Category Archives: Business

CEO survey shows confidence waning

The Siena Research Institute’s 9th Annual Upstate New York Business Leader Survey, sponsored by The Business Council of New York State, Inc., shows business leader confidence has dropped across upstate.

Following a record-breaking confidence level last year, business leaders are again worried that the tax and regulatory policies of New York State will have a negative effect on their businesses’ ability to grow. Combine that with the push for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, both which are nearly universally panned by the survey’s respondents, and there are some real headwinds for the upstate economy.

As sponsors of the survey, we were able to get an early look at the findings and we were pleased to see how well the results lined up with our own legislative agenda. For us, it was further proof that our members and our own policy priorities are well in-line with the broader business community.

To view the full survey results, click here.

And here are some links of coverage the poll’s release received around the state.

Albany Times Union: CEO poll: $15 minimum wage plan is wild card in New York

Buffalo News: Siena poll finds WNY business leaders less optimistic about economy

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: CEO confidence dips in Rochester, upstate

Rochester Business Journal: Optimism fades among area’s business leaders

As part of the rollout The Business Council and Siena are traveling the state to speak directly to each region’s business leaders. Our next presentation is this Wednesday, February 3 at the offices of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, register here.

Uber release highlights economic impact

Officials from the car-sharing service Uber were joined by Business Council President Heather Briccetti, elected officials, and local stakeholders at a news conference in the New York State Capitol yesterday.

Business Council President Heather Briccetti joined by Uber, elected officials, local stakeholders.

The news conference was called to highlight a newly released economic impact study that, among other findings, states Uber would create as many as thirteen thousand jobs in its first year of operation in upstate New York.

The full study, which can be read here, goes on to say that 350 thousand New Yorkers in areas not currently serviced by Uber have downloaded the app. Uber NY General Manager Josh Mohrer says this shows people throughout upstate New York are clamoring for the service.

In addition to yesterday’s news conference and study release, Uber has also launched an online petition giving everyday New Yorkers the chance to voice their approval of bringing Uber to all of New York State. You can sign the petition by clicking here.

Behind the Q-Poll

Most pollsters will tell you, how you ask the question can impact the answer. What they don’t always mention is the result can often significantly alter the public narrative on an issue.

Last week’s Quinnipiac University poll is a perfect example. Their press release claimed “New York poll found voters back $15 minimum wage,” and in their first poll question, “Would you support or oppose raising the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 an hour over the next several years?” participants agreed, 62 to 35%. The headline in a number of media outlets was, Q poll shows support for Governor’s $15 minimum wage proposal.

But that poll had a second minimum wage question, and the response has been largely ignored by the media.

It asked: Which of four options “…comes closest to your point of view regarding raising the state’s minimum wage,”?

  • No increase
  • an increase but less than $15
  • an increase to $15
  • or an increase above $15

For this question, 49% preferred something less than $15, slightly more than the 48% who preferred $15 or higher. Interestingly, for upstate respondents, 61% supported an increase under $15, including 13% who chose no increase. When given a range of choices, the Q-poll found that New Yorkers in fact are split on the $15 per hour proposal.

Then there is this opinion piece in yesterday’s NY Post. Michael Saltsman, from the Employment Policy Institute, used Google’s Consumer Survey tool to survey 504 New Yorkers. He first asked about a $15 per hour minimum wage, and – similar to Quinnipiac – found a support rate of 57%. But when they asked whether New Yorker’s would support that policy if it would cause some less-skilled employees to lose their jobs, the results flipped to 57% in opposition. When asked how they’d feel about a $15 minimum wage if it would cause some small businesses to close, 67% opposed it.

No doubt, there will be numerous studies on the economic impact of a $15 minimum wage. Three west coast cities– Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles – have adopted laws moving toward that figure, and some data are already showing job loss. Stay tuned.

Daily News gets it right

Since bursting on to the scene several years ago, Uber and Lyft have upended, or disrupted, the traditional taxi system. If you’re unfamiliar with how these services work, basically you download the company’s app on your smartphone and when you’re looking for a ride you open up the app, make sure it has you in the correct location and then ask for a pickup. The app then alerts the nearest driver that you’re ready to be picked up and in a few minutes you’re on your way. The convenience of both pickup and payment, along with the clean cars and friendly drivers, has made Uber and Lyft very popular.

But, like most emerging technologies, the country’s regulatory agencies have been slow to keep up. There are some legitimate concerns about insurance and licensing and the companies are working to address them. In New York City, the traditional taxi companies have been lobbying hard to have the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) step in and provide stricter regulations of For Hire Vehicle (FHV) apps like Uber and Lyft.

The regulations that have been proposed (read them here) have been met with considerable pushback, not only by the industry, but by business groups like us. The New York City media has been following the story closely and today the Daily News weighed in with an editorial siding with Uber and Lyft. We encourage you to read the whole piece, it’s not too long. But we did want to single out a key section:

“The TLC must recognize that it has no hope of ruling a dynamic and fast-changing market. One telling confirmation:

Consistent with its obligation to know who’s doing what on the streets, the commission demanded to know how many rides Uber’s 17,745 cars provide daily and where they are picking up passengers. Uber provided the data on April 1. The TLC has yet to produce even the most basic analysis of the numbers.”

For now, Uber and Lyft are only allowed to operate in New York City; they are prohibited in the rest of the state. We are working to enact legislation that would make Uber and Lyft available statewide. There’s been a huge push in our home base of the Capital Region. Several well-known restaurateurs have been leading the charge. We believe that Uber and Lyft would be key sources of economic development throughout upstate and remain hopeful we can get this legislation passed.

Where are the missing jobs?

We all know small businesses are integral to the economy. However, Goldman Sachs reports that small businesses have been struggling to grow and to provide the jobs important to middle class America.

The report, entitled “The two-speed economy” submits there are “an estimated 600,000 ‘missing’ small firms, and six million (missing) jobs associated with these firms, as of 2012.” This is compared to the amount of small firms and jobs created during past economic rebounds.

The report also comes to the troubling conclusion that willingness to start a business as the sole-proprietor has been particularly weak. Starting one’s own business is the typical direction the talented take after they are laid off, or if their current job does not meet their needs.

The U.S. Chamber says there is no “definitive reason” to explain this trend, but they assert that it can be attributed to the “avalanche of regulations imposed on our nation’s small businesses.” They explain that small businesses are least able to cope with the immense burdens of government regulations, and the “resulting burdens of compliance and implementation.”

The original article by the U.S. Chamber can be found here. The sobering report from Goldman Sachs can be found here.

Wegmans goes green

Most people know that today, April 22nd, is Earth Day, but did you know that April is also Earth Month? Wegmans, who already consistently ranks in the top 10 of Fortune magazine’s best places to work, is making news again for their latest go green initiative.

Earlier this month Wegmans announced that it was teaming up with the Nature Conservancy to encourage its customers to use reusable bags. As part of the push, Wegmans will donate $.25 for every pound of paper and plastic bags saved, with a minimum donation of $10,000.

What makes the plan even better for New Yorkers is that all those funds will stay here at home.

For more details on the effort, and to find out how you can participate, click here.

Obama Cabinet official to speak at WISE symposium

Are you ready to get WISE? The 13th annual Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Symposium kicks off in Syracuse, NY tomorrow. Among the exciting list of featured speakers is Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to WISE’s own website, the organization is: “An initiative to train and inspire women interested in launching or growing a business venture. The objectives of all training and events are to provide information, resources, and support for women entrepreneurs, enabling each to successfully advance their businesses to the next stage of profitability and success. Our goal is to create a thriving community of women entrepreneurs through two initiatives: the one-day WISE Symposium and the year-round WISE Women’s Business Center.”

Aside from Ms. Contreras-Sweet, attendees will be treated to innovative networking opportunities, specialized breakout sessions and a buy local expo.

Registration is still open, and incredibly affordable. Click here to sign up now!

Natural gas pipelines are good for business

Darren Suarez, our director of government affairs and an energy policy expert, sat down with Liz Benjamin of Capital Tonight, on Wednesday night to talk about several natural gas pipelines proposed throughout the state.

“When we have additional natural gas supply it helps to bring down overall electricity costs, and that helps all companies. That helps with all jobs, and that’s why we’re supportive,” Suarez explained.

The discussion focused on the Northeast Energy Direct Project, led by one of our members, Kinder Morgan. The project would connect parts of the existing Tennessee Gas pipeline system in New York and other states. Suarez also discussed the roughly 20 additional pipeline projects that are in varying stages of development around New York.

“We’re really going through a revolution in terms of our energy production and in terms of people’s choices for energy,” said Suarez.

The full interview is linked below. Please note, a TWC ID may be required to view the clip.

Natural gas pipelines are good for business

Tax foundation out with new tax map

Just in time for tax day, the Tax Foundation is out with a new map highlighting the top marginal income tax rates in each state. It will come as no surprise to residents of New York State that we have among the highest top income tax rates in the country. In fact, only six states plus the District of Columbia rank higher.

Just in time for tax day, the Tax Foundation is out with a new map highlighting the top marginal income tax rates in each state. It will come as no surprise to residents of New York State that we have among the highest top income tax rates in the country. In fact, only six states plus the District of Columbia rank higher.
Top State Marginal Individual Income Tax Rates in 2015 (as of April 15, 2015)

In addition to the above map, the foundation’s page has some really great information broken down by state.

We encourage you to spend some time and check it out.

IBM aims to shake up the health care industry

Forbes.com is out with a very interesting story about how IBM, a member company, is making a significant foray into the health care industry.

According to the story, “IBM’s pitch is that it will be able to create a new middle layer in the health care system – linking the old electronic records systems, some of which have components dating back to the 1970s, with a new, cloud-based architecture, because of its deep breadth of experience.”

The article goes on to say that as part of the effort, IBM is acquiring two companies, Cleveland’s Explorys and Dallas’ Phytel. The computing giant also announced strategic partnerships with Apple, Johnson & Johnson (also a BCNYS member), and Medtronic.

The entire effort centers around IBM’s Watson computer. You probably remember Watson from its famous appearance as a contestant on Jeopardy! a few years ago.

The article states the jury is still out on whether Watson is up to the task, but IBM is convinced the technology is ready. Stay tuned!