Committee endorses FMCC plan

JOHNSTOWN – A Fulton County Board of Supervisors committee recently endorsed Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s SUNY START-UP NY plan, which establishes tax-free zones for businesses.

The board’s Economic Development and Environment Committee supported the plan following a presentation by FMCC President Dustin Swanger at the County Office Building. The full board will vote on the plan March 10.

Swanger recently provided the FMCC Board of Trustees with a draft of the SUNY START-UP NY plan being reviewed now by all associated parties. After March, it is due to be sent to the State University of New York and then to Empire State Development for approval.

The plan includes three different sites: the proposed Tryon Technology Park and Incubator Center in Perth, Florida Park Extension in Amsterdam and the FM Foundation property located along Route 67 and Bendick Corners Road in the town of Amsterdam.

“START-UP New York is an initiative out of the governor’s office,” Swanger said. “It’s a pretty generous package.”

A tax-free area must be on a SUNY campus or be within one mile of the campus. Each campus can designate up to 200,000 square feet of land or building space on campus or within one mile. Tax-free areas can be designated further than one mile with Empire State Development approval. Businesses in those areas don’t pay any taxes – whether it’s business-corporate, sales or property taxes – for 10 years. Employees of such businesses will pay no income taxes in their wages for the first five years.

Swanger said he’s been working with Fulton County Center for Regional Growth President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese and Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz to establish some sites. For Fulton County, he said FMCC has targeted the proposed Tryon business park.

“It’s an interesting program,” Swanger said. “A lot of it is targeted to research universities.”

But Swanger said he’s already talked to three start-up companies interested in Fulton and Montgomery counties, including one interested in the Tryon site. He said there exists a myth that when incentives for companies go away, the companies themselves move out of an area. He said there’s no data to support that.

Businesses ineligible to be located in a tax-free area include: retail and wholesale businesses, restaurants, law firms, medical or dental practices, hospitality, finance and financial services, accounting firms, businesses providing utilities, real estate brokers and energy companies.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at