A Long Island City Business Gets Jamaica’s Tax Breaks

In an unusual arrangement, the City Council on Thursday voted to let a Long Island City business take advantage of tax breaks that usually go along with the Empire Zone in Jamaica.

The concept of these "regionally significant projects" is a little controversial, since Empire Zones are set up to benefit a particular neighborhood or region. (Before 2005 reforms, municipalities were selling the tax breaks to businesses outside zones.) To qualify, manufacturing companies have to pledge to add 50 people to their workforce, although they do not have to justify why they could not locate directly within the zone, according to Randal Coburn, director of Empire Zones program at the Empire State Development Corporation.

The Long Island City company, Bimmy’s, is a sandwich manufacturer that supplies airports both here and elsewhere. It had earlier received the support of the Bloomberg administration, City Councilors from Jamaica and Long Island City, and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, the agency that runs the Empire Zone.

Long Island City does not have an empire zone, which led Bimmy’s to look for one nearby. Carlilse Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, said that he agreed to take the sandwich maker in as part of the zone that the organization administers because it would bring jobs to the city.

“Most of what we do here is Jamaica,” Mr. Towery told The Observer. “We have our turf but this is a very good project. It creates 100 jobs over the next five years for Queens and we were requested to do it. We wouldn’t if this wasn’t meritorious.”