Empire State Development Programs for Economic Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is the lead economic development entity for New York State. Through various financial and technical assistance programs, Empire State serves both large and small businesses.


  • The Entrepreneurial Assistance Program provides technical assistance to new business owners.
  • The Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Certification Program provides access to contracting opportunities with government entities for qualified businesses.
  • The federal Empowerment Zone Program and the Economic Development Zone Program provide financial, tax and other incentives for businesses in or benefiting the targeted areas.
  • Business ombudsman services help small businesses resolve red-tape difficulties in their dealings with all levels of government.
  • The linked deposit program provides small businesses with bank loans at reduced interest rates.
  • New York State also provides a full range of technical assistance to foreign investors.

The Entrepreneurial Assistance Program encourages minorities, women, dislocated workers, public assistance recipients, public housing residents and young people to start new businesses. Centers throughout the state promote entrepreneurship by providing classroom training, counseling, technical assistance and mentoring. The Program enhances the entrepreneurial, management and administrative skills of new business owners (especially those with less than five years' experience) and those planning to start a business. Training and technical assistance are provided directly by non-profit organizations and vocational education institutions. Although these organizations may admit anyone who can benefit, they have specific numerical goals to meet for delivering services to minorities, women, dislocated workers and disabled persons. Primary assistance takes the form of skills enhancement. Classroom instructions and intensive individual counseling are provided to each client, with assistance in developing a professional business plan. Program participants may benefit with access to financing for their businesses since most centers are linked to organizations that administer micro-loan funds, and all centers have relationships with other funding sources,

Economic Development Zones (1-2 square miles each) have been designated in 40 distressed communities around New York State. Each Zone has tax credits available to businesses for the ten-year duration of the zone designation. Zone Equivalent Areas are defined as locations with high poverty and high unemployment. Businesses locating in these areas may be eligible to receive substantial financial incentives for investment and/or job creation. Qualified New York State businesses or taxpayers operating in a Zone or Zone Equivalent Area who are subject to franchise and personal income tax are eligible for benefits. Zone certification is required for some credits. Small businesses often find it difficult to navigate government bureaucracy. Business ombudsman services are provided to streamline the interactions between companies and various levels of government. This service helps small businesses resolve red-tape difficulties in their dealings with all levels of government. Through a business hotline, the program directs companies to the appropriate economic development assistance sources. The service also represents the interest of small businesses before administrative and regulatory agencies. Any small business in New York State is eligible for assistance through this service.

Small businesses in general are facing rising interest rates and bank credit shortages that hinder their ability to modernize operations, access new markets, develop new products and improve their competitiveness. The linked deposit program encourages and assists eligible businesses within the state in making investments and undertaking projects that will improve their performance and competitiveness. The program provides businesses with bank loans at reduced interest rates that are subsidized by "linked" state deposits. Lenders are compensated with state fund deposits.

New York State is a major power in the global marketplace and a leader for foreign investment in the United States. New York is home to more than 3,000 foreign owned operations in almost every field including finance and banking, retail, services, transportation and manufacturing. Foreign firms are located throughout New York State with the highest concentration found in and around New York City. Additionally, New York State is the third largest exporter of goods and services in the U.S. Foreign direct investment assistance helps foreign investors establish a New York operation through: direct investment in manufacturing, distribution, services, headquarters or sales operations and joint ventures or strategic alliances.

New York State also provides a full range of technical assistance to foreign investors to analyze and select a site and implement their project. Technical assistance includes: identification of potential sites and buildings, demographic, wage, tax and utility cost data, access to New York's incentive programs, including financing, tax incentives and job training programs, information about the communities under evaluation, introductions to local government officials and private business people and project coordination and facilitation through a network of offices.

For more information about Empire State programs, contact Empire State Development Corporation, 633 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10017, Phone: (800) STATE-NY (800.782.8369), Fax: (212) 803-3735, Email: esd@empire.state.ny.us.

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