Business owners can net tax credits of up to $5,000 if they hire at-risk youths through a recently expanded New York state jobs program.
The New York Youth Works Program aims to connect businesses with disadvantaged 16- to 25-year-olds from cities like Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and White Plains. Businesses that are certified by the state and hire employees through Youth Works can earn credits of up to $2,500 for part-time employees and $5,000 for full-timers.
The state Legislature has agreed to extend the program until 2018 with $6 million worth of tax credits per year. The program first launched in 2012 and targeted 12 urban areas. Young people from cities that exceeded a population of 62,000 could seek job placement through the program, and though that included several Westchester communities, it excluded White Plains.
Assemblyman David Buchwald, a Democrat who formerly served on the White Plains City Council, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Scarsdale Democrat, successfully lobbied to reduce the population threshold to 55,000. That opened the door to the inclusion of White Plains youths for the first time.
Buchwald told the Business Journal the program not only gives experience to area youths but can serve as a driver for the local economy.
“I firmly believe that businesses in and around White Plains will be able to look at this program and recognize that we have very bright and educated young workers,” he said.
The Youth Works program has placed 12,866 young people in 1,270 businesses since it began, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“This sort of intensive helps companies take a chance on and offer opportunities to some new employees, and hopefully as a result grow their business,” he said.
Buchwald held a news conference May 21 at the headquarters of the White Plains Youth Bureau. Frank Williams Jr., executive director of the bureau, said the timing of the announcement was fitting, just before the summer hiring rush.
“Showing our young adults what it takes to run a successful business will help inspire them to reach their full potential,” he said.
Businesses are required to apply for certification through the state Labor Department by Nov. 30 and must hire employees certified to participate in the program. The department said it matches candidates based on industry and skill sets. Workers in the program must start work in 2014. Employers are not allowed to ask employees through the program why they are eligible to participate, the department said.
Tax credits for full-time employees, or employees that work 35 or more hours per week, are for $500 per month for a maximum of $3,000 over six months. If the company retains the employee for six months beyond that period, an additional $1,000 tax credit kicks in. If the business holds on to the employee for a complete second year, another $1,000 tax credit is added.
Tax credits for part-time employees operate similarly, with $250 monthly for the first six months, $500 for six additional months and another $500 for a full second year. Part-time employment is defined as 20 to 34 hours per week or 10 to 34 hours if the employee is 16 to 19 years old and enrolled in school full time.
For businesses to be eligible for the program, they must be within a “reasonable commuting distance” for employees in the targeted areas. They must also be in good legal standing.
The areas outside of Westchester included in the program are New York City, Hempstead, Brookhaven, Utica, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Schenectady.
Businesses interested in becoming certified can visit jobs.ny.gov/youthworks or call 877-226-5724.