Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cuomo predicts state budget surplus

Crain’s New York is reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said New York could have a budget surplus that could result in tax cuts.

With the Governor’s New York State Tax Relief Commission set to release recommendations in the near future, he said his focus would not be on cutting personal income tax (PIT) – although it was recently reported that former New York Gov. George Pataki, co-chairman of The Commission, would propose PIT cuts in the report.

The Governor recently told the Capitol Pressroom, “We just did the [personal income tax] last year… I have no interest in reopening the personal income tax discussion since we just redid it…”

As the Crain’s article notes, New Yorkers pay among the highest property taxes in the country although the tax cap limits increases to 2% unless voters approve higher proposed tax rates.

Shrinking unemployment in Buffalo Niagara area

A Buffalo News analysis of recently released job numbers shows the Buffalo Niagara region’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in October – its lowest level in nearly five years.  The newspaper noted that local companies continued to hire at a modest pace.

The new job numbers show that unemployment is the lowest for the month of October since 2008 and the region added jobs at a rate of 0.9 percent, although the are still 25,000 fewer people employed than in October 2005.

Read more on the Buffalo News website.

Small Business Saturday – November 30

Small Business Saturday is this coming Saturday, November 30.  The day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country was founded by American Express in 2010, and is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For more information on how you can Shop Small, visit the American Express website or visit The Business Council’s Made in New York website, which features many businesses that produce New York made products and services.  Click here for an interactive map of Made in New York businesses in your area.

Anheuser-Busch InBev to launch hard cider in 2014

Business Council member Anheuser-Busch will launch a new hard cider brand called Johnny Appleseed in 2014.  According to the Syracuse Post Standard, this could be good news for the Syracuse area as the Anheuser-Busch InBev plant near Syracuse is currently one of only 12 Anheuser-Busch plants already producing that type of drink.

Although it is not known if the plant will be chosen to produce the new hard cider, the newspaper reports it would be a natural fit. The Baldwinsville brewery already produces two hard ciders: Stella Cidre and Michelob Ultra Cider and is one of the A-B InBev plants already equipped with a canning line that is the specified size of the new drink.

In related cider news, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y), is renewing his push for legislation called the Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction (or CIDER) Act.  The legislation which would change the definition of hard apple cider and pear cider in the Internal Revenue Code, increasing the allowed alcohol by volume, and allowing the product to be taxed like hard cider instead of wine.

Schumer says the plan would boost sales for New York’s over 20 existing hard apple cider producers and allow the over 650 apple growers to expand their businesses. The legislation was introduced by Schumer in March and is currently before the Senate’s Finance Committee.

Smaller, less expensive Albany convention center

The Business Review is reporting that a scaled-down version of a proposed Albany convention center could cost $66.5 million for an 82,000-square-foot facility to be located on Eagle Street near the Capitol.

It is expected the venue would attract 87,000 visitors every year and generate enough revenue to cover any operating costs. Construction could start as early as September 2014 and be finished by July 2016, creating approximately 114 construction jobs and 157 permanent jobs.

The current financing plan requires state approval – with the state providing $62.2 million in funding for the project, and the balance of funding from Albany County’s hotel occupancy tax and the Albany Convention Center Authority.

Seminar: Critical Issues in Labor and Employment Law

Join Business Council member, Harris Beach, PLLC on Thursday, December 12, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany for the seminar and discussion, Critical Issues in Labor and Employment Law: What You Need to Know.  Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, will introduce the session.  

Topics include:

• Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): Where To Go From Here?

• Social Media Use, Social Media Employee Policies and Protected Employee Activity

• Wage and Hour Exposures: From Basics to Practical Solutions in a Changing World

• ADA: Defining “Qualified” and Defining What is a Reasonable Accommodation

For more information, click here.  If you are interested in attending, please respond by Thursday, December 5, 2013 to Jenn Jones at or call 1-800-685-1429 x1112. HRCI credit pending.

NYC Foam ban hearing

The Business Council joined restaurant owners, business leaders, and community members yesterday at a hearing in New York City to voice opposition to a proposed ban the sale of polystyrene foam foodservice products.

The ban was introduced and supported by the Bloomberg Administration earlier this year. Business owners spoke about the potential for increased costs and reduced bottom lines if the New York City Council moves forward on the proposed ban.

“The Business Council of New York State is pleased to join with large and small businesses from across New York State to urge the City Council to reject an ill-conceived prohibition to a widely used, safe, clean, and recyclable product,” said Darren Suarez, Director of Government Affairs for The Business Council.

Styrene toxicology expert George Cruzan also testified at the hearing about the scientific consensus that polystyrene foam foodservice products are completely safe for consumers. Based on scientific tests over five decades, government safety agencies have determined that polystyrene is safe for use in foodservice products.  In 2011, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., Director, U.S. National Toxicology Program told the Associated Press that the levels of styrene from polystyrene containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting…In finished products, certainly styrene is not an issue.”

For more information on the impact of a polystyrene foam ban, the potential for recycling and how to get involved, please visit

Buffalo Niagara Partnership sets agenda for 2014

Buffalo Niagara Partnership released its agenda for 2014 that emphasizes spurring trade and the economy.

The Buffalo News reports that Peace Bridge plaza improvements, the extension of the Route 219 expressway, transportation projects, brownfield cleanup efforts, initiatives to encourage local entrepreneurs to start businesses, economic-development initiatives from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, and Gov. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion investment plan are priorities.

The newspaper quotes Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, “Our region is changing, and we have more collaboration. It is really important that we align with these efforts and speak with one voice.”

Other priority projects include urging New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation to approve rules that would allow new liquefied natural gas fueling stations to be built in New York and improving trade with Canada.

For more information on the Buffalo Niagara Partnership agenda visit their website.

Mid-Hudson REDC meeting

The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) will meet today to discuss their strategic plan and project implementation.  The Council’s progress report and full list of endorsed priority projects for 2013 can be found online. All individuals, businesses, organizations, labor representatives and university representatives from the Mid-Hudson Region (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties) are welcome to attend the public meeting at 1:00 p.m. at Kawasaki Rail, 29 Wells Avenue, Yonkers, New York 10701

Phillips Lytle office revitalizes Buffalo waterfront

Business Council member Phillips Lytle LLP, one of Western New York’s preeminent law firms, cut the ribbon on new state-of-the-art office on Buffalo’s waterfront.

David J. McNamara, Managing Partner, Phillips Lytle, said, “This new space offered us a blank canvas to create a law office that will be a vehicle for outstanding client service by enabling collaboration, efficiency and innovation. Our firm has grown and prospered on lower Main Street for the last 179 years and we look forward to continued success while contributing to the vibrancy of Canalside. It was one thing to work with our project partners to put our dream office on paper, but I can’t fully describe the thrill of watching those plans become a physical reality. We are really proud of what we have created, and will be reminded of how fortunate we are to be located in this community each and every time we walk through our office doors.”

The 85,000-square-foot law office has 300 employees and 13 conference rooms and occupies the top four floors of the eight-story former Donovan State Office Building, now known as One Canalside and

In July 2011, Benderson Development Company and Phillips Lytle formally announced the first significant private investment in the emerging Canalside area. The more than $30 million project involved stripping the vacant government building down to its steel beams and giving it a modern exterior and ultra-functional interior.  Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), a state entity that supports and promotes the creation of infrastructure and public activities along Buffalo’s waterfront, assumed title to the Donovan Building in December 2007 and started asbestos remediation. It later decided that the best use for the building would be adaptive reuse and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the building which was awarded to Benderson Development Company.

Governor Cuomo said, “Through the state’s hard work and investment, the success of Canalside is now an absolute magnet for new private sector investment.”