MOUNT VERNON-New York State has approved a section of downtown Mount Vernon to be Westchester County’s second Empire Zone. The designation will afford substantial tax incentives to spur private sector investment and job creation.

The announcement of Mount Vernon’s approval as an Empire Zone was made on Friday, June 14 at the Mount Vernon East Metro North Station by Governor George Pataki. A host of city, county and state dignitaries were on hand for the event. Earlier this year, a section of the City of Yonkers was approved as an Empire Zone.

State officials say the Empire Zone will generate a projected $283.8 million in new business investment in the City of Mount Vernon and will lead to the creation of 1,790 new jobs and the retention of another 875 jobs.

The zone entails a two square mile from the downtown district to Sanford Blvd., which is located near the city’s border with the village of Pelham.

Commenting on the approval of the city’s Empire Zone application, Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis says, “It has been a long journey and we are grateful to Governor Pataki for his consistent support and understanding. I would also like to thank the legislature for recognizing the need of a major city. Because of the Empire Zone we expect to improve the quality of life and create jobs and opportunity. It will make the city stronger, the county stronger and the state stronger.”

A major initiative that will be able to move forward due to the designation is “The Mount Vernon Downtown Revitalization Plan,” which features $210 million in development, including a sports arena proposed by Mayor Davis, a 300-room hotel, an office building complex, a convention center and new retail mall. In addition, an intermodal transportation center is planned for the downtown district as well. The revitalization plan is expected to create 1,000 new jobs.

Another major project that will benefit from the Empire Zone designation is a $50 million retail development on Sanford Blvd. that is expected to create 324 new jobs.

State and city officials also report that a number of local firms plan to expand their operations in Mount Vernon including: Michael Anthony Jewelers, which plans to invest $10 million in its manufacturing operations. The expansion project will create 300 new jobs and retain the existing 650 member Michael Anthony workforce. A&P Coat, Apron & Linen Supply plans to invest $13.2 million in an expansion of its Mount Vernon facilities, and Secs Inc. and Promptus Electronic Hardware Inc. will pump $600,000 into their city operations. The firms will create 16 new jobs and retain 93 existing workers.

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