Start-Up NY says no Niagara…yet

Cooper Lake (photo by Dion Ogust)

Cooper Lake (photo by Dion Ogust)

Among the 13 businesses just granted Start-Up NY status, two of them — a remanufacturer of mine tailings and a maker of trash-to-energy gear — will set up shop in the coming year in the Town of Ulster, including one at TechCity.

But still awaiting a final decision on eligibility for the lucrative college-linked tax breaks program is the controversial Niagara Bottling plant proposal.

According to a press release from governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, two companies promising to add 44 jobs made the Start-Up NY cut in Ulster County. One is Sustainable Waste Power Systems, Inc., described as “a new-to-New York business that provides products and services built around its patented waste-to-energy system marketed as GIPO — Garbage In Power Out.” According to the governor’s office, the company will commercialize its patented process by making and selling small-scale, on-site waste conversion systems. The company, which is expected to create 39 new jobs and invest about $517,000, is in the process of negotiating a lease for TechCity’s Building 22. The company’s website describes the benefits to brewers, wineries and distillers, stating all three can use the organic-material byproducts of the brewing and distilling process to heat their facilities, thus saving money on both energy and waste disposal. Last summer, the company did a demo of its equipment at Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner.


The smaller firm is Mid-Island Aggregates/Distribution LLC, described by the governor’s office as “a new-to-New York business that will remanufacture locally available mine tailings and turn them into useful construction products for landscaping, remediation, and construction projects.” The company will locate in the Callanan Industries plant in East Kingston and create five new jobs while investing $1.54 million.

The Start-Up NY program provides a decade of exemption from state corporate and sales taxes for the companies and state income taxes for its employees. SUNY Ulster was among the first colleges to take part in the program. According to a December 29 letter from college president Don Katt to those taking the college to task for its endorsement of the Niagara Bottling project for Start-Up NY, a total of three projects —  the two just approved and Niagara — were submitted by SUNY Ulster.

Katt said Tuesday he was “very excited” about the two businesses, saying they’d been working with the college since last April. “These two companies’ owners were extremely patient and cooperative,” said Katt. The college’s campus plan had to be amended last summer to reflect the exact location of the sites. SUNY Ulster’s planned satellite campus at the former Pier 1 Imports building on Ulster Avenue brings TechCity and other locations in the Town of Ulster within Start-Up NY’s radius. “[The owners] both contacted me yesterday and were absolutely delighted that they’d been accepted,”

Katt reported. Sustainable Waste Power Systems will begin its lease with TechCity in the next few weeks. Mid-Island is still working out details of their lease with Callanan.

“I think it’s terrific that we’ve played a small part in getting a business this far, and we look forward to them both growing and meeting their employment goals,” said Katt.

Niagara’s Start-Up NY status remains unknown. Empire State Development is still reviewing the application. “We’re still waiting for state review — we expect to hear sometime in January,” said Katt.


Not a decisionmaker

Katt has been criticized for his support of the Niagara project which, its critics contend, brings too many environmental negatives. A petition asking the college’s board of trustees to rescind approval for the Niagara project garnered almost 1700 signatures. Niagara foes have launched a letter-writing campaign to state officials in a bid to derail the California-based water bottler’s plans to build a plant at TechCity and to use water bought from the city of Kingston’s Cooper Lake reservoir in Woodstock.

In his letter, Katt said he and the college were simply following the Start-Up NY rules in their vetting of Niagara for the next step in the process. “Reviewing the process and the credentials that were considered in the case of Niagara Bottling, I cannot imagine an outcome other than that which we reached given the defined role that the college performs,” wrote Katt. “It is now up to other agencies with different clearly defined processes to analyze and make determinations about the viability and value of the project. Being an educator and one with a strong belief in informed decision-making based upon factual information, I look forward to the process unfolding. However, I am not a party to, nor a decisionmaker within those systems.”

In a post on its website and its Facebook page, the group, which has led the opposition to Niagara, stated it was “very pleased” Niagara didn’t show up on this week’s approved-projects list, but warned that it could well appear on a later one and asked for continued public scrutiny and participation.

There is one comment

  1. Kristy

    Say No to Niagara!!!!!
    Save beautiful Cooper Lake & protect associated waterways & wells.

    Protect the health of citizens & the environment by not allowing even more pollution with plastic bottles.

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