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LEGISLATURE AGREES ON EXPANSION OF DEVELOPMENT

The Allegany County Legislature agreed Friday to expand the existing economic development zone to areas in Alfred and Wellsville.

Zone expansion would also include new portions of the towns of Cuba and Friendship and the Village of Cuba.

The expansion must be ratified by the Empire Zone board and the Cuba and Friendship municipal boards. Those votes, said Legislator Susan Myers, R-Friendship, are scheduled for next week.

The locations of the parcels to be included in the zone have been identified only by latitude, longitude and dimension, said Myers, because some businesses intending to enter the zone have asked that their specific intentions not be made public.

The zone was created in 1994 under state legislation that provided tax and other incentives for business immigration and expansion. That zone, covering parts of Friendship and Cuba, has seen "$10.1 million in investments and more than 240 new jobs come into the area," said zone director Wendell Brown.

"In the next three years, we'll see more than 666 new jobs and several tens of millions of dollars" invested in the expanded zone, Brown said.

He said current state law, adopted last year, enhancing empire zones provides eight types of financial benefits for companies in the zones that qualify by expanding work force numbers or increasing capital investment.

One of those, he said, is a credit against its state business tax for the amount a company pays in real property tax.

This benefits the community by generating tax revenue, and the company by offsetting its other tax obligations, he said.

Real estate taxes under the original zone legislation were absent for a period of time, he said. And a business owner may still choose to seek a tax abatement -- but may not have both the abatement and the credit, said Brown.

Legislator James Graffrath, R-Andover, said he believes it will be necessary to add more land to the empire zone within a year.

"It should be expanded again, and I am looking forward to seeing results (of this expansion) within a year," he said.

Legislator John Walchli, R-Wellsville, said the expansion is exciting to him, but he cautioned, "We need to remember that economic development does not happen overnight."

The resolution to approve zone expansion passed without opposition Friday, with Legislator Curtis Corkey, R- Almond, absent.

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