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The Upstate Economy

Old prisons could become homes for business startups

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The Butler Correctional Facility in Wayne County. The facility is slated for closure under the Cuomo Administration.

Some abandoned prisons in the upstate area could become home to start-up companies under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Start-Up New York initiative.

The initiative aims to provide major incentives for companies to relocate, develop, or significantly expand in New York by offering state and local tax-free zones on university and college campuses.

But Ken Adams, president and CEO of Empire State Development, says these tax-free zones won’t be restricted to academic campuses. He adds in a range of other shuttered state facilities as well.

Adams didn’t list specifics, by says bringing companies into vacant prisons, armories and psychiatric hospitals across the state will revitalize surrounding communities.

“What we want to have ideally happen here is a university working with start-up companies, with new businesses, would see that space as kind of a campus, as something it could develop and bring life and investment and jobs back into those communities that have lost that since the closure of the facility,” Adams said.

Some rural upstate communities centered around state prisons have been hit hard by recent closures. Adams says the program has the potential to spur economic and job growth in these areas.

Two more North Country prisons are slated for closure next year: Chateaugay and Mt. McGregor. But Adams said the Start-Up New York program will only include facilities that have already closed.