant to promote energy efficiency and the installation of clean technologies. It provides the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with $112 million to perform energy audits and to improve the energy efficiency of residences, nonprofits, and small businesses.

NYSERDA officials say this legislation will support sustainable community development and create opportunities for green jobs. The program kicks off this fall.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.