Location Focus: New York – The Empire State Leverages Its Strengths

By Business Facilities Editorial Staff
From the March/April 2014 issue

New York is one of the most dynamic and diverse state economies in the country. And with close to 300 public and private universities, New York also is an education powerhouse. Gov. Andrew Cuomo aimed to capitalize on these impressive resources when he launched START-UP NY last fall.

START-UP NY merges the public and private education system with a corporate incentive program making New York the least expensive place in the United States to do business. The program transforms State University of New York (SUNY) campuses, private colleges and universities, and university communities across the state into tax-free zones for new and expanding businesses. 
Business will be able to locate in these special university economic zones and operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years, with no income tax, business or corporate state and local taxes, no sales tax, no property tax, no franchise fees, and in many cases, no income tax for employees.

START-UP NY offers new and expanding companies planning to open operations in New York the opportunity to do business in a zero tax environment along with the value added advantage of leveraging the assets of their university neighbors. START-UP NY includes tax free zones and catchment areas in over 64 locations across the state, with available real estate that is virtually limitless.

With the real estate inventory, the tax incentives, and the support of New York’s public and private university system, which boasts one of the largest research and development capacities in the world, companies will be able to establish themselves in a market that has all of the elements of success. 
The financial benefits to companies working with the START-UP NY program are evident, but the value links to their SUNY and private university partners will be even more valuable to the long-term success of the companies.

Investing companies will be able to attract the skilled workforce they need for their operations and partner with the universities for research and other specialized skills and resources. Zero taxes for 10 years is a compelling offer for any growing company, and the integral role that universities play in the proposition makes the program a one-of-a-kind in the country and a catalyst for corporate growth in New York. [for more information about START-UP NY, see our interview with Director Leslie Whatley].

Companies that choose to locate in NY will find a first-class business and education environment:

  • CNBC placed NY 1st for Technology and Innovation in its “America’s Top State for Business” ranking
  • NY Ranked 3rd in Business Facilities “Best Education Climate”
  • NY Ranked 4th in Educational Attainment (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States, 2011)
  • NY Ranked 4th in High School Advanced Placement Intensity (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States, 2011)
  • NY ranked well above average, 5th in the nation for Math and Science Education (Science and Engineering Index, 2011)
  • NY Ranked 6th in Higher Education Degree Output (US Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States, 2011)


The Town of Islip has long been known as a leader of economic development in New York. Islip boasts the largest industrial corridor in the Long Island region, major infrastructure advantages over surrounding areas and an Industrial Development Agency (IDA) that has won renown for its continuous ability to attract new businesses. Though Islip faces many of the same challenges as other municipalities during these harsh economic times, the Town is uniquely suited for economic growth and expansion.

One of the prime reasons for Islip’s attractiveness to local, national and international businesses is the proximity these businesses have to Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA), which the Federal Aviation Administration has defined as being on-par with LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport. Having a nationally recognized airport within Islip Town helps local companies conduct their business more effectively and efficiently. Just as MacArthur Airport helps local businesses expand, the airport itself is working to grow its presence to handle the economic demands of the future.

Just next door to Long Island MacArthur Airport is Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #52. Foreign Trade Zone #52 was created to help businesses with an international scope grow and thrive in Islip. These companies can utilize the FTZ’s singular economic status to avoid costs associated with importing and exporting goods with other countries. The FTZ sits at the intersection of a crucial transportation hub that features railways, highways and a commercial airport and is no stranger to new development. In 2013, AA Technology Inc., a growing manufacturer and distributor of circuit boards and electrical components, decided to expand in the FTZ and construct its own 36,000-square-foot facility. Because of their strategic location and investment, AA Technology Inc. will enjoy incentives offered by both the FTZ and the Islip Industrial Development Agency.

The Town of Islip has a proud tradition of business success, across a variety of industries. But special mention must be made toward three critical industries that have thrived within the town: technology, food distribution and pharmaceuticals. Many technology companies, spanning sectors from aerospace to telecommunications, have found a home in Islip. CMG Wireless, a company that produces goods for the telecommunications market, rapidly has expanded their operations to cope with the increase in demand for wireless technology. They have remained in Islip largely because the IDA was able to help them adapt and expand their facilities to ensure that business was uninterrupted. CPI Aero, a company that manufactures aircraft components, primarily for the U.S. military, was able to expand their operations to a new facility, and did so with the help of the Islip IDA. Similar to CPI Aero, Sartorius Stedim North America also expanded their operations into a new facility, occupying an additional 40,000 square feet. Sartorius is a leading provider of cutting-edge equipment and services for the biopharmaceutical industry and is investing over $2 million in the build-out and purchase of equipment for a new R&D lab. And most recently, B/E Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of high performance lighting systems for both commercial and business jet aircraft, expanded into a 60,000-square-foot facility in Bohemia. In addition to a $1 million investment in equipment, B/E Aerospace also pledges to create 30 jobs within two years.

Additionally, Islip welcomed Ascent Pharmaceuticals in 2012, a pharmaceutical manufacturer whose operations involve research, development and the manufacture, warehousing and distribution of generic prescription medicines in a wide range of therapeutic areas. With the assistance of the Islip IDA, the company, owned by InvaGen Pharmaceuticals, purchased and renovated an existing 250,000 square foot facility for $20 million and they expect to invest another $19 million in additional equipment and research. In return for financial assistance, Ascent has pledged to hire 100 new employees immediately, another 150 in the following three years and projects to employ a total of 350 when fully operational within five years. The story of Ascent Pharmaceuticals is another excellent example of how a company can grow and thrive in Islip, a community that understands the dedication and commitment necessary for projects like this to come to fruition.

Most notably, the world’s largest food distributor, Sysco Inc., constructed a 420,000-square-foot facility in Central Islip. Throughout the entire construction process, from planning, to building, to staffing, Sysco and the Town of Islip worked together to address the needs of both the company and the community. The facility has been fully operational since the summer of 2012, and the demands of the facility have already created over 250 jobs with more to come. Throughout the entire recruitment process, SYSCO has placed a special focus on hiring from within the community. The distribution center boasts many unique features, including a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel station to power all of the forklifts in the facility. This project has been a model for how local governments, civic groups and businesses can work together and be proud of the finished product, which will keep all parties satisfied for years to come.

Through all of these developments, the Islip IDA has continuously demonstrated its ability to work with businesses to build partnerships between government, businesses and residents. As a result of its many accomplishments, the Islip IDA was named the 2011 Suffolk County IDA of the Year by the editorial staff of the Long Island Business News. Islip Town always will be committed to exploring new ways to bring jobs and opportunities to Islip, without losing their identity as a community.

For information on how your business can grow in Islip, please visit www.islipida.com.


Centrally located in New York State, the Syracuse and Onondaga County area is located in the beautiful glacier-carved Finger Lakes wine region, just south of Lake Ontario and two hours from the Canadian border. It sits at the crossroads of two major interstates, providing easy access to all East Coast markets, including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto and Montreal.

Among the area’s most recent success stories is Agrana Fruits US, Inc., which located its newest facility in Radisson Business Park in the Town of Lysander. Agrana Fruits’ $38 million, 100,000-square-foot plant manufactures fruit preparations for the yogurt industry. The project is expected to create 66 direct jobs in the near-term and a total of 120 direct jobs within five years. It is also anticipated to create an additional 250 indirect jobs in the community.

The yogurt industry is booming in New York State, thanks to skyrocketing sales in Greek yogurt. Chobani, FAGE, Alpina Foods and Pepsico-Theo Muller all have newer yogurt manufacturing plants within 125 miles of Syracuse. The plant owned by Chobani—the top Greek yogurt brand in the United States—is less than 65 miles away.

High demand for Greek yogurt has, in turn, driven high demand for milk, which also is increasing production in New York State. In early 2014, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed that New York had reclaimed the No. 3 dairy producer spot in the U.S., following California and Wisconsin.

While the yogurt industry is growing, other industries also are looking to expand in the Syracuse and Onondaga County area. The region continually promotes its pro-business strategy and markets its most significant asset, White Pine Commerce Park, which is nearing shovel-ready status and is actively seeking 100,000-square-foot to 1 million square foot development projects.

White Pine is the largest publicly controlled business park in the Syracuse region. The 339-acre site is easily accessible by rail and is two miles from a major interstate. The site boasts ample fresh water resources and is less than 35 miles from a deep-water port that serves as a gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway and Port of Montreal.

Connectivity is not an issue at White Pine—a National Grid-owned substation adjacent to the site can support multiple 115kV circuits, and telecom offerings include OC3 fiber and broadband service.

Up to 8 MGD is available on-site at White Pine for data center cooling and precision manufacturing. It is a stable, low risk environment with a traditional four-season climate, reducing the chance of a natural disaster disrupting business.

The region boasts a well-educated, skilled workforce. More than 77,000 high school graduates over the age of 25 live within 10 miles of White Pine, and one-third of the available workforce holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Six nationally ranked colleges and universities offer local worker training and certification programs, as well as proven research and development, and product commercialization assistance.

Partnerships among colleges, universities and industries are gaining momentum in New York State. Using the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s partnerships with top semiconductor companies as a model, the state recently announced its aggressive START-UP NY initiative (see introduction of this section).

White Pine is expected to achieve shovel-ready status in late 2014.

For detailed information on local and state incentives, as well as the region’s pro-growth attitude and pro-business strategy, contact Linda McShane, Project Development Specialist, at 315-435-3770 or lmcshane@ongov.net.


Drum Country, NY—Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties—is located in North Central New York State about 70 miles north of Syracuse. Drum Country is bordered on the west and north by Ontario and to the east by the Adirondack Mountains. It is home to the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.

Drum Country is a strategic location for any business looking to reach the northeast U.S. and Canadian markets. Its many assets make it a perfect location in the northeast for a business to start and grow.

  • Proximity to Canada with bridge crossings at Alexandria Bay, Ogdensburg, and Massena that join with (Canadian) Highway 401. Drum Country is within a three hour drive of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
  • Foreign Trade Zones provide businesses with relief from Customs duties and excise taxes on foreign goods coming into the zone.
  • Close connections with international reach: including rail, port, highway and air.
  • A skilled workforce drawing from six universities and colleges; skilled tradespeople; and Army personnel, spouses and retirees.
  • Competitive hourly wages for operations, financial, sales and production occupations as compared to the MSAs for New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA and Boston, MA.
  • A publicly owned, carrier class open access telecommunications network unsurpassed for a rural region giving businesses access to information throughout the world.
  • Low cost power available through NYPA’s Preservation Power Program and the St. Lawrence County Economic Development Power Program.
New York Air Brake recently expanded total employment to 466 and made significant capital investment in new machining centers, testing equipment and other improvements at its Watertown facility. (Photo: Development Authority of the North Country.)
New York Air Brake recently expanded total employment to 466 and made significant capital investment in new machining centers, testing equipment and other improvements at its Watertown facility. (Photo: Development Authority of the North Country.)

Manufacturers are growing in Drum Country. New York Air Brake—member of the Munich-based Knorr-Bremse Group and a global leader in train control systems—recently expanded total employment to 466, coupled with significant capital investment in new machining centers, testing equipment and other improvements to its Watertown facility. North American Tapes, a producer of hockey and athletic tape, recently doubled the size of its facility in Jefferson County. Ansen Corporation, a contract manufacturer, continues to add jobs at its facility in the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority’s Commerce Park, St. Lawrence County.

Drum Country is home to growing food processors like Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc., (St. Lawrence County), Kraft Foods’s cream cheese facility (Lewis County) and Great Lakes Cheese (Jefferson County). The region also is booming with craft wineries, distilleries and breweries.

The region’s natural resources have played a significant part in the growth of renewable energy businesses. In spring 2012, ReEnergy purchased the idled Black River co-generation plant on Fort Drum. ReEnergy invested over $35 million in order to convert the plant from coal burning to a 60 MW biomass facility. ReEnergy was recently awarded a Notice of Intent by the U.S. Army to award the facility a 20-year contract to purchase power from ReEnergy to service Fort Drum. The contract still needs final Army approval, but it is expected to create over 30 new jobs at the plant and more than 140 new jobs locally in ReEnergy’s biomass supply chain.

Curran Renewable Energy is growing in St. Lawrence County. Curran produces over 100,000 tons of high quality wood pellets, and with its sister company, Seaway Timber Harvesting, employs over 100 people in Massena. As Curran Renewable Energy notes, “The proximity of the feedstock to the wood pellet processing factory and the quantity and quality of feedstock available… are considered to be significant economic advantages enabling Curran Renewable Energy to produce high quality wood pellets delivered to the market in a timely manner at a competitive price.”

The region continues to see growth associated with its workforce and its carrier-class telecommunications infrastructure. Back office and call center operations are expanding. One such example of growth is Convergys Corp., which recently acquired Stream Global Services, in Watertown. Currently employing 700 people, Convergys Corp. has announced plans to add up to 300 new employees on the heels of a $4.2 million expansion to the Watertown call center. The proximity of the U.S. Army base at Fort Drum provides a diverse labor pool for the facility.