Monthly Archives: June 2014

Behan Communications wins PR industry’s highest honor

BehanBusiness Council member Behan Communications, Inc., has won the Public Relations Society of America’s prestigious Silver Anvil Award for their “Vote Yes for the Adirondacks” campaign. John Brodt, vice president and partner in the firm, accepted the award, which is the highest honor in the public relations industry in the United States.

“Vote Yes for the Adirondacks,” was the successful 2013 statewide ballot campaign Brodt directed to persuade New York voters to approve Proposition 5, a swap of 1,500 acres of private land for 200 acres of Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park. The land exchange protected 100 rural jobs at Behan client NYCO Minerals Inc., an Adirondack mining company, and expanded the Adirondack Forest Preserve with lands rich in fishing and hiking opportunities.

The Behan firm organized a statewide, bipartisan coalition of business, labor, environmental and local government groups; mounted a television, radio and online advertising campaign in the New York metropolitan area; and secured 16 newspaper editorial endorsements. On Election Day, Proposition 5 won in 53 New York counties and by a margin of more than 130,000 votes.

Behan Communications is the largest public relations firm in New York’s Capital Region. The firm specializes in public affairs, strategic and crisis communications, and serves clients across New York and the Northeast. The firm has major practices in the environmental, energy, manufacturing, financial services, innovation, health care and non-profit sectors.

Brodt joined Behan Communications in 1990 after working as a newspaper journalist. He handles media, community, employee and government relations for corporate clients, including health care providers, manufacturers and financial institutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Utica College of Syracuse University and an associate’s degree in liberal arts from SUNY Adirondack.

He is a member of the boards of directors of Amanda’s House, Inc., and the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce.

High Achievement NY weighs in on teacher evaluations

The leaders of High Achievement New York today released the following statement regarding the current conversation in Albany about making changes and delays to the teacher tests and evaluations created by New York State.

High Achievement New York Executive Director Frank Thomas said:

“The charged dialogue around evaluations is obscuring the fact that the tests New York State has developed are vital in measuring both our students’ growth and teachers’ effectiveness.  We know that testing cannot tell us everything about how students learn.  However, these newer tests require students to demonstrate their ability to think critically and solve real world problems, not just fill in bubbles. Given that far too many NY students leave high school unprepared for their next steps, we can and must do better for every student across the state.  These tests are a step in the right direction.

“They deliver the objective standards to make sure our teachers are equipping students with the skills they need to be successful as they move forward in school, and later, in their careers. The standards provide a concrete, high standard that ensures every student in New York State receives a high-quality education, and these tests help measure our success in achieving that goal. No matter how Albany acts on teacher and principal appraisal, we cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of high expectations for all students and a high-quality test that measures those standards objectively.”

High Achievement New York gives 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.

Members of High Achievement New York include:

  • Albany Colonie Chamber of Commerce
  • American Achieves
  • American Association of University Women – New York
  • Association for a Better New York
  • Buffalo Education Reform
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Buffalo Urban League
  • Business Council of New York State
  • Business Council of Westchester
  • Center for American Progress
  • Center for Hispanic Families and Children
  • Chautaqua County Chamber of Commerce
  • Council For a Strong America
  • Commerce Chenango
  • E4E
  • Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
  • National Council of La Raza
  • New York Urban League
  • Ostego County Chamber of Commerce
  • Parent Power Project – Rochester
  • Printing Industries Alliance
  • Queens Chamber of Commerce
  • StudentsFirst NY
  • Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
  • UCOMM Communications

Entergy in the “Editorial Spotlight”

Business Council member Entergy participated in an “Editorial Spotlight” with The Journal News last week to discuss the Indian Point Energy Center’s operations and license renewal.

Entergy Wholesale Commodities President Bill Mohl, Vice President of Operations License Renewal Fred Dacimo, Vice President of External Affairs Michael Twomey, and Communications Manager Jerry Nappi discussed the importance of Indian Point’s continued operation and the economic, environmental, and grid reliability benefits it provides for New York City and State. They highlighted Indian Point’s value as a vital economic engine and its critical function in helping to stabilize power costs, enhance grid reliability, and improve air quality in the region.

Mohl stressed that three key objectives must be met in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of an electric system: reliable service to customers; environmental sustainability; and economic sustainability for both customers and investors. He noted Indian Point’s essential role in helping the state meet those goals.

Entergy is in the 8th year of an open and very comprehensive license renewal process. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has recommended that Indian Point’s operating license be renewed for another 20 years following comprehensive and detailed safety and environmental reviews.

Spokesman Jerry Nappi said, “We believe the continued operation of existing nuclear facilities, aligns with New York’s key principles, such as the need for an energy source that is safe, clean and reliable. Nuclear power generated by Indian Point provides 25 percent of the electricity for New York City and Westchester with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions.”

In addressing the topic of the plant’s environmental impact, Entergy officials said they are confident that Indian Point’s operations are fully protective of the Hudson River, and that claims to the contrary are not supported by the facts or the evidence. They noted that more than $100 million has been spent on studying the Hudson River’s ecosystem for more than 25 years and determined that Indian Point has no harmful impact on adult fish populations in the Hudson River.

Entergy stressed its proven track record of operating the Indian Point plants safely and re-affirmed its commitment to working closely with the NRC to ensure the continued safety of the facility.

To watch the webcast of Entergy’s meeting with The Journal News, please click here.


Utility Consumer Advocate not needed in New York

As the legislative session draws to a close, an effort is underway to create a state office of the Utility Consumer Advocate. In an op-ed published in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council and Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate say, “there is simply no guarantee that creating this new entity will actually reduce our utility rates.”

“This new office will not be allowed to speak out on the real problems faced by energy ratepayers: the state-imposed taxes, fees and assessments on every single utility bill that are paid each month. Further, there is no plan on how to cover the cost of the Consumer Advocate. If history repeats itself, ratepayers will bear the burden via another tax or fee.”

To read the complete op-ed, visit click here.

New York’s Mighty Middle Market

New York state is home to one of the nation’s largest middle market sectors, representing 10,000 businesses. Defined as companies with annual revenues of $10 million to $1 billion, this economic engine employs more than 4 million New Yorkers and generates approximately $500 billion in annual revenue — nearly 20 percent of total state revenue.

Nationally, the middle market reported a year-over-year increase in revenue growth of 6.5 percent for the past 12 months and added workers to the payroll, according to the National Center for the Middle Market’s Middle Market Indicator.

Despite the impact of the “Mighty Middle Market” on the state’s economy, this sector is frequently overlooked in discussions about economic growth.

The Business Council of New York State and the Albany-based Center for Economic Growth will convene representatives of middle market companies to explore the triggering events and game-changing strategies that propel middle market companies into the ranks of sustained growth firms.

Featuring a keynote discussion led by Thomas A. Stewart, executive director of the National Center for the Middle Market, and a panel of local middle market experts, attendees will learn about the triggering events and game-changing strategies that propel middle market companies into the ranks of sustained growth firms.

Panelists will include: David William Davis, president and COO of Simmons Machine Tool Corporation; Roger A. Hannay, chairman of the board of Hannay Reels, Inc.; and Thomas D. O’Connor, Jr., chairman and CEO of Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc.

Founded out of a multiyear partnership between GE Capital and The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, the National Center for the Middle Market exists for a single purpose: serving as the foremost expert and leading resource on the U.S. middle market economy. In this capacity, the Center provides critical insights and analyses that drive growth, increase competitiveness, create jobs for the middle market, and, ultimately, the overall U.S. economy.

The event will be held on Tuesday, July 1, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center, 660 Albany Shaker Road, Albany, New York, 12211.

There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required.  Register here.

Leadership forum on energy policy

Darren - Energy - Graphic

On June 26, The Business Council of New York State, Inc., Marist College, and the Hudson Renewable Energy Institute, will host the 2014 Renewable Energy Conference — A Leadership Forum on Energy Policy: Changing Federal and State Energy Markets and Impacts on Renewable Supply. This event will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., on the Marist College campus in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The Business Council is partnering with Marist College and the Hudson Renewable Energy Institute for the first time, on the third year of the conference. The conference will examine the impact of technology; federal and state policy changes on the competitive bulk electric market place, and the deployment and pricing of renewable supply sources.

Leading experts in the field of energy will be featured and the conference will feature concurrent sessions with the latest industry information.

Energy and Finance Chairman for New York State, Richard Kauffman, a prominent energy policy expert, will be the keynote speaker. The lunch speaker will be Wind Turbine Product General Manager for GE Energy Keith Longtin.

Afternoon sessions feature: The Impacts of Changing Electric Energy Markets as well as the Practical Market Applications for Renewable Energy.

Conference sponsors include BQ Energy, LLC; Taylor Biomass Energy, LLC; and Advanced Control Systems. Exhibitors are Advanced Climate Technologies, LLC; Courtney Strong Inc.; NYSERDA and Taylor Biomass Energy, LLC.

For more information or to register visit the events page on The Business Council website.

Higher Ed for Higher Standards

A new national coalition of college and university leaders —Higher Ed for Higher Standards — intends to support the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards and counter misinformation.

Speaking about the coalition SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said that remediation for newly arrived college students places an unnecessary burden on higher education institutions. “We have too many universities across the country … that are re-teaching what students were supposed or expected to learn in middle school or high school. As a consequence, our energy is not adequately directed toward college completion when we’re so busy catching people up.”

Zimpher also said Higher Ed for Higher Standards will dispel misinformation about how the Common Core standards were developed and whether they’ll better prepare students for college and careers.

Zimpher condemned what has emerged as a conservative and libertarian argument against the standards: that they are being forced on states by the federal government, saying “To generally confuse the public into thinking this is somehow mandated out of this administration or the federal government, that’s fundamentally misleading.”

Zimpher said there has also been backlash against the Common Core because of the standards’ perceived effect on teacher evaluations and certification processes.

“That is not a problem of the standards. That is a problem in the implementation schedule,” Zimpher said. “We want to concede that we can help get that right, but again, to hold on to the standards. I am of the opinion that if we let these standards go, it will be decades before we will be able to rally 45 of 50 states to again unite behind common standards,” she said.

New York teachers voice common core support in new video

High Achievement New York, a broad-based New York coalition of teachers, parents, school administrators, civil rights advocates, community leaders, and business organizations, formed earlier this year to build support for the Common Core Learning Standards, has launched a series of teacher-testimonial videos on the need for the educational standards.

The testimonial videos capture teachers from across New York state describing the standards in their own words, what they mean to them, and correcting some misleading information,” according to a statement from High Achievement New York.

High Achievement New York members include, The Business Council of New York State, chambers of commerce from the counties of Albany, Otsego, Tompkins and Chautaqua as well as the American Association of University Women, the state Urban League and others.

First wave of businesses under START-UP NY



Today Governor Andrew Cuomo  announced that 12 businesses will expand or locate in New York as a result of START-UP NY program, which creates tax-free areas associated with colleges and universities across the state. The 12 businesses will invest $50 million and create nearly 400 new jobs in tax-free areas.

Governor Cuomo said. “Just months after the program’s launch, we are excited to announce the first businesses to participate in START-UP NY, which will bring nearly 400 new jobs and $50 million in investment to communities in Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, and New York City.”

Business Council members involved include the University at Buffalo, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “The jobs and investments coming to Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca and Brooklyn will have an immediate economic impact and the participating companies will operate in a completely tax-free environment, which will enable them to create even more jobs and economic opportunities for New Yorkers in the future.”

“With these university-industry partnerships now in place, SUNY students and faculty will have unprecedented access to emerging, high-tech fields that will enhance the value of a SUNY education while creating jobs and driving our state economy,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.

“START-UP NY is a very innovative way to connect the strengths of a major research university, like the University at Buffalo, with the expertise and energy of entrepreneurs and businesspeople,” said Satish K. Tripathi, president, University at Buffalo.

Bill Destler, president, Rochester Institute of Technology said, “With this program, RIT is able to partner with one of its alumni… [It] will bring tremendous opportunities to retain more of our talented graduates in Upstate New York, create additional co-op and employment opportunities for RIT students and graduates, as well as set an example for other entrepreneurs that New York – and Rochester – are indeed ‘Open for Business.”

“We are thrilled to be among the first university-company partnerships getting off the ground through START-UP NY,” said David Skorton, president, Cornell University. “The employment of 65 people in advanced manufacturing and investment of over $37 million in capital equipment to support that growth by private investors represents a significant positive impact on the region’s economy.”

“START-UP NY represents a major opportunity to advance the biotechnology enterprise in the New York City region at SUNY Downstate,” said Dr. John F. Williams, president, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

START-UP NY seeks to accelerate entrepreneurialism and job creation across the state on a large scale, with a particular focus on Upstate New York. Under the program, businesses have the opportunity to operate tax-free for 10 years on eligible land and space. Businesses partner with the higher education institutions and are able to access industry experts and advanced research laboratories.

Interested colleges and universities draft campus plans that identify their goals for the program and the space that they are proposing to designate as tax-free, as well as the types of businesses and industries that they are seeking to attract through the initiative.

To date, 26 schools have been approved for START-UP NY, establishing more than 130 tax-free areas for new or expanding businesses. For more information visit START-UP NY’s website


Business Council Members appointed to CREDC

The Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC) appointed eight new members, including Business Council members Finch Paper President and CEO Deba Mukherjee and Proctor’s Theatre Chief Executive Officer Philip Morris.

Mukherjee and Morris will work with other CREDC members to build continue to advance the region’s economic growth and job creation.

Dr. Deba Mukherjee joined Finch Paper as President in 2013 after a 15-year career with paper manufacturer P.H. Glatfelter. He currently serves on The Business Council’s Board of Directors. At P.H Glatfelter, he earned a steady series of promotions including specialty products manager in 2000; North American general sales manager, engineered products in 2002; director, engineered products in 2004; division vice president, engineered and converting products in 2006; and vice president and general manager, specialty papers in 2008. In his most recent role, Dr. Mukherjee led a business unit with more than $900 million in worldwide sales and six North American locations.

Philip Morris currently serves as the CEO of Proctors Theater in Schenectady. At 22 he became Arts Council Director of Jamestown, N.Y., where he discovered firsthand how art and community co-evolve. He launched his first capital campaign to save the local Reg Lenna Civic Center, a 1,200-seat theatre on the cusp of ruin. Today, patrons attending Proctor’s generate over $45 million each year for local businesses, and the theater has become the most densely programmed arts space for a hundred and fifty miles in any direction.

For more information on the Capital District Region Economic Development Council visit the CREDC website.