Essex County Empire Zone faces uncertain future

"I've talked to other zone coordinators who say they will have none," she added.

"This really puts an awful situation on us," said Jay supervisor Randy Douglas. "We're paying the price for some fraudulent activity in the program outside of Essex County."

Calabrese pointed out how the state contract for Essex County's Empire Zone program, which was to be renewed in June 2008, had not yet been received, leaving the program with a deficit of roughly $27,000. Still, said Brassard, the program is required to continue without assurance of state funding.

Meanwhile, Brassard is coordinating an effort with Empire Zone businesses to voice their opposition of governor's proposal.

According to Brassard, even the governor may be reconsidering his proposal after receiving overwhelming opposition to it while recently visiting Jefferson County.

"He's figuring out that the 20-to-one ratio is not going to work," said Brassard, adding that she will be urging both the governor and state legislators to find a way to modify the Empire Zone program to make it more useful for small businesses in rural areas.

"It is unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game, especially if you (NYS) made the rules in the first place," she said.

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