Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Start-Up Ny' Is a Dud, Audit Concludes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'Start-Up Ny' Is a Dud, Audit Concludes

Article excerpt

New Jersey business leaders, who were skeptical that New York State's "Start-Up NY" ad campaign offered much of a threat in the border war between the two states for businesses and jobs, got some support Monday from an unlikely source: the New York State comptroller.

An audit by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli of a $211 million advertising contract that included the omnipresent television campaign, as well as a campaign promoting tourism in the state, concluded that the effort "yielded no tangible results."

The audit found that the state spent $45 million on the Start-Up NY campaign, which brought in 41 companies that are expected to create 1,750 jobs. That amounted to $25,000 in advertising spent for each job, the report said.

"In terms of validating the payback and benefit of advertising, specifically with the Start-Up program, we think that shows a very weak connection, not the kind of return one might have thought," DiNapoli told the Associated Press. Of the remaining money, $36.5 million was targeted to promote tourism and business in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and the rest went to Taste NY, a program to promote the state's agricultural economy, and other efforts.

The Start-Up program enables businesses that move into or expand in New York to get a 10-year exemption from property, sales and even state income taxes, if they locate in one of the state's special tax- free zones -- sites close to a public college -- and they "support" the school's mission.

The program was promoted with slick 30-second commercials that were ubiquitous on TV.

John Boyd, a founder of the Princeton-based Boyd Co., which helps companies relocate, said he was surprised that the campaign was so weak considering New York's reputation as a center of quality advertising.

"To me, the problem is that they focused on the wrong issues," he said. "It's all about no taxes. …

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