Last week, the Syracuse Post Standard featured a major article commenting on New York Governor Cuomo’s Start-Up NY Program.

Start-Up NY is a New York-issued program for local, small businesses to “start and expand” their companies in a tax-free zone. The article asserted that Cuomo’s economic plan has had a low impact in the Syracuse, NY area.

Doug Crescenzi, Syracuse University alum, and co-founder/ CEO of Lono and co-founder of Hack Upstate, responded to that article to share his experiences with Hack Upstate. It mentions Syracuse University, the iSchool at SU, and former Dean (now Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor) Liz Liddy.

The following is Crescenzi’s unabridged, original letter to the Editor of the Post Standard ( (The edited letter that appeared in the Post-Standard this week can be found here.)

“Thank you CenterState CEO and Syracuse University

Upon reading Sunday’s article pertaining to CNY’s lagging Start-Up NY activity, I felt inclined to share our company’s story (i.e., Hack Upstate, LLC) and highlight the hardworking people driving CNY’s efforts.

What is Hack Upstate?

Hack Upstate’s mission is to unite and facilitate collaboration among Upstate New York’s engineering communities. In doing so, we seek to contribute to the growth of Upstate New York’s technology sector, and to create a robust network of technologists and regional technology companies.

We do this by working with regional partners (e.g., AT&T, CenterState CEO, Syracuse University, SUNY Oswego, and many others) to coordinate and execute upon hackathons for students and practitioners. A hackathon is an event in which engineers and developers collaborate and build products in a limited amount of time.

To date, Hack Upstate has carried out nine hackathons in two years, and built a growing network comprised of thousands of Upstate New York engineers and nearly a hundred Upstate technology employers. Most importantly, we’ve had success aligning (exceptional) Upstate engineering talent with our growing base of Upstate employers.

This couldn’t have been done without CenterState CEO and Syracuse University; two entities leading CNY’s Start-Up NY efforts.

Why CenterState CEO and Syracuse University have been instrumental?

For Hack Upstate to get off the ground two years ago, it was critical we identify strategic partners vested in our mission. CenterState CEO and Syracuse University – particularly the Syracuse iSchool – proved more than willing, and were there to help right from the start. Along with sponsoring our events, sharing their facilities, and opening up their networks to us, they’ve proven keen supporters and relentless evangelists of our mission.

In particular, Seth Mulligan, VP of Innovation Services at the Tech Garden and CenterState CEO, has worked relentlessly to help us identify and solicit resources necessary to execute upon our events. Not to mention, he’s battled through countless complexities associated with New York State’s Hot Spot tax benefits, and helped our company save thousands of dollars in local and state income taxes. Ultimately, these savings will be used to sponsor other like minded programs and companies throughout Upstate (e.g., Create Upstate, Level Up Con, etc) and to continue employing part-time CNY graduate students throughout 2015.

From Syracuse University, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Liz Liddy (formerly the Dean of the iSchool), has played a pivotal role in helping to establish an entrepreneurial culture throughout the university. Students from Syracuse who’ve benefited from the programs she’s instituted have proven more prepared than ever to help grow a small startup like Hack Upstate. Throughout this past year, two graduate students in particular (and beneficiaries of Dr. Liddy’s programs), have been paramount to our business’s growth.

Start-Up NY’s future in CNY

I appreciate Kevin Tampone shedding light upon how CNY stacks up in the context of Cuomo’s Start-UP NY program relative to other regions in the state (and look forward to future content on the matter).

However, I’d be remiss not to highlight those in CNY, particularly the hardworking folks at CenterState CEO and Syracuse University, who are going above and beyond to make this program a success locally. These are passionate, mission driven individuals who work around the clock in pursuit of advancing CNY’s economic growth.

We’re fortunate to be in good hands.”


What do you think about Cuomo’s Start-Up NY Program? Leave your comments below!