Monthly Archives: August 2014

Higher graduation rates! Who cares?

In an editorial, The Middletown Times Herald-Record asks the question, “Who cares about higher graduation rates?”

“If the rate meant something, it would be worth celebrating. But if all it means is that more 18-year-olds won’t be back the following fall, then there’s not much to talk about.

“The trouble is, as a story in the Times Herald-Record clearly illustrated on Monday, that graduation from high school no longer proves anything. It gives students a credential to put on an application. But any employer who digs a bit deeper will find that the diploma that used to mean something now is not necessarily an indication that the person holding it is ready to take on the challenges of the working world.

“We know that because far too many of those with those diplomas are not ready to take on the challenges of the world of higher education either.

“As the story explained, more than half of the students arriving for the fall semester of local community colleges fall short of the minimum requirements on placement tests.”

The editorial points out the added costs those students and their families incur when they have to pay tuition to revisit subjects “they allegedly mastered to get a high school diploma.”

“This is not a new problem, and many had hoped that a more rigorous, standard curriculum would help. But the solution that was offered, the Common Core, had the kind of problems that any serious effort in reform is bound to have and that was enough to turn it into a tool for many manipulative politicians.”

To read the complete editorial, please click here.


Verizon to invest $40 million in on-site green energy

Business Council member Verizon has announced that it will invest nearly $40 million to expand the on-site green energy program that it launched in 2013.  The investment puts the company on track to become the top solar-power producer among all U.S. communications companies, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. trade association for companies that research, manufacture, distribute, finance and build solar projects domestically and abroad.

This year, Verizon will install 10.2 megawatts of new solar power systems at eight Verizon network facilities in five states, including New York, nearly doubling the amount of renewable power generated by solar energy systems installed at six Verizon facilities last year.  The other four states where the expansion is taking place are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

To learn more about Verizon’s investment in on-site green energy, please click here.

Manufacturers: New ozone regulations could tank U.S. economy

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is gearing up to take action on a major policy initiative coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it says could be the most expensive regulation in the nation’s history, possibly tanking the economy and costing jobs at a time when businesses, manufacturers and families are making a comeback.

Later this year, the Environmental Protection Agency will decide whether it should tighten the air-quality standard for ground-level ozone.

Just a few years ago, in 2008, the EPA set ozone standards for air quality at 75 parts per billion (ppb). And just recently the second-highest court in the land held that the current standard protects public health.

Yet even before states have fully implemented the 2008 standard, the EPA is expected to propose revising it to as low as 60 ppb. In 2010, the EPA estimated that the annual compliance costs for a 60-ppb standard would be $90 billion in 2020.

But, according to a new study commissioned by the NAM and conducted by NERA Economic Consulting, the new ozone standard could cost Americans $270 billion annually, put millions of jobs at risk, and drastically increase energy prices for consumers and manufacturers.

In an op-ed published recently by the Wall Street Journal, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM states, “No single regulation has come close to rendering this level of self-inflicted and ultimately unnecessary economic pain. Remarkably, the EPA has only identified one-third of the controls and technologies that companies and state governments will need to implement to meet the new standard.”
Click here for more information on this issue from the NAM website.

Hillside Children’s Center Receives $1.1M Innovation Grant

Business Council member Hillside Family of Agencies has been awarded a $1.1 million grant from the New York State Department of Health for its affiliate, Hillside Children’s Center, to pilot a Proactive Respite Services model that will provide access to planned and emergency overnight respite care for 20-30 of the highest need Monroe County and Western New York youth in Hillside’s Home and Community Based Services program. The program aims to keep high-needs children and youth out of residential care and in their homes by providing families with short term periods of respite from the day to day demands of meeting their children’s behavioral health needs.

Hillside was one of 54 agencies awarded funding through the Department’s Balancing Incentive Program (BIP), and is one of the top four agencies receiving the largest award statewide.

The BIP Innovation Fund is designed to engage New York’s broad network of providers, advocates, and community leaders in developing systemic improvements that address barriers encountered when providing community-based long term supports and services across all populations of Medicaid beneficiaries in the State. The BIP Innovation Fund promotes provider expertise by offering eligible entities the opportunity to create solutions that impact the long term supports and service delivery systems required to keep high need children and adults out of unnecessary institutional placements.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the New York State Department of Health,” said Hillside Family of Agencies president and CEO, Dennis Richardson. “Respite as an alternative to hospitalization and emergency department use has been identified as a high need across New York State. Hillside Children’s Center is looking forward to providing planned and emergency respite for high needs children and youth in Monroe County and Western New York while also working to help save the state financial resources long term.”

Role of business in education to be topic at Business Council Annual Meeting

Many jobs in New York go unfilled because employers are unable to find highly skilled workers. IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and President, IBM International Foundation Stanley S. Litow and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will discuss the importance of public-private partnerships and high education standards to ensure that students will be able to compete in college and the work world upon graduation from high school, during one of several panel discussions at The Business Council of New York State Annual Meeting.

The discussion, “The Role of Business in Education,” will take place on September 18 at 10 a.m. at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, NY.

Businesses in New York state are projected to create one million jobs that require more education than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree, between 2008 and 2018, according to data compiled by Jobs for the Future and The Business Council.

Referred to by the Brookings Institute as “the hidden STEM economy,” middle-skill jobs will make up 39 percent — the largest portion— of all jobs in New York state by 2018. Jobs requiring a four-year college degree will comprise 34 percent of the workforce while low-skill jobs, those requiring a high school diploma or less, will make up the remaining 27 percent of the workforce.

The data also shows that this gap will continue to widen as the supply of recent graduates prepared for these jobs is projected to decline by 2025.

“The business community recognizes the urgency in closing the middle skills gap, and that jobs in the STEM field play a major role in driving the state’s economy. This data shows that New York’s growing STEM economy will be stifled if we do not find innovative new ways to help schools better prepare graduates to fill good paying middle-skill jobs,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council.

For more information on The Business Council’s Annual Meeting please visit:


Rochester D&C: Stay the course on Common Core

The Common Core Learning Standards are a “necessary step toward ensuring success for New York students,” The Editorial Board of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle said in an editorial published today.

Excerpts from the editorial:

“While newly released results of state-mandated Common Core math and English exams are nothing to pop champagne corks about, neither are they cause for an educational about-face. On the contrary. Educators at the state and local levels must reaffirm their commitment to helping New York’s students master the new, more-rigid curricula.

“They [the Common Core] have the support of the state Business Council and the national Chamber of Commerce because such groups understand the value of a highly educated workforce.

“There is still a long road to travel. But students took a step in the right direction this past year — and that was amid the substantial headwinds of vocal opposition. Think what they could accomplish with a tailwind,” the editorial concluded.

Business Council members partner to design nation’s first micro grid

Two Business Council members, National Grid and Clarkson University, are partnering to design an underground electric microgrid in Potsdam, NY. In an emergency, the microgrid will operate as an electrical island independent of the main power grid, and serve the critical loads with local generation. It will use existing natural gas, fuel oil, and hydroelectric generation, as well as a planned two megawatt photovoltaic installation.

When completed, the microgrid design will be the first of its kind, providing resilient electric power service for essential community services during an emergency, and optimizing operating efficiencies under normal conditions. The Potsdam microgrid will serve as a model for other installations around New York and across the United States.

The project, made possible through a $381,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), was recently announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Other partners in the initiative include GE Energy Consulting, Nova Energy Specialists, the Village of Potsdam, SUNY Potsdam, and the Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

In an emergency, the microgrid will operate as an electrical island independent of the main power grid, and serve the critical loads with local generation.
In an emergency, the microgrid will operate as an electrical island independent of the main power grid, and serve the critical loads with local generation.

100,000 Jobs Mission reports more than 160,000 U.S. Military Veterans hired

Companies in the 100,000 Jobs Mission hired a total of 161,752 U.S. military veterans through the second quarter of 2014.  In addition, the coalition has grown from 11 founding members to 165 companies that represent almost every industry in the American economy.

“More companies have recognized the value of our coalition and are stepping up to make a difference in the lives of our nation’s veterans,” said Maureen Casey, Director of Military and Veterans Affairs for Business Council member JPMorgan Chase, a founding member of the Coalition.

The 100,000 Jobs Mission is committed to hiring veterans, but also to helping servicemembers through their transition back to civilian life.  The recently published, “Transition Field Guide for Veterans: Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship after Service,” is a resource that helps transitioning military members and veterans develop post-military career plans long before they separate from the service.  The Transition Field Guide outlines four main paths toward meaningful employment: immediately entering the job market, pursuing higher education as a path to employment, obtaining helpful certifications or further training to increase competitiveness, and tips on starting a business.  Each path offers a recommended timeline prior to transition as well as helpful tips to consider along the way.

Maureen Casey adds, “Our aim is to help position veterans for success in their post-military lives through employment resources like the Transition Field Guide.”

Launched in 2011, the 100,000 Jobs Mission brings together companies, many of them Business Council members, committed to hiring U.S. military veterans and military spouses. The 165 companies now involved have pledged to hire 200,000 veterans by 2020. They hired 161,752 veterans through the second quarter of 2014. For more information on the 100,000 Jobs Mission, visit

New York State Announces Second Round of P-TECH Business-Education Partnerships

New York state has announced a $4-million second round of funding to expand the nationally recognized P-TECH model, which prepares students for highly-skilled jobs by bringing together public school districts, major employers, and institutions of higher education. Through partnerships created by this program, high school students study under an industry aligned curriculum, earn an associate degree at no cost to their families, and are first in line for jobs with participating companies upon graduation.

The first 16 schools funded in the first round of NYS P-TECH awards will open in September, preparing to serve more than 6,000 young adults throughout the state.

The Business Council supports, and is involved in the P-TECH partnerships which were innovated by IBM.

Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the company’s International Foundation, said, “The P-TECH grades 9 -14 model can be a real boon to students and employers, creating a clear pathway from school to career all across New York State.”

Heather C. Briccetti, President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, said, “Our members across the state have jobs for skilled workers to grow their businesses and drive the local economy. NYS P-TECH’s public-private partnership model ensures quality education for students and a highly-skilled labor force for employers.”

Applications are due by September 12, 2014 and can be found at

Verizon challenges middle and high school students to develop innovative apps

Business Council member Verizon is once again calling on middle school and high school students to gather their teams, dream up ideas, and create concepts for mobile apps that could solve problems in their schools and communities.

The first two Verizon Innovative App Challenges have encouraged thousands of students to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects, and have awarded cash grants totaling $340,000 – and 130 new tablets, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America – to winning teams. Verizon is extending the program as part of its commitment to the Obama administration’s ConnectED initiative, to which the company has pledged up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next three years.

This year’s program will name eight teams Best in Nation and reward them with cash grants of $20,000 each and new Samsung tablets for each team member. The deadline for submission is Nov. 24, and the winners will be named in January 2015.

Teams can register now and learn more about the Verizon Innovative App Challenge at (