What’s in a name?

A timely change of name can make a difference. As “Tax-Free NY,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to create tax-free zones around the state’s colleges in an effort to exploit the synergy between academic institutions and entrepreneurial activity faced tough political sledding. Who wanted to give tax breaks so newly arrived or new-grown businesses could better compete with existing ones? But as “Start-Up NY” (a delightfully clumsy acronym for SUNY Tax-Free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate), the four men in the Albany room who trade off state legislation early every summer were willing after a few tweaks to support Cuomo’s efforts.

Since SUNY was itself an acronym, one impudent journalist suggested, the initiative would better be called “Tart Up.” The governor was asked at a press conference about the name change. “I think it was confusing to people,” he glibly explained. “I spent a lot of time [with] people saying to me, What does that mean, Tax-Free? That’s all it was.”


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