The Start Up New York program received different reviews Thursday, at opposite ends of downtown Buffalo. Some Erie County legislators doubt the program's effectiveness while opinions were more favorable along the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Start Up NY is an economic development program with no taxes tied to the state's network of higher education institutions, like UB or Canisius. The program is just over a year old and there aren't any startling jumps in jobs from the 37 companies admitted to UB's program.
Recent numbers showed the program has created just 76 jobs in 2014. That's out of roughly 2,100 promised in the first five years when the initiative was announced.
"The last thing we need to be doing is pushing money into a program that is not working," said Erie County Legislator Edward Rath.
"Part of the additional funding for this is going to be taking money out of the New York State Power Authority and pushing it back into Start Up. That's another classic example of New York City and Albany getting it wrong. What we should be doing is taking that money and pushing it into effective and efficient economic development."
Legislators want the program killed and any savings put into tax cuts.
In the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the opinion was far different, as UB ran an event for companies in the program to talk about how they are using the university's staff and faculty and building space to help grow their companies.
Karen Utz is director of program administration for the UB Office of Economic Development.
"First year's companies that have applied for the program, I think that it's in the neighborhood of 150 jobs for the first 12 months, once they enter the tax-free area. But, these companies are all encouraged to forecast conservatively and that we understand young companies start small and have the opportunities to grow well," Utz explained.
Companies presenting to the meeting are working on products from computer-connected safety glasses which warn workers of dangers to a genetic test for diseases like Ebola or MRSA far faster than current tests.