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Free trade zones proposed locally

QUEENSBURY In the near future, upcounty businesses may have opportunities to trade goods internationally with tariffs, duties and customs costs slashed, economic development officials said this week. Officials of the Economic Development Corp. of Warren County are now working to establish a county-wide foreign trade zone designation which would accommodate dozens of sites scattered around the county, EDC executives said. The agencys plans call for about half of the designated site acreage to be located in Queensbury and Glens Falls, and the remaining half in upcounty towns like Warrensburg, Lake George, Chestertown, North Creek and Horicon, said EDC Development Specialist John Wheatley. Whatever we can do to make Warren County businesses more competitive in the global economy, wed like to do it, he said. The agencys initiative would be a first-ever for the region. EDC Vice President Peter Wohl told Warren County supervisors last week that foreign trade zones would not only cut costs for existing businesses, but it would attract new enterprises, particularly from Canada. He said zone designation was one of the top five criteria businesses cited as influencing their relocation decisions.. Wohl said theyd be working with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission and other area agencies to prepare and submit an application to the Foreign Trade Zone Board, an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The county supervisors attending an economic development meeting endorsed the agencys initiatives, which include applying for foreign trade zones on specific county-owned sites primarily located around the Floyd Bennett Airport in Queensbury. Much of the Foreign Trade Zone acreage in the southern portion of the county would be located in and around the Queensbury Industrial Park and the industrial corridor along Queensbury Avenue adjacent to the airport, Wheatley said. The county-wide designation would likely allow shifting of specific zones to accommodate various businesses needs, Wohl and Wheatley said. Wheatley estimated that Foreign Trade Zone status could be approved for the county as soon as December or early in 2009. The Foreign Trade Zones would allow manufacturers and warehousing operations handling imported or exported parts or goods to avoid, reduce, or defer tariffs and duties, Wohl said. Washington County is now pursuing a similar designations, Wheatley said. Wohl said that Foreign Trade zones have already proven advantageous for businesses in the Albany area. Everyone can benefit from this, he said. Its been very successful so far. Matt Sokol, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Economic Development Committee, said the EDCs initiative was a welcome new idea. This is perfect timing, because were trying to stimulate economic growth, he said. It looks like it will offer great potential for a wide range of businesses.

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