Category Archives: Economic Development

State gaming commission approves request for applications for possible Southern Tier casino

The state’s Gaming Commission has approved a request for applications (R.F.A.) for new casino applicants in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region. The action gives final approval for bidders to seek a fourth and final casino license in New York’s upstate regions.

Capital New York’s Laura Nahmias reports the R.F.A. will be largely similar to the one used to select the three licenses the state’s casino siting board recommended awarding in three different regions last December. Two developers in the Southern Tier region were passed over in that selection process, and Southern Tier area lawmakers pressed Governor Andrew Cuomo to urge the Gaming Commission and the siting board to reopen bidding for the fourth license available under the state’s casino law.

In his letter, the Governor said the commission should start a process to accept new applications for the fourth and final casino license in the “true Southern Tier” after the region was passed over Dec. 17 for a facility in the Finger Lakes.

“Indeed, as this would be the last license issued in New York state, it may excite national competition by interested parties that submit even better applications than the first round,” Cuomo wrote.

Finch Paper boosts margins with new products, leadership

Business Council member Finch Paper has introduced an average of one new product a month since CEO Debabrata Mukherjee took over at the Glens Falls paper company in May 2013.

Mukherjee, is chief executive officer of Finch Paper, a manufacturer of uncoated paper that employs 617, making it one of the largest employers in the 11 county region. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
Since taking over as CEO following the retirement of Joseph Raccuia, Finch Paper has seen earnings improve for six consecutive quarters.

Now, Finch is in the early stages of a $20 million project to purchase and install new equipment at its’ wood yard to reduce fuel and electricity consumption. The project also will replace a portion of Finch’s largest paper machine. New York State’s economic development arm awarded $1 million in December to help underwrite the cost of those improvements. The upgrades at the wood yard are expected to be finished by September.
Muhkerjee told The Albany Business Review’s Robin Cooper, “It’s about supplementing what you have with new talents, creating a culture of winning and bringing new products to market. I’ve done this before.”

Finch’s $20 million in upgrades will improve efficiency without reducing headcount, he said.

Those improvements come as Finch prepares to bring more products to market. In the past 18 months, Finch introduced 18 new products including tags for clothing and gift cards. The company also began making more paper for envelope manufacturers and has worked to increase its market share of paper used in books and uncoated magazines.

Please read Cooper’s complete story here.

Ginna Nuclear Facility generates $358 million per year for New York economy

A study of the economic impact of the R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, NY, released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, concludes the plant adds $358 million to New York’s economic output and nearly $450 million across the entire U.S. economy.

“This study confirms that Ginna greatly strengthens the local, regional and state economies through job creation, tax payments, and direct and secondary spending. In many ways, nuclear energy facilities and their employees are invaluable to the quality of life in the communities where they operate,” said Richard Myers, NEI’s vice president for policy development, planning and supplier programs.

The study analyzed the impact of Ginna’s operations through 2029—the end of its 60-year operating license. Spending, and thus the economic impact of the plant, is considerably higher in years with refueling and maintenance outages when an additional 800 to 1,000 skilled workers earn up to $25 million. Ginna performs this type of outage on an 18-month frequency.

The full study is available here.

“Operationally, Ginna is an outstanding performer and is recognized as a reliable generating asset in the nuclear industry,” said Maria Korsnick, chief nuclear officer, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group and senior vice president, Exelon.

“Ginna creates very positive financial impacts for the entire state of New York and, as this study shows, it is a very important asset for the local economy providing affordable, reliable, baseload electricity that New York homeowners and businesses can count on. Ginna also provides tremendous carbon-prevention benefits that are all too often overlooked. This study affirms Ginna’s importance as a powerful economic engine and a clean energy asset.”

The R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is located on 426 acres along the south shores of Lake Ontario in Ontario, N.Y., about 20 miles northeast of Rochester. Ginna is a Westinghouse pressurized water reactor with an output of approximately 580 megawatts—enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has licensed the plant to operate through 2029.

In statewide TV interview Business Council President and CEO analyzes Governor’s proposed budget

Business Council president and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. was a recent guest on the Time Warner Cable News interview program Capital Tonight. Host Liz Benjamin’s questions covered a range of issues starting with the Governor’s budget.

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Ms. Benjamin: “The Governor’s budget did seem to be a bit of a mixed bag for business. You have a wide range of members, what do they think of the proposals.”

“This budget represents another year of fiscal responsibility  and to The Business Council that’s a huge positive”

Ms. Briccetti: “There are a lot of positives and I always go back to controlling spending. I was just recently at a meeting of the heads of many of the state chambers of commerce from across the nation and in many cases they are dealing deficits in their states and going into a budget cycle looking at what are the least damaging taxes their states could raise. And we’re not in that position. To me that’s a testament to four consecutive years of spending control. Yes, some of the surplus that the state has is the result of settlements, but some of it the result of fiscal responsibility. This budget represents another year of fiscal responsibility  and to The Business Council that’s a huge positive because it alleviates the need to go looking for new revenue when business in the state is still trying to dig out of the recession.

“The bottom line is raising the minimum wage does not create jobs.”

On the Governor’s proposal to increase the minimum wage:
“The bottom line is raising the minimum wage does not create jobs. It is a disincentive to job creation. If you just look at U.S. Census data for 2013, which is the last year that is available, 60 percent of people who live in poverty don’t have a job. This [raising minimum wage] doesn’t do anything to assist them. In fact, it is counter-productive because it creates pressure on small business to eliminate jobs, because they can’t afford the increased cost of the new minimum wage. So I would argue, let the economy recover. Let the pressure to fill positions drive up wages, which is happening in other states. There are states that have a higher average weekly wage, but don’t have a higher minimum wage—they have the same minimum wage as the Federal government and wages are going up because they have full employment. The problem is that raising the minimum wage has been identified by supporters as a way to eliminate poverty and it is not. The way to end poverty is to create more jobs.”

“I think you have to look at the core issue of job creation.”

On competition-based upstate economic development:
“We support good projects, so I don’t think the alternative of saying ‘we’re just going to each region a fixed amount’ regardless of what kinds of projects they have in the works is a reasonable way to allocate economic development dollars. I think you have to look at economic development projects on kind of an individualized basis. Competition could  exclude good projects because overall that region’s plan isn’t as good as the one next to it would be unfortunate and we’d hate to see that happen.

I think some evaluation of the individual projects rather than the overall package that the region puts up would be good because sometimes they be tempted to add frills to make the package look shinier. And that is maybe unnecessary spending. I think you have to look at the core issue of job creation.”

If the problem is property taxes, then creating subsidies for select groups is not the answer because it doesn’t drive down taxes.”

On the Governor’s proposed property tax plan:
“If the problem is real property taxes and we would agree that it is. It’s the largest tax that most small businesses pay and businesses are the largest property taxpayers in the state. If the problem is property taxes, then creating subsidies for select groups is not the answer because it doesn’t drive down taxes. I think we need to take another hard look at mandate relief [for local government]. The property tax cap will take time but is a good and very effective tool in controlling the growth of property taxes. I agree with the Governor overall in his mission of consolidating layers of local government to start peeling away some of the unnecessary spending that drives up real property taxes, but there’s also a need for mandate relief. Let’s do scaffold law reform that is a substantial burden on everyone, every homeowner, every business, and every municipality.”

You can watch the entire interview here. Please note, a Time Warner Cable subscriber login is required.

Cornell Tech Announces $50-Million Naming Gift for Verizon Executive Education Center

Cornell Tech today announced a $50-million gift from Business Council member Verizon for the development of one of the innovative aspects of its Roosevelt Island campus, the Verizon Executive Education Center.

The center will be part of the first phase of the campus, which began construction last month and is due to open in the summer of 2017. When fully completed, the campus will include two million square feet of state-of-the-art buildings, more than two acres of open space, and will be home to more than 2,000 graduate students and nearly 280 faculty and staff.

“This is a transformative gift that will help enormously to advance our mission of bringing academia and industry together,” said Cornell University President David J. Skorton. “The campus will welcome everyone interested in using technology to advance the economy and to make the world a better place, and the Verizon Executive Education Center will be at the center of it.”

Cornell Tech is a revolutionary model for graduate education that fuses technology with business and creative thinking. Cornell Tech brings together like-minded faculty, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs and students in a catalytic environment to produce visionary ideas grounded in significant needs that will reinvent the way we live.

Cornell Tech’s temporary campus has been up and running at Google’s Chelsea building in New York City since 2012, with a growing world-class faculty, master’s and PhD students, and postdocs who work with tech-oriented organizations and companies and on their own startups.

“Our donation to Cornell Tech is an investment in the future and fits perfectly with our mission to use communications technologies to solve big challenges and make people’s lives better,” said Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. “The Verizon Executive Education Center will be a magnet for developers, entrepreneurs, educators and innovators across all industries, building on the great talent and creativity we already have in the tech sector in New York City.”

In addition to the Verizon Executive Education Center, the first phase will include the First Academic Building with an open plan and collaborative work spaces, taking its cue from the tech world. It is designed to be among the largest net-zero energy buildings in the United States, with all of its power generated on campus. A corporate co-location building will also be located on campus. The co-location building will fuse academia and industry by providing space for established tech companies and startups to locate on campus. A residential building will be constructed for faculty, staff and students to ensure the campus is active 24/7.

To read the complete announcement from Cornell Tech, please click here.

Casino siting board may consider more applications for Southern Tier

New York’s casino siting board will hold a meeting in Manhattan on January 13 to discuss reopening the bidding process to new applicants for a casino license in the Southern Tier region.

Governor Cuomo earlier requested that the siting board reopen the process for proposals for a casino license in what the Governor described as “the true Southern Tier,” meaning the part of the state adjacent to the Pennsylvania border.

In the statement sent Friday, Gaming Commission chairman Mark Gearan said that helping the Southern Tier met the intent of the state law in allowing casinos in the first place.

“The intent of the gaming statute was to benefit economically distressed Upstate areas experiencing high levels of unemployment. Clearly, the Southern Tier meets this criterion. A process to generate new proposals focused on the Southern Tier may create an additional opportunity to identify an appropriately structured and capitalized gaming facility that could bring the region important economic development and employment,” Gearan said.

Both Gearan and siting board chairman Kevin Law made clear the Board will not consider opening up either the Catskills/Hudson Valley or Capital regions for additional applications. The Board authorized licenses in the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County and in Schenectady County.

The siting board authorized a casino license in the Southern Tier Region in the Seneca County community of Tyre.

Southern Tier businesspeople and elected officials have complained that location, between Syracuse and Rochester, is really part of the Finger Lakes area and will not benefit their region.

Retiring Lt. Governor Duffy to be CEO of Rochester Business Alliance

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy will become the next CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance at the start of the new year, the organization announced on Wednesday morning.

Duffy starts his new job Jan. 5.

Duffy is a former mayor of Rochester with close ties to Governor Cuomo, who has said economic redevelopment of upstate cities will be one of his agenda items. Duffy succeeds Sandy Parker as CEO. Parker will retire at the end of the year.

Click here to read the news release from the Rochester Business Alliance.

Destiny USA opened 24 years ago this week

Central New York landmark, and Business Council member Destiny USA, celebrated its grand opening 24 years ago this week as Carousel Center. The facility, opened on October 15, 1990 with approximately 1.1 million square feet of retail space. It has more than doubled in size since then.

With the addition of the expansion in 2011, Destiny USA is now 2.4 million square feet. It is home to more than 160 retail stores, over 40 outlets, 33 restaurants and 17 entertainment venues, making it a destination for couples, friends and families across the region and the world.

Carousel Center has a fascinating history. It was named after the iconic Carousel that sits inside the Food Court on the second level. Carousel No. 18 was manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1909 and had quite a journey as it moved around the country for 81 years – including several homes in the Syracuse area. The Pyramid Companies purchased the Carousel for $397,500 in 1985 when its then-current home at Roseland Park closed. The company restored it and placed it in Carousel Center in 1990.

“The Carousel continues to run each day and puts smiles on the faces of everyone, kids and adults alike,” Sara Wallace, Director of Marketing, said. “Destiny USA will be offering free carousel rides to everyone on October 15 as part of the anniversary celebration.”

The facility has always been much more than just a shopping center. Even from its early years, it has been a driver of economic development, including jobs, sales tax revenues, and tourism to the area. Carousel Center, and now Destiny USA, also has an active history focused on environmental protection since Robert Congel, founder of The Pyramid Companies, purchased the land the facility stands on in 1983.

Now, in its industry-leading role, Destiny USA implements a model of advanced and innovative sustainability initiatives as a LEED Gold® certified building, including rainwater harvesting, a solar reflective “cool” roof, purchasing Green Power for the facility, using recycled products used in construction throughout the expansion, and many more.
Carousel Center opening
“We’re proud of our LEED Gold® status and strive to expand all of our sustainability measures throughout the facility,” Rob Schoeneck, General Manager, said. “Destiny USA has grown its recycling program in recent years and created a composting program. Since July 2012, we’ve composted more than 1.1 million pounds from 25 restaurants.”

With Lower Cost Power Corning Expands Canton Plant

Business Council member Corning Incorporated will expand its facility in Canton in St. Lawrence County creating 40 additional jobs at the site. Corning is receiving a low-cost power allocation from the New York Power Authority to support the more than $21 million capital expansion project. The firm has been allocated 2.1 megawatts (MW) of power, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today. Corning will add a total of 30,700 square feet to accommodate additional storage and an increase in production of high-fused silica glass used by the semiconductor industry.

Patrick Jackson, Director of Corning’s Global Energy Management, said, “This allocation by NYPA will reduce Corning’s energy cost, which is a major expenditure at the Canton plant.
The Business Council advocates for lower energy costs for New York businesses.

Corning is a world leader in specialty glass and ceramics and has locations in  various parts of New York state. The company is planning to expand its Canton facility by 23,500 square feet to greatly increase production at the facility, which supplies microchips for computers, cell phones and other electronics. A 7,200-square-foot warehouse is also part of the project. Corning is planning a formal ceremony for next month to mark the start of construction on the expansion project.

The low-cost hydropower will be provided to Corning under a seven-year contract and is drawn from a block of St. Lawrence electricity known as Preservation Power. In addition to the new permanent jobs, which are already being added, the capital investments by the company are expected to support dozens of temporary construction jobs.

Focus on New York’s middle market

New York’s Middle Market was the focus of a panel discussion yesterday facilitated by The Business Council’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky and led by Executive Director of National Center for the Middle Market Thomas A. Stewart.

Panelists included Simmons Machine Tool Corporation President & Chief Operating Officer David William Davis, Hannay Reels, Inc. Chairman of the Board Roger Hannay, Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. Chairman & CEO Thomas O’Connor, Jr., and The Center for Economic Growth’s Executive Vice President Jeff Lawrence.

New York has one of the largest middle market sectors in the U.S. with at least 10,000 businesses, employing more than 4 million New Yorkers, or 30 percent of the New York workforce.  Defined as companies with annual revenues of $10 million to $1 billion, these companies also generate 18 percent of the state’s total revenue, approximately $500 billion in annually.

Executive Director of National Center for the Middle Market Thomas A. Stewart told The Albany Business Review’s Krystle Morey that middle market companies are “the unsung heroes of American  business.”  While most of the buzz surrounds large companies or the small business, Stewart says middle market companies account for approximately one-third of jobs and one-third of GDP.

Research from the National Center for The Middle Market highlights the diversity of the middle market that is comprised of business services (32 percent), manufacturing (14 percent),finance, insurance and  real estate (12 percent), wholesale (13 percent) and retail (10 percent).  Other industries comprising the middle market include transportation, communications, utilities, construction and healthcare.

The National Center for the Middle Market is a collaboration between GE Capital and The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. Visit www.middlemarketcenter.org for more information.

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