Start-Up NY gets passing (barely) grade from Siena

Cuomo: Drink New York,

Start-Up NY won narrow support from voters in a Siena College poll released Tuesday, with 52 percent of respondents saying they favor the program, which gives tax breaks to companies willing to relocate to approved college campuses.

The majority of the support – 62 percent – came from Democrats, with the program resonating the strongest geographically with NYC and its suburbs. Only 45 percent of upstate residents said they supported the benefits.

Start-Up has been under scrutiny following a report from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that suggested the program has not lived up to expectations. Start-Up generated fewer than 100 new jobs in its first year, despite a $45 million advertising blitz. However, the ads have served to elevate New York’s reputation as a business-friendly state, according to data from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Indeed, 75 percent of the Siena respondents said they had heard of the program, with 17 percent saying they had heard “a great deal.”

Cuomo’s staff has argued that the program needs additional time to reach critical mass. Also, in downstate regions, the program is limited to companies involved in the tech fields, meaning candidates are most likely to be small startups with limited headcount and, as is the case with biotechnology firms, years away from taking a product to market.

The Siena data suggests the Start-Up program is most strongly supported by African Americans and Latinos aged 18 to 54 and with annual incomes under $100,000. More than half of Republicans polled said they oppose the program, versus only 28 percent for Democrats.