BUILDING EMPIRES

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FYI: Chinatown business and civic groups are working with city officials to make it into the city’s 11th Empire Zone–a neighborhood where small businesses get tax breaks and other incentives for growth–without getting state legislative approval, a Villager report explains. Last year, the state declined Chinatown’s application to become an Empire Zone, instead creating a new one upstate. But Empire State Development Corporation head Charles Gargano recently told business leaders that the city could create an Empire Zone in Chinatown on its own. The law allows the city to redistribute up to 25 percent of its overall Empire Zone area to create a new one without state approval. The Department of Small Business Services is now surveying existing zones to see how much unused space could be siphoned off. Some Chinatown leaders worry, however, that the new “sub-zone” will not be large enough to make an impact. [4/4/03]