Monthly Archives: May 2014

Global trade and foreign investment forum planned

Making global trade and foreign investment a sustainable driver of New York’s economy will be examined at a June 17 forum presented by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. and The Business Council of New York State, Inc. as part of the Opportunity Upstate series.

The forum, Global Trade and Foreign Investment: Key Elements of a Vibrant Upstate Economy of the Future, will held be at The Business Council’s offices at 12 Corporate Woods Blvd. in Albany from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Attendance at the forum is free, but registration is required by clicking here.

New York has the third largest exporting economy in the nation and recent estimates show that one-third of Upstate manufacturers already trade globally.

Expanding upon this base creates an opportunity for upstate businesses, especially small- and mid-sized businesses, to increase sales and operating efficiency resulting in job creation for communities.

The forum will bring together business and economic development policy experts and practitioners who will examine:

• Trends in global trade, emerging and developed markets and how these trends could impact the economy of Upstate New York.
• The current role of global trade and foreign investment in Upstate New York.
• Regional and state initiatives now underway.
• The need to make global trade and foreign investment a more integrated, sustainable part of a competitive Upstate economy in the years to come.

Participants will include, Kenneth Adams, president & CEO of Empire State Development and commissioner of the New York State Department of Economic Development, Jose Rasco, managing director and head of investment strategy for HSBC Private Bank, and representatives of regional economic development organizations including the North Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and the Center for Economic Growth. They will discuss programs, strategies, resources and best practices for growing foreign trade and investment.

Commissioner Adams will provide an overview of the state’s efforts to promote global trade, attract foreign investment, and help restore Upstate New York as a leader in foreign trade and investment through Global NY, START-UP NY and the “go global” emphasis of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

Mr. Rasco will provide an international view on trade, investment data and trends focusing on how these could impact New York state as a whole and Upstate in particular.

Opportunity Upstate is an initiative of The Public Policy Institute of New York State and The Business Council of New York State that focuses on the region’s most pressing issues that have impeded its economic growth along with some its most valuable assets that are or have the potential to be key economic drivers. Through a series of forums and an examination of issues like taxes and excessive business regulation, and assets like manufacturing, innovation, global trade and foreign investment and education, PPI and The Business Council will prepare recommendations and propose changes needed to achieve the ideal upstate business climate.

BlueCross BlueShield grows jobs in Buffalo


BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York will move 40 jobs from other company operations outside of New York State to its Buffalo headquarters, President and CEO David W. Anderson announced today.

Anderson said the jobs will be in the bargaining unit of Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Local 153, AFL-CIO. He made the announcement today at a news conference attended by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and local labor leaders.

“These are good-paying, high-benefit jobs in our customer service and administrative areas where we’re seeing growth as the health insurance model shifts to a more direct consumer relationship,” Anderson said. “I’m pleased that we are able to fill this need with positions in Buffalo, adding to our 1,400 associates already here, and helping the region add sustainable jobs.”

BlueCross BlueShield announced April 27 that it had reached a new three-year collective-bargaining agreement with its 350 employees represented by OPEIU Local 153 and that it was ratified by the membership with an overwhelming majority vote.

The added jobs increase bargaining unit membership with 40 new employees. Union members compose about 24 percent of the health plan’s overall workforce.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, a division of HealthNow New York Inc., is the region’s largest health insurer, with 1,800 employees in five locations, serving  800,000 members. It is the only health insurance provider in the region with a unionized workforce and has a 58-year relationship with OPEIU. BlueCross BlueShield provides the full spectrum of health-care services and innovative funding arrangements.

Business Council end of session priorities

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. unveiled its end of session priorities today, including key issues of concern to The Business Council’s diverse membership base and a broad public policy agenda that impacts businesses in New York.

“Safeguarding business interests in our state is the only way New York’s economy will grow, creating more jobs and stronger communities,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Our agenda focuses on creating solutions to issues hindering business growth and to create a vibrant economy.”

The Business Council’s extensive agenda covers a wide range of employer-led issues. Among the most pressing priorities:

  • New York’s antiquated Scaffold Law increases liability costs for business and government alike. A comparative negligence standard will reduce insurance costs and promote additional public and private capital investments.
  • Eliminating the Wage Theft Prevention Act’s annual wage notice provision’; opposing increased pay and benefit mandates on private sector employers; adopting reasonable standards regarding pay equity and workplace accommodations.
  • Supporting the extension and reform of the brownfield cleanup program and its remediation and redevelopment tax credits, without an extension, projects begun under the current program risk not being completed if the program is allowed to expire.
  • Opposing Campaign Finance Reform proposals that would further limit business’ participation in the political process as well as proposals to adopt public campaign financing or use enforcement-related revenues to fund public campaigns.

For more on The Business Council’s legislative priorities, visit

Opiod abuse and workers’ comp

Human Resource Executive Online recently published an article highlighting a study showing little drop in workers’ comp related opiod abuse. Often prescribed by doctors for pain after an injury, long-term use can lead to addiction and result in a worker needing extended leave in addition to other medical problems.

According to the article, a new study — Longer-Term Use of Opioids, 2nd Edition — from the Workers Compensation Research Institute finds that, “so far, there appears to have been minimal reduction in the prevalence of longer-term opioid use in the 25 states that were studied.”

According to Lev Ginsburg, The Business Council’s director of government affairs, the business community has warned lawmakers that policies in the workers’ compensation system, and the health system in general, were leading to opioid addiction and other long-term health detriments among employees.

While programs like I-STOP in New York have worked to combat opioid abuse, an unforeseen consequence is that the use of heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available, has risen.

Ginsburg says, “Negative outcomes can result from some health policies. There is little debate that insurance mandates lead to the overuse of healthcare and lead to ballooning costs, but also, sometimes to unhealthy results.”

Business Council members featured in list of Best Corporate Citizens

Many members of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. were recently featured on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List.

The companies were assessed on nearly 300 performance indicators including corporate governance, finance, environment, employee relations and philanthropy. Entergy Corporation, a Business Council member, engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations, was one of the honorees.

“We are honored to be counted among the country’s best companies in going the extra mile for our stakeholders,” said Entergy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault. “This recognition is a testament to the enduring commitment of everyone – from our board of directors to our front-line employees – to doing the right thing.”

Other Business Council members honored along with Entergy include Microsoft Corporation, Coca-Cola Co., Walt Disney Co., United Parcel Services, Inc., General Electric Co., Altria Group Inc., International Paper Co., Xerox Corp., AT&T, Inc., JP Morgan Chase & Co., Eli Lilly & Co., Verizon Communications, Fedex Corp., Consolidated Edison, Inc.

Click here for the full listing of Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens.

Best Companies to Work for in New York

The New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS- SHRM) honored 60 New York State employers, including ten Business Council members on May 6 at its 2014 Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards.

Business Council members honored included Broadridge Financial Solutions; Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan; Edelman; Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc.; HR Works, Inc.; Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union; LeadingAge New York; The Pike Company; Ryan; SeaComm Federal Credit Union.

The seventh annual Best Companies to Work for in New York list is comprised of 32 small/medium-sized employers and 28 large employers.

Created in 2007, these celebrated annual awards are part of a distinctive program that evaluates and ranks the best places of employment. This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in New York, whose practices benefit the State’s businesses, economy, and workforce.

The 2014 Best Companies to Work for in New York State Awards are presented by two major sponsors: Jackson Lewis, LLP and Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP®), as well as five supporting sponsors: Acorda Therapeutics; Anchin, Block and Anchin LLP; Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.; DigitasLBi; MBMS, Inc. and WellnessRebates LLC.

The program is a partnership of NYS- SHRM, The Business Council of New York State, Best Companies Group and Journal Multimedia Corporation. NYS-SHRM is an affiliate of the national Society for Human Resources Management, the world’s largest association devoted to human resources, serving the needs of and advancing the interests of the HR profession.

For more information about the Best Companies to Work for in New York State program, or to find out about participating in the 2015 program, visit

High Achievement New York launches

A new statewide education organization launched recently to support the implementation of a set of clear, consistent educational standards in New York State – a step that will better prepare students regardless of background for college and successful careers.

The members and leadership of High Achievement New York will:

  • Engage parents, teachers, students and business leaders across the state to support the implementation and preservation of the New York State Learning Standards;
  • Educate and mobilize New Yorkers across the state who support the standards; and
  • Drive the public discussion of higher educational standards by generating local press coverage and social media activities tailored to key decision-maker


Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State said, “Business leaders – large and small – understand the importance of a skilled work force. Our businesses cannot succeed without one. That’s why we support the Common Core as an effective means to address these issues and set real-world standards for our schools. These higher standards will help us prepare our students for an America that maintains its place as an economic leader in the 21st century.”

High Achievement New York will give New Yorkers an organized platform to support the Common Core, as well as provide information on what the new standards will mean for our children and the future of New York State. It will seek to provide community and educator driven solutions to issues that arise as Common Core is integrated into local schools. The group will specifically target parents who want their kids to be prepared for college and careers to business owners who understand first-hand the need for a skilled work force.

With Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature moving forward in the recently-passed budget, the leaders of High Achievement New York urge parents, teachers and business leaders to go to  and support the effort to make sure every student has access to a quality education.

Ecology and Environment receives ACEC award for engineering

Business Council member Ecology and Environment Engineering, P.C. (E & E) has been awarded the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC’s) prestigious Diamond Award in the water resources category for the firm’s pioneering work on the Town of Carroll Groundwater Treatment System for Frewsburg Water District (FWD) public water supply well.

Diamond Awards honor the work of ACEC New York member engineering firms for exceptional projects, both within New York State and around the world. Projects are judged on complexity, future value to the engineering profession, original or innovative application of new or existing technologies, and meeting or exceeding client needs.

The Town of Carroll project was the first of its kind for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The project focused on remediating the groundwater migrating from the old landfill and providing public drinking water. The Chautauqua County Department of Health (CCDOH) had required the FWD to discontinue the use of their Public Well Number 5 (PW-5) because the well was drawing water that was part of the contaminated plume from the old Carroll Town Landfill site. The Record of Decision for the Carroll Town Landfill site required the treatment of the groundwater contamination plume.

NYSDEC tasked E & E with designing a treatment system at PW-5 and using it as the extraction well. The design needed to meet the drinking water standards of the New York State Department of Health and CCDOH so that the well could be made available to the FWD again. Frewsburg had tried to locate another well within their village but could not find a suitable location with sufficient flow to meet the system demands.

The system as designed removes the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to meet drinking water standards and then performs standard NYSDOH required bacterial treatment of the water. All water is tested and certified in accordance with NYSDOH standards before it is pumped into the water system for the village of Frewsburg. The treatment plant is also designed to discharge water, after the VOCs are removed, to the Conewango Creek when the FWD system demands do not need water from this well.

New scholarship program encourages students to pursue STEM

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which will encourage the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to the top ten percent of students in every New York high school if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.

“By helping New York’s best and brightest students launch their careers in-state and in STEM fields, we are laying the foundation for a truly world-class workforce,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program offers a tremendous step forward to the top ten percent of our high school students, and it will open doors not just for them but for our State as a whole. I am proud to launch the STEM Incentive Program this year, and I encourage all eligible students to apply today.”

“Across New York, STEM careers are growing 2.5 times faster than those in any other field, and the Governor’s incentive program is a valuable opportunity for the next generation to fill the gap,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “The program gives top-of-their-class students a world-class education in high-need fields while creating a pipeline of elite talent for the state where our workforce and economy need it the most. At SUNY, we are looking forward to getting this innovative program up and running.”

“Innovative programs like the STEM Incentive Awards will help students compete in academic fields essential to the future of our state and nation,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly.

To be eligible for a STEM award, a student must be attending a New York State high school and be ranked in the top ten percent of his/her graduating class (beginning with the 2014 graduating class), and enroll in full-time study at a SUNY or CUNY college in the fall term following high school graduation. Award details and applications are available at the New York State Higher Education Services (HESC) website at Applications are due August 15, 2014.

The Business Council supports education reform initiatives focusing on Common Core standards, P-TECH schools and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) which are a good start in bridging the gap between education and the skills needed in the workforce.



New York City HR Legislative Briefing

MinnickThe Business Council will host an HR Legislative Briefing at member company Amida Care in  New York City on May 14 from 8:45 — 11:00 a.m.

With less than two months left to the 2014 legislative session in Albany, The Business Council’s Director of Government Affairs Tom Minnick will cover current HR-related legislative issues and recap the 2013 legislative session.

Topics include repealing the annual employee notice requirement of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, the  “bullying” bill, mandated time off proposals, proposed limits on background checking for new employees, pay equity, paid family leave, and more.

This briefing is approved for 2 Strategic Business credits from the HR Certification Institute. There is no charge for Business Council members attending this briefing. Amida Care will provide a complimentary light breakfast.

For more information or to register visit The Business Council website.