Monthly Archives: April 2014

New NYISO power control center

NYISO New Control Center Interior 040714nyiso_opening

Federal, state and local government and energy industry leaders gathered yesterday to unveil the completed construction of the New York Independent System Operator‘s (NYISO) new, $38 million primary power control center. The 64,000-square-foot control facility features the latest digital monitoring technologies to strengthen grid reliability and security throughout the state and region.

“Our new control center will help us meet the 21st century’s grid reliability requirements through the use of the latest control technologies and state-of-the-art visual displays that are designed to improve the NYISO’s ability to receive, process and monitor changing conditions throughout the region,” said Stephen G. Whitley, the NYISO’s president and CEO. “Reliable operation of the grid requires constant vigilance – balancing the supply of power with consumer demand for electricity on a moment-to-moment basis – every hour of the day, every day of the year.”

“It is critically important that we maintain and improve the reliability of the electric power system, as it is vital to the production of goods and services in both the commercial and industrial sectors,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “The opening of the NYISO control center will increase situational awareness of the electric power system, which is crucial in improving the reliability and resiliency of the grid. Replacing one of the oldest North American ISO and RTO control centers with the new center is a positive step for New York’s business community.”

The new primary control center supports a number of key energy goals, including:

  • Enabling improved integration of renewable energy supplies by deploying renewable resource management tools such as wind forecasts, meteorological conditions and generation output data to better assess and employ variable wind and solar renewable power resources.
  • Maintaining reliability while managing the growing complexity of modern electric grid operations through smart grid technology that integrates and processes significantly higher volumes of data.
  • Implementing the NYISO’s broader regional markets initiative that will provide New York with approximately $190 million in annual savings through mechanisms that eliminate market barriers and optimize resources among regions.

 

This state-of-the-art facility also harnesses grid control technologies installed in the NYISO’s smart grid project, which was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

With support from the Recovery Act, the Energy Department partnered with utilities across the United States to deploy sophisticated grid sensors – known as synchrophasors – that monitor the flow of electricity with unprecedented precision and provide continuous and near-real-time information on the grid’s health and security.

These measurements allow system operators and owners to identify and respond to potential disturbances quickly and effectively – improving overall grid reliability, safeguarding against power outages and enabling faster restoration of power. The new control center will give NYISO and neighboring grid control areas a far more expansive and in-depth view of the power grid.

New York’s corporate tax reform improves state business tax climate

The recently finalized FY 2014-2015 New York state budget includes major reforms to the state’s corporate income tax system and estate tax that will broaden the state’s tax bases, lower tax rates and reduce the complexity of New York’s flawed corporate tax code, according to a new report released by the Tax Foundation. The Business Council aggressively advocated for these tax reforms to be included in the final state budget. The Tax Foundation noted that if these reforms had been implemented prior to its evaluation of state tax laws in mid-2013, that New York’s corporate tax system would have ranked 4th best nationwide, behind only three states with no corporate income tax, instead of 25th.

“The Business Council helped shape, and strongly supported this reform package, knowing it would make New York’s business tax climate more competitive,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council of New York State. It is gratifying to see the state’s actions gaining national attention, as one of the most significant tax reform packages adopted by any state over the last year.”

The Tax Foundation report summarizes the elements of the lengthy bill, and its key findings include:

  • The four different tax bases for calculating corporate tax are reduced to three as of FY 2015 (eliminating the corporate AMT base) and further reduced to two over time (eliminating the capital stock base).
  • The corporate net income tax rate is reduced from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, the lowest level since 1968.
  • The duplicative bank tax system is merged into the better-developed corporate tax system.
  • The estate tax is recoupled over time to the higher federal threshold, exempting many small businesses from hefty taxes upon the death of their owners. The generation-skipping transfer tax is repealed.
  • Net operating losses are restructured to reduce uncertainty for taxpayers, NOL carrybacks are extended to three years, and the $10,000 cap is removed. NOL carryforwards remain twenty years, similar to federal law.
  • The individual add-on Minimum Tax is repealed.
  • If the changes enacted by the bill were in full effect for the most recent version of the State Business Tax Climate Index, New York’s corporate tax system would have ranked 4th best of the fifty states instead of 25th best.

 

In the 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index, which evaluated state tax laws as of July 1, 2013, New York’s corporate tax system ranked 25th best out of the fifty states, and the overall tax structure ranked 50th, or last. If the changes enacted by the bill were in full effect for the most recent version of the Index, New York’s corporate tax system would have instead ranked 4th best of the fifty states, behind only three states with no corporate income tax.

The state’s overall rank would have improved two spots to 48th, beating New Jersey and California. New York is not a low-tax state, and its economic success is because of strengths that overcome a challenging tax environment, with recent tax commission reports recommending many of the changes incorporated in the bill.

“New York is not a low-tax state, and its economic success is because of strengths that overcome a challenging tax environment. High taxes need not also be complex or poorly structured taxes, however, and removing these obstacles will encourage job creation and economic activity,” said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation Vice President of State Projects. “New York’s 2014 corporate tax reform is an impressive step toward tackling this problem by broadening bases, lowering rates, reducing burdens, and eliminating needless complexity.”

Read the full Tax Foundation analysis, New York Corporate Tax Overhaul Broadens Bases, Lowers Rates, and Reduces Complexity, on the Tax Foundation’s website.

 

Saint Rose names Dr. Carolyn Stefanco as President

StefancoThe board of trustees of Business Council member The College of Saint Rose announced the selection of Dr. Carolyn J. Stefanco of Decatur, Ga., to serve as the 11th president of the College. Currently, Stefanco is vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, a position she has held since 2010.

Stefanco will assume her new role July 1, 2014.  She succeeds Dr. Margaret Kirwin, who has served as interim president since July 2013.

“We are extremely pleased to name Dr. Carolyn Stefanco as the 11th president of The College of Saint Rose.  A recognized scholar and educator, her proven success is deep and broad, from her recent academic leadership at Agnes Scott College in Georgia to creating new initiatives and moving them forward at Cal Poly, many of which continue today.  Her international experience in London and as a Fulbright Scholar in Croatia will enhance what Saint Rose is already doing to globalize the campus.  As we approach the College’s 100-year anniversary, the entire Saint Rose community welcomes Carolyn as the College takes its place on the national stage,” said Judith Calogero, trustee and co-chair of the presidential search committee.

In her current position, Stefanco serves as Agnes Scott’s chief academic officer and the first of the college’s five vice presidents.  The Division of Academic Affairs includes academic programs, the curriculum, staff and faculty recruitment and review, budget planning and management, assessment, student success, international education, sponsored programs and information technology, as well as numerous other offices and resources.  During her four-year tenure, she led initiatives that achieved master planning goals, won institutional reaccreditation, increased academic quality and student retention, raised funds from foundations and individuals, and fostered the college’s global efforts.

The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a dynamic, progressive college of 4,700 students where teaching is the first priority.  With a rigorous liberal education curriculum, 72 undergraduate majors, 52 master’s degrees and 21 graduate certificates, and a mission of service to the urban community, the Saint Rose experience empowers students to improve themselves and the world around them.

Lafarge hosts groundbreaking event for plant modernization project

LafargegroundHBLaFarge

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. joined member company Lafarge North America Inc. at their groundbreaking event for the multi-million dollar modernization project at the Ravena, N.Y. cement plant today.  The new state-of-the-art facility will be equipped with advanced efficiency features that will enable the plant to compete successfully and meet the economy’s need for high quality cement.

“Lafarge is committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize the Ravena cement facility because we are committed to competing in the U.S. market in an environmentally responsible way,” said John Stull, Lafarge U.S. president and CEO. “New York is an advantageous location for Lafarge. This is an opportunity to better serve customers in this market and allow us to continue contributing to building better cities and communities across the region.”

Lafarge Ravena’s product is in demand supplying several high profile projects in the Northeast including the new Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City and the Global Foundries plant located in Malta, New York.

After an extensive review process, the plant modernization project received widespread support from the public, advocates, and community and business leaders. In late 2013, Lafarge was granted an extension of the project timeline by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The event was attended by a number of national, state and local elected officials and regional leaders, who supported the project and helped at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The modernization project is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2016 and expected to retain the plant’s 110 jobs, in addition to creating hundreds of temporary jobs during the construction phase.

New York State Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit

Today, at the second New York State Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the State will be launching a $6 million marketing and promotional commitment to raise the profile of New York’s beverage producers, a dramatic increase from the campaign launched at the first summit in 2012. The summit featured the farm-based beverage sector together with agricultural producers and government officials in an effort to accelerate and prolong the rapid growth exhibited by the State’s beverage industry.

Under the new marketing and promotional commitment, the State will commit $2 million in direct spending to support the industry’s growth via a $1 million targeted advertising campaign and $1 million in tourism promotion funding. Additionally, Empire State Development (ESD) will launch a $2 million grant program that matches $2 million in industry contributions for the marketing and promotion of wine, beer, spirits and cider produced in New York State. Entities deemed eligible for this grant funding will include not-for-profit organizations whose primary purpose and mission is the promotion and marketing of New York State produced wine, beer, spirits and cider.

“Agriculture and tourism have the potential for tremendous growth in New York, and over the past few years we have seen that our investments in the farm-based beverage industry are resulting in new opportunities for small business owners throughout the State,” Governor Cuomo said. “The proposals and actions announced today will make it easier than ever before to start a farm-based beverage business, raise the profile of producers across the State, and open up new markets where our entrepreneurs can succeed. Today’s summit was all about creating jobs and stimulating the economy, and I am confident that by working alongside our partners in the private sector our producers will be able to thrive and compete anywhere in the world.”

Since the first summit, legislation has been enacted and initiatives have been launched to help the beverage industry open new markets and expand its visibility across the globe. This in turn has helped create thriving new businesses, increase agritourism opportunities and grow jobs in every region of the state. Since the first quarter of 2011, State actions that support agricultural producers have contributed to an 83 percent growth in farm-based beverage licenses.

Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “New York has a host of businesses and products that put our state on the map as a leader in agriculture-based beverages, including our award-winning craft breweries and wineries that stretch from the Finger Lakes to Long Island, as well as the small, artisanal distilleries and cider-makers that are just starting up. The initiatives Governor Cuomo is proposing to bolster New York State’s beverage industry will help to ensure that small businesses can continue to grow. Not only do these proposals encourage entrepreneurship, but they help businesses succeed and stay here in New York.”

Additional actions and efforts being undertaken to support the continued growth of the farm-based beverage industry are detailed below. For further information on the 2014 Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, click here.

MWBE Expos announced

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) Opportunities Expo events, hosted by New York State, in Western New York, the North Country, and Mid-Hudson regions. These one-stop-shopping workshops will directly connect certified firms with contractors and various New York State agencies to increase opportunities for business growth and job creation.

“If we’re going to rebuild the Empire State, we need to make sure the doors of economic opportunity are open to all,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Opportunities Expo is one of the many ways we’re connecting minority and women-owned businesses to up to $1 billion in contracting opportunities. I encourage businesses to take part in their nearest Expo and learn more about the benefits of doing business with the State of New York.”

In addition to providing the opportunity to meet procurement officers, the event will also feature workshops and panel discussions to deliver important information about New York State MWBE certification and business development resources, as well as basic government procurement training. The Expo will also include the New York State MWBE BOOT CAMP, which will bring together local resources available for MWBE firms, such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, Professional & Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) center network in the region.

MWBE Opportunities Expos, sponsored by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development and local State partners, will be held as follows:

Western New York
Thursday, April 24, 2014
University of Buffalo – Allen Hall

North Country
Thursday, May 8, 2014
SUNY Plattsburgh – Warren Ballroom, Angell College Center

In addition, an Expo is scheduled to take place in the Mid-Hudson region this summer. For more information, please email expo@nysmwbeforum.org.

President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development Kenneth Adams said, “The Opportunities Expo features a full day program of networking opportunities and panel discussions that will not only engage potential minority and women owned business owners but will also be helpful to actively certified firms. By continuing to focus our efforts on increasing the MWBE utilization in State contracts, we will help these small businesses grow and create jobs in our local communities which, in turn, will benefit all of New York State.”

More than a dozen State agencies and authorities involved in the region’s business community, through the Regional Councils and other initiatives, will participate in panel discussions and workshops including:

  • Capacity Builder Workshop – Leveraging MWBE Certification with Business Development support
  • Regional Council Awards, Round 2 & 3 – Opportunities for MWBE subcontractors
  • Review of “new” New York State Contract Reporter and New York State Contract Compliance System and what they mean to your business

For more information, visit Governor Cuomo’s website.

Business Council president and CEO reiterates support for Common Core and Commissioner King

On Saturday, New York’s statewide teachers union formally withdrew its support of the Common Core Learning Standards as implemented in the state and voted no confidence in state education commissioner John King.

Responding to the no confidence vote, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council said today, “Commissioner King is an agent for positive change and those advocating for such change are often met with resistance and hostility. New York is fortunate to have someone of Commissioner King’s character and dedication to children, despite all the resistance from the entrenched interest groups.”

The Business Council remains committed to the higher academic standards contained in the Common Core because, by the state’s own measure, just 35 percent of students who graduate high school are ready for college, post-secondary training or the workforce.

The Common Core Standards have been the subject of significant misinformation not only in New York but in other states. Responding to this, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also supports the Common Core, has released this video to help business people better understand the value of The Common Core standards.

Corning Named 2014 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year

Business Council member Corning Incorporated has been named an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its strategic energy management program.

“Innovative strategies in energy management are some of the most cost-effective ways to improve the bottom line in the places we work, shop, and play,” EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said. “Corning’s leadership in energy management supports the well-being of American families while also fighting climate change.”

Corning was recognized for adopting a continuous energy management strategy in all of its buildings and plants. Corning is a global company, with U.S. operations consisting of nearly 50 facilities in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

“Every one of our facilities has contributed to this effort, which has lowered both our energy usage and our costs,” said Kirk Gregg, Corning’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer.  “Our approach helps us manage greenhouse gas emissions, and the money we save on energy enhances our ability to make strategic investments in Corning’s future.”

Corning’s Global Energy Management program, led by Patrick Jackson, develops and implements Corning’s energy policies. Since its launch in 2006, GEM’s management practices have saved Corning more than $328 million in cumulative energy costs.

“We’ve received significant support from leadership and an amazing effort from all of our team members and plant managers,” Jackson said. “This success has only been possible because everyone in the corporation has bought into the idea that we can be world-class when it comes to energy efficiency.”

The 2014 Partner of the Year Awards are given to a variety of organizations to recognize their contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through superior energy efficiency. The award winners are selected from the 16,000 partners that participate in the ENERGY STAR program and will be recognized in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2014.

Through 2013, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved $297 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.