Monthly Archives: March 2014

Business Council Statement on New York State Budget

Today, The Business Council of New York State issued the following statement from President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. on the New York State Budget

“For the fourth year in a row, the budget reflects a plan to control spending — keeping it at less than two percent — illustrating the commitment of Governor Cuomo and New York’s legislative leaders to keep New York on the path to prosperity.

“The broad-based tax reductions and reforms included in the budget — the most significant New York has seen in decades — will improve our tax climate relative to other states and promote investment and jobs in key economic sectors throughout the state.

“By adopting key tax reform measures — including modernizing and restructuring the corporate franchise tax, reforming bank taxation, reducing the corporate franchise tax rate to 6.5 percent, adopting the 20 percent real property tax credit for manufacturers, and others — New York will provide employers with approximately $560 million in tax relief that can be reinvested in the economy. This will allow companies to better keep jobs and resources in New York that benefit communities across the state.

“Significant reforms to the state’s estate tax law, eventually matching the federal exemption, will eliminate the estate tax for many small businesses, farm owners, and homeowners alike, avoiding business disruptions and reducing the incentive to migrate out of New York.

“Although the budget makes adjustments to the implementation of the Common Core, The Business Council was pleased to see it preserves the new, more rigorous standards that are crucial to ensuring students graduate college, and career, ready.

“Additionally, the sustained funding for New York’s tourism industry will help continue the momentum of the past few years, investing in an economy that boosts jobs and economic growth.

“The final budget agreement is overwhelmingly positive for the state’s economic climate. We look forward to continuing our work with the Governor and Legislature to continue to grow job opportunity and the economy in New York.”

Request for Application for Commercial Casinos

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board today approved the Request for Applications to Develop and Operate a Gaming Facility in New York State and opened the bidding period for commercial casino applicants.

The Request for Applications (RFA) may be downloaded at

The RFA, as mandated by the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act establishes minimum license fees for commercial casino licenses in each region and details how local support must be illustrated. Applicants are required to participate in an April 30, 2014 Applicants Conference, which will take place in the Capital Region, be open to the public and streamed online. Details on the conference will be made available in the near future.

Applications for gaming facilities will be accepted until June 30, 2014.

GE partners with innovative startup Quirky

Crowdsourcing, innovation and advanced manufacturing techniques are at the heart of a unique partnership between The Business Council member General Electric and Quirky.  A year ago GE and Quirky partnered to share patents and together were able to develop a line of smartphone app-enabled products, including the “smartest air conditioner in the world” that launched just last week.

Quirky partnered with GE Appliances to make the air conditioner, called Aros, and it should be on Home Depot shelves in fewer than three months. Another member of The Business Council, Con Edison, is even looking to offer a rebate to New York City dwellers who use the product because of its energy-saving potential.

The partnership also resulted in an announcement this week that Quirky will establish a call center and testing lab in downtown Schenectady, home to several GE installations including its global research and development center.

The Quirky-GE partnership is just the beginning, said GE Global Research Director Mark Little at a news conference announcing Quirky’s move to Schenectady.

“We are a gigantic global company that spends billions every year on innovation,” he said. “We search the world for great partners to work with. We found an outstanding partner in Quirky. We combine our technical might and skill with a startup company that has tremendous energy to innovate around the world. This is a combination that can’t be beat.”

“GE and Schenectady gave the world electricity, the first television broadcast, the steam turbine and dozens of other transformative inventions,” said Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman in a news release. “We can’t wait to set up shop here and be a part of that history. We’re really excited to join this community — which continues to be a world leader in technology and manufacturing — and continue Schenectady’s tradition of innovation.”

Quirky gives anybody with an idea, the potential to be an inventor. In September 2013, when Kaufman was 26, New York Magazine profiled the company and offered this explanation for how it all works:
“Here’s Ben Kaufman’s business, in capsule form. You have an idea for an invention. You submit your concept, one of 3,000 per week, to his website, Quirky. Hundreds of users vote on it, and the most up-voted ideas rise to the top of the pile. Then, every Thursday night, 200 people gather under a bank of webcams, with Kaufman and three or four other people up front, where they pick over the front-runners. Viewers weigh in again, and the room chooses three items to put into development, with Quirky’s engineers taking over. (They once got a kitchen item — an egg separator called Pluck — into Bed Bath & Beyond 29 days after it was selected.) If you voted for, say, the winning color, your name will appear, in micro-type, on the product’s packaging, and you’ll get a tiny slice of the profits. It’s a pretty rare company that’s so hippieish — Let’s have everyone get a say! — yet so purely free-market.”

When people buy the world’s smartest air conditioner, they will know that it’s a Quirky product, but also that it was invented by a guy named Garthen Leslie from Maryland. Leslie was working at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., when he came up with the idea for an air conditioner that knows when you’re on your way home.

“These air conditioners are a huge energy hog,” said Kaufman. “And [Garthen] thought, someone should make a smart air conditioner that learns your preferences and only turns itself on when you absolutely need it. He couldn’t just make an air conditioner though. So he sat on the idea until he heard about Quirky. He saw us on the Jay Leno show and submitted his idea and his idea got voted up.”

Final New York state budget needs to grow jobs and economy

As the Governor and New York State Legislature progress in final budget negotiations, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. is calling for a final state budget that boost jobs and New York’s economy.

“Job creation and economic growth are key to building strong communities in New York,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Continuing to restrain spending, implementing broad-based tax reform and mandate relief need to be a priority for a final state budget.”

The Council also debuted a new ad, “Help New York’s economy grow,” focusing on how tax cuts will help improve New York’s economy. Watch the ad below.

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Business Council Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky’s letter to the editor was published in the Albany Times Union. Read his letter that outlines how increasing taxes won’t help create jobs in New York how tax cuts would help create a more competitive economic climate to generate good-paying jobs and healthier communities.

A study earlier this year by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. (PPI), “Analysis of Economic Impacts of New York Corporate Income Tax Reform,” showed that when the tax reforms are fully adopted, major business and employment sectors will grow including construction, trades and business service sectors, manufacturing, and financial services.

Among the other issues of concern to The Business Council in a final state budget: Paid Family Leave, Out-of-Network Mandates, Energy Tax, Campaign Finance Reform, Brownfields, and education and tourism funding. Read more on The Business Council’s website.

New York manufacturers support elimination of onerous energy tax

With budget negotiations underway, The Business Council of New York State joined other the state manufacturing interests in writing a letter to Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders expressing continued support for Part S of the TED Article VII legislation as contained in the Senate and Governor’s budgets.

This measure would reduce the Public Service Law § 18-a(6) Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment (Temporary Assessment) by a total of $200 million per year by eliminating the assessment on large utility customers and accelerate the phase out for all other customers. Affordable energy is a critical component to any thriving economy, and a necessity for New York businesses and residents alike, particularly to the energy intensive manufacturing sector.

Groups signing the letter with The Business Council include: Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, Chief Executives Network for Manufacturing of the Capital Region, Manufacturers Alliance of New York,  Manufacturers Association of Central New York, and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier.

Read the letter on The Business Council’s website.

“Bridge to Success” loan program for minority and women contractors

Short-term loans are now available through participating lenders in the Bridge to Success loan program.  At least $20 million is available to expand access to short-term bridge loans for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). The program will provide qualified MWBEs with the short-term resources they need to participate in up to $1 billion in contracting opportunities with New York State.

“Small businesses are the engine of New York’s economy, but because of their size they have a harder time getting the capital they need to compete for state contracts,” Governor Cuomo said. “To encourage their full participation in rebuilding our economy, the Bridge to Success program will help more small businesses access short-term loans so they can do business with New York’s agencies and authorities. Supporting MWBEs is one more way we’re expanding economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

Empire State Development (ESD) is providing $2.73 million under the Bridge to Success program in loan loss reserves to five participating lenders who will make $20 million available in much needed, short-term, working capital loans to qualifying MWBEs. ESD’s support stimulates increased lending in this area and enables participating lenders to mitigate risk.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “By partnering with high capacity lenders around the state, we are dramatically increasing the lending opportunities for MWBEs looking to work with the State. Many banks are reluctant to provide credit to these firms given the short-term nature of their capital need and the size and experience of many of these companies, despite a good idea or track record. The Governor’s Bridge to Success Program levels the playing field and opens the door for businesses that face challenges using traditional funding sources.”

Loans made under the program will typically be under $200,000 with terms under two years. Funds will provide qualified MWBEs the bridge capital they need to hire staff, buy materials, or purchase equipment, giving them a better chance to secure and perform on the up to $1 billion that is currently available in State contracting opportunities. Click here to learn more.

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board selects advisory consultant

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board has selected the firm of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP to provide gaming advisory services in its review and ultimate selection of casino applicants for Upstate New York.

The selection of a consultant to provide the Gaming Facility Location Board members with analysis of the gaming industry and assist with the comprehensive review and evaluation of the applications is mandated by the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act.

The New York State Gaming Commission issued a Request for Proposals for the consultant in November 2013. The proposal put forth by Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP was selected over four other timely proposals received.

Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP has subcontracted with several entities to assist in the project, including financial advisory firm Christiansen Capital Advisors, investment bank Houlihan Lokey and gaming facility consultant Macomber International, Inc.

The announcement of the consultant is a good sign the timeline for casino licenses as announced by the Governor during his State of the State address is moving ahead as planned.

Read more on the New York Gaming Commission’s website.

Verizon invested more than $1.6 billion in New York’s and Connecticut’s wireline telecommunications infrastructure in 2013

Business Council member Verizon recently announced that the company spent $1.6 billion on fiber-optic and Internet Protocol-based networks in New York and Connecticut in 2013.  The company said that much of the money was used to replace cables and other infrastructure that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.

Verizon also highlighted an agreement that it reached with New York City last year to conduct a pilot program of “microtrenching,” which enables its technicians to install fiber-optic cables in a manner that is much less disruptive to streets and sidewalks.

Kevin Service, Verizon’s president for consumer and mass business in the Northeast, said, “Our network investments in New York and Connecticut provide an engine for economic growth through our aggressive wireline and wireless networks and IT deployment.  No other company is as deeply tied on a daily basis to the residents and the economy of the region as Verizon. Our advanced networks enable new businesses to grow, small businesses to percolate, give schools and educators a platform for learning, and provide families a means to connect.”

Read more about Verizon’s major wireline infrastructure programs in 2013 on Verizon’s website.


FIRST Robotics Competitions hit New York


Business Council member Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) hosted the New York Tech Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, last week. The program challenged high school students to use STEM skills to design and build a robot that competed against each other.

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., Business Council president and CEO, joined RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson and Elliott Masie, CEO of the Masie Center and General Electric Global Research Director Mark Little (pictured) to help the more than 1,000 high school students attending cheer on the teams and encourage them to pursue their math and science skills.

Several Business Council members, RPI, GE, National Grid, Time Warner Cable, and Global Foundries, sponsored the competition.

The Finger Lakes Regional FIRST Robotics Competition will be held next week at Business Council member, the Rochester Institute of Technology and similar competitions will be held next week in New York City and on Long Island.

The Business Council supports and promotes FIRST Robotics as part of our education and workforce development initiative.

Business Council’s Ken Pokalsky on Governor Cuomo’s Bank Tax Plan



Ken Pokalsky, The Business Council’s vice president of government affairs, spoke to the Time Warner Cable News show Capital Tonight about the New York State Senate and Assembly one-house budget resolutions that modify Governor Cuomo’s bank tax.

Pokalsky highlighted how changing the bank tax will help keep jobs in New York and boost the economy noting that most states don’t have a separate bank tax and that the proposed changes are the same as changes that happened ten years ago for corporations doing business in NY. Since 1990, nationwide bank jobs have increased by 200,000 but New York state has lost 100,000 bank jobs during that time.

Watch the full interview on the Time Warner Cable news website (TWC ID required).

Pokalsky also spoke out on the issue on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom earlier in the week.  Listen to the interview on WCNY’s website (starts at 13:30).