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New York has relaxed its professional company ownership laws an now allows non-licensed professionals to own up to a 25% stake in companies such as architecture and engineering firms.

That means corporate attorneys, chief financial officers, marketing staff and other non-licensed professionals can become owners, thereby facilitating a simpler process for adopting employee stock ownership plans, among other techniques. This law relaxes a restriction that has been in place since 1935 that limits ownership to only licensed professionals.

The change will make it easier for firms to recruit and retain employees because neighboring states have had less onerous ownership regulations than New York, said Jay Simson, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, "It will provide firms with greater access to capital, further promoting creation and retention of jobs in the state," Simson said.

The trade association has been trying to get the legislation passed for about 10 years. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, a Cohoes Democrat, and Sen. Kenneth LaValle, a Long Island Republican. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill Sept. 23.