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Portions of Niagara University campus approved as tax-free zones

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Wed, Mar 4th 2015 12:15 pm
DePaul Hall on the Niagara University campus.
DePaul Hall on the Niagara University campus.

Niagara University has received unanimous approval to have 24,409 square-feet of its campus designated as a Start-Up NY tax-free zone.

The university will now seek to attract eligible businesses that support its academic mission and whose priorities align with the strategic investment areas determined by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

NU will consider companies in the hospitality and tourism, health and life sciences and advanced manufacturing industries.

Prospective businesses will be identified through NU alumni and faculty contacts, in addition to assistance provided by Empire State Development and the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

The initiative is viewed on campus as another way for Niagara to solidify its position as a key driver in the continuing economic development of the region. The university's economic impact on the local region is estimated to exceed $227 million annually.

"Attracting start-up ventures provides an important opportunity to further strengthen the economic vitality of Niagara County by attracting new businesses and corresponding jobs to the region," Niagara University President the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., said. "As an institution, we have gone to great efforts to align our objectives with those that benefit our students and have been identified as integral to Western New York fulfilling its enormous potential."

Endorsed by the Start-Up NY approval board Friday, one of the designated spaces at NU is DePaul Hall, the 9,409-square-foot facility that housed the university's science programs until they moved into the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences in fall 2013.

Also slated for development is a 15,000-square-foot parcel of vacant land near the university's primary entrance (via Witmer Road). The land offers direct access to the I-190 thoroughfare and is less than five miles from the Canadian border crossing at the Lewiston-Queenston international bridge.

Earlier this year, Assemblyman John Ceretto sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in support of Niagara University becoming a partner in the Start-Up NY program.

"As an alumnus of Niagara University, I have seen firsthand the positive impact the school has on the community and the local economy. Now, I look forward to the potential of seeing several new businesses flourish as a result of this program, which is another step in helping our region unlock its full economic potential," Ceretto said.

State Sen. Rob Ortt said the announcement "is tremendous news for Niagara University and our regional economy. I was honored to support their application for funding based on their history as an economic, social and academic leader in our community - supplemented by a strong growth plan for the future. I am convinced that their renowned programs in hospitality and tourism, health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing technology will build upon their established partnerships to expand their positive impact on our economy."

Last month, Ortt sent a letter of support to ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. He wrote, in part, "Supplementing the traditional moral and academic character that NU provides the community is the vital role it plays in the local economy. NU is a leading employer in Niagara County and has prioritized the development of partnerships with other employers across all sectors of the economy. The Center for Governmental Research estimated NU's annual economic impact at $207 million. NU has proven itself a leader throughout the difficult economic times we have witnessed, particularly in our region."

Businesses operating in Start-Up NY-designated areas are free from state taxes for up to 10 years and, in the case with NU, also enjoy access to the resources of higher education, such as faculty expertise and advanced research laboratories.

Additional benefits for Niagara University include bolstering relationships with industry partners through experiential learning and workforce opportunities for students and graduates, as well as via research initiatives with faculty.

The Start-Up NY program took effect in January 2014.

To learn more about Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.

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