ALBANY — An unlikely coalition from New York’s political right and left has called for the suspension of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY economic development program following reports of modest initial success and significant marketing costs.
The group represents the broadest attack on Cuomo’s program so far and includes the state Conservative Party and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses from the right along with the left-leaning Working Families Party and Fiscal Policy Institute.
Created in 2013, Start-Up NY creates tax-free zones at colleges and universities to encourage businesses to start, expand or move to New York. This month the state reported that in 2014, its first full year of operation, Start-Up created 76 of the nearly 2,100 new jobs promised over the next five years.
While state officials have said the program is in its early stages, the coalition of critics seized on the report as evidence of its failures. And they have criticized the $53 million spent on advertising and marketing to promote it.
“Fifty-three million dollars for 76 jobs? That’s not economic development; that’s lunacy,” Bill Lipton, executive director of the Working Families Party said in a statement first released Wednesday to The Associated Press.
Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, meanwhile, said the program unfairly creates winners and losers. And Mike Durant, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said the state would be better off reducing taxes for all rather than just a few chosen companies.
“The Start-Up New York program is a perfect example of Albany’s propensity to throw sizable amounts of money in hopes of an economic solution,” Durant said. “The initial reports show limited job creation amid major taxpayer cost.”
Administration officials have cautioned that it’s too early to criticize the program. The analysis of the program’s first year, issued by the Department of Economic Development, found that companies participating in the program used only $56,560 in tax credits last year.
“The program is in its early stages,” Department Commissioner Howard Zemsky wrote in the report.