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Sanctions threaten Essex County businesses

MORIAH New York State is threatening sanctions against 29 Essex County businesses for failing to generate economic growth through the Empire Zone program.

At this point businesses are required to do nothing, said Barb Brassard, Essex County Empire Zone coordinator. But they have been notified.

New York Empire Zone officials announced July 18 they will move to recover state funds and tax breaks given to hundreds of companies that failed to deliver the jobs they promised under the program.

Were going to be aggressively asserting our rights under the Empire Zone program and other programs that we administer, Patrick J. Foye, co-chairman of the Empire State Development Corp., said. We think its the responsible thing to do in terms of our accountability to the governor and the Legislature and the taxpayers.

Essex County has 86 zone-certified businesses 29 failed to meet program-required projections for job creation or investment, Brassard said.

Statewide more than 3,000 businesses failed to meet even 60 percent of their promises to create jobs, according to the Empire State Development Corp.

The $500 million-a-year Empire Zone program provides tax breaks for companies that promise to create or retain jobs. But it has been criticized for years as being ineffective.

The town of Moriah was certified as an Empire Development Zone June 22, 1988. Since that time the programs regulations and standards have changed several times including 2000 when the program changed to allow entire counties to take part.

All the changes have made it difficult for some businesses to meet program requirements, Brassard said.

Its a very complicated, confusing program, she said.

Businesses certified in the program before 2000 never received enhanced benefits sales tax exemptions, state income tax credits and real property tax credits but are being lumped with all others, Brassard pointed out.

I have a problem with the way the state is doing this and how they identified these businesses, Brassard said. Ive sent my concerns to Albany.

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