Zerega businesses become Empire Zone certified

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While some deride the Empire Zone program, which provides tax credits to businesses in Zerega and across the state, as an initiative that makes the rich get richer, two local businesses that recently added employees because of the program’s existence say it benefits everyone, no matter what their role is in the economy.

Lifeline Ambulance at 1439 Ferris Place and Metalworks at 1303 Herschell Street are just two of the businesses in the Hunts Point/Zerega Empire Zone that are now benefiting from tax credits for creating jobs and investment under the state program.

Both businesses were recently Empire Zone certified, which will save both companys hundreds of thousands of dollars over the coming years.

“What critics of the program do not realize is that for every dollar a business in the Empire Zone saves through tax credits they need to spend $20 in investment either in employees or plant improvements or constructi­on,” said Robert Bieder, Zerega Industrial Business Zone coordinator for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. BOEDC works with the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the Empire Zone in Zerega.

At Lifeline Ambulance, which moved to the Westchester Square area a year ago from Pelham Bay so they could be in the zone and take part in the program, the company is experiencing unprecedented growth in number of employees.

“We take pride in our employment of Bronx residents,” said Chris Rapisarda, manager of the company. “Our goal under the Empire Zone program was to create five new jobs this year, and instead we have created 12.”

Rapisarda said that the overall plan for the company under the program is to create new jobs in all of the next three to five years.

One of the benefits of the Empire Zone program, a tax credit on the 4% state sales tax, has allowed the small business to save greatly on gasoline, one of the primary operating expenses for an ambulance company.

Rapisarda said that with fuel prices soaring in the last few years, this has really helped the company keep its commitment to creating new jobs for the residents of the Bronx.

At Metalworks, the enhancements made under the Empire Zone program will likely include an addition to their current manufacturing plant, which makes high-end furniture and custom architectural fabrications.

The plant, which is run completely on electricity and has zero emissions, was originally located elsewhere, but also moved into the zone, which has economic advantages.

“We moved to the Bronx from Queens, and we are hiring people for jobs that pay enough to support a family,” said Jeff Dyzenhaus, vice-president at Metalworks. “I see us hiring a lot more people in the next few years.

Michael Josephs, sole proprietor of Metalworks, stated that he plans on building an addition onto their already expansive plant, which includes state of the art technology for molding and shaping metals.

“We are contracting with a local builder to add an addition to the plant,” Josephs said.

The construction of the addition, which will allow for an Empire Zone tax-credit, will indirectly create construction jobs in the area, Bieder said, “and that benefits everyone.” 

Updated 5:30 pm, October 21, 2011
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