Category Archives: Manufacturing

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.

Lake Champlain pipeline supported by environmental, business, and government leaders

The largest environmental watchdog group in the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Council, has thrown its support behind a proposed natural gas pipeline crossing Lake Champlain from Vermont to International Paper’s Ticonderoga Mill.

“This will result in a dramatic drop in pollution for New York and for downwind areas of Vermont,” Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway said during a Nov. 18 public hearing on the proposed pipeline. “This would be welcome news not only for environmental reasons but for public health benefits. These are public benefits.”

Vermont Gas is proposing an additional transmission line from its Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project which will run from Vermont, under Lake Champlain, and to the IP Mill. The mill would then power their boiler with natural gas instead of No. 6 fuel oil.

“I hope (people) take note that things have changed in the Adirondacks,” Janeway added. “You have town and economic leaders talking about environmental responsibility. You have environmental engineers working with businesses to bring balance.”

The meeting was held by the New York State Public Service Commission, who will continue to take comments from the public through the end of the year.
Local government leaders have also come out in support of the project.

“They are trying to improve the environment by supplying fuel to IP which will cut their emissions by 50 percent,” Ticonderoga Supervisor Bill Grinnell said. “I would like to see IP continue as a successful company in this area. I really feel this is for the good in the community.”

Members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors also attended to show their support for the project.
The proposal also received support from Lake George Association Executive Director Walt Lender, who also works with IP.

“We could not have as vibrant of a community if we did not have the strong corporate partner that IP is,” Lender said.
“Our board is unanimously behind the proposal to bring natural gas to IP,” Chairman Randy Douglas said. “We went through the closure of a paper mill in Jay, and we are still recovering from the effects. This is a lifeline for IP.”

The Business Council of New York State supports the project and is preparing comments that will be submitted to the state Department of Public Service (DPS).

The DPS will receive comments on the project known as case number 14-T-0406, through December 31.

Comments regarding the case can be submitted by email to secretary@dps.ny.gov; by mail to Secretary Kathleen H. Burgess, NYS Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, N.Y., 12223-1350 (Re: Case 14-T-0406); or by accessing the case file through the DPS website and selecting the “post comments” link.

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.

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.

Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes Region designated a Manufacturing Community

ROCToday, the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes Region of New York was designated as one of the first 12 Manufacturing Communities by The U.S. Department of Commerce as part of its Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative. The U.S. Commerce Department-led program is designed to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies that help communities attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports.

“The 12 Manufacturing Communities announced today represent a diverse group of communities with the most comprehensive economic development plans to attract business investment that will increase their competitiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “IMCP is a critical part of our ‘Open for Business Agenda’ to strengthen the American manufacturing sector and attract more investment to the United States. Innovative programs like IMCP encourage American communities to work together to craft  strong, clear, strategic plans to attract manufacturing investment and jobs to transform themselves into globally competitive commercial hubs.”

Selected based on the strength of its economic development plan, the New York Finger Lakes region, led by the City of Rochester was selected out of more than 70 applicants based on the strength of their economic development plan,the potential community impact, and the depth of their partnerships across the public and private sectors to carry the plan out.

As one of the 12 designated Manufacturing Communities, the area will receive coordinated support for their strategies from eleven federal agencies with $1.3 billion available in federal economic development assistance.

These communities will also receive a dedicated federal liaison at each agency that will help them navigate available federal resources. They will also be recognized on a government website, accessible to prospective private foreign and domestic investors, looking for information on communities’ competitive attributes.

In order to earn the designation, communities had to demonstrate the significance of manufacturing already present in their region and develop strategies to make investments in six areas: 1) workforce and training, 2) advanced research, 3) infrastructure and site development, 4) supply chain support, 5) trade and international investment, 6) operational improvement and capital access.

In September 2013, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and other agencies awarded $7 million in IMCP grants to 44 communities to support the development of long-term economic development strategies to help them attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector and increase international trade and exports. The Obama Administration officially launched the national IMCP competition in December 2013. Later this year, the Administration plans to launch a second IMCP competition to designate additional communities, as well as convene the 70 communities that applied for designation to share best practices in economic development planning.

GE partners with innovative startup Quirky

Crowdsourcing, innovation and advanced manufacturing techniques are at the heart of a unique partnership between The Business Council member General Electric and Quirky.  A year ago GE and Quirky partnered to share patents and together were able to develop a line of smartphone app-enabled products, including the “smartest air conditioner in the world” that launched just last week.

Quirky partnered with GE Appliances to make the air conditioner, called Aros, and it should be on Home Depot shelves in fewer than three months. Another member of The Business Council, Con Edison, is even looking to offer a rebate to New York City dwellers who use the product because of its energy-saving potential.

The partnership also resulted in an announcement this week that Quirky will establish a call center and testing lab in downtown Schenectady, home to several GE installations including its global research and development center.

The Quirky-GE partnership is just the beginning, said GE Global Research Director Mark Little at a news conference announcing Quirky’s move to Schenectady.

“We are a gigantic global company that spends billions every year on innovation,” he said. “We search the world for great partners to work with. We found an outstanding partner in Quirky. We combine our technical might and skill with a startup company that has tremendous energy to innovate around the world. This is a combination that can’t be beat.”

“GE and Schenectady gave the world electricity, the first television broadcast, the steam turbine and dozens of other transformative inventions,” said Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman in a news release. “We can’t wait to set up shop here and be a part of that history. We’re really excited to join this community — which continues to be a world leader in technology and manufacturing — and continue Schenectady’s tradition of innovation.”

Quirky gives anybody with an idea, the potential to be an inventor. In September 2013, when Kaufman was 26, New York Magazine profiled the company and offered this explanation for how it all works:
“Here’s Ben Kaufman’s business, in capsule form. You have an idea for an invention. You submit your concept, one of 3,000 per week, to his website, Quirky. Hundreds of users vote on it, and the most up-voted ideas rise to the top of the pile. Then, every Thursday night, 200 people gather under a bank of webcams, with Kaufman and three or four other people up front, where they pick over the front-runners. Viewers weigh in again, and the room chooses three items to put into development, with Quirky’s engineers taking over. (They once got a kitchen item — an egg separator called Pluck — into Bed Bath & Beyond 29 days after it was selected.) If you voted for, say, the winning color, your name will appear, in micro-type, on the product’s packaging, and you’ll get a tiny slice of the profits. It’s a pretty rare company that’s so hippieish — Let’s have everyone get a say! — yet so purely free-market.”

When people buy the world’s smartest air conditioner, they will know that it’s a Quirky product, but also that it was invented by a guy named Garthen Leslie from Maryland. Leslie was working at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., when he came up with the idea for an air conditioner that knows when you’re on your way home.

“These air conditioners are a huge energy hog,” said Kaufman. “And [Garthen] thought, someone should make a smart air conditioner that learns your preferences and only turns itself on when you absolutely need it. He couldn’t just make an air conditioner though. So he sat on the idea until he heard about Quirky. He saw us on the Jay Leno show and submitted his idea and his idea got voted up.”

Final New York state budget needs to grow jobs and economy

As the Governor and New York State Legislature progress in final budget negotiations, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. is calling for a final state budget that boost jobs and New York’s economy.

“Job creation and economic growth are key to building strong communities in New York,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Continuing to restrain spending, implementing broad-based tax reform and mandate relief need to be a priority for a final state budget.”

The Council also debuted a new ad, “Help New York’s economy grow,” focusing on how tax cuts will help improve New York’s economy. Watch the ad below.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5XYdVo6UeQ&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Business Council Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky’s letter to the editor was published in the Albany Times Union. Read his letter that outlines how increasing taxes won’t help create jobs in New York how tax cuts would help create a more competitive economic climate to generate good-paying jobs and healthier communities.

A study earlier this year by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. (PPI), “Analysis of Economic Impacts of New York Corporate Income Tax Reform,” showed that when the tax reforms are fully adopted, major business and employment sectors will grow including construction, trades and business service sectors, manufacturing, and financial services.

Among the other issues of concern to The Business Council in a final state budget: Paid Family Leave, Out-of-Network Mandates, Energy Tax, Campaign Finance Reform, Brownfields, and education and tourism funding. Read more on The Business Council’s website.

ReCharge NY Program at Harden Furniture

News Conference Harden (1)

Business Council members, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Harden Furniture, joined together with state and local officials to recognize the success of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ReCharge New York (RNY) power program in the Mohawk Valley Region.

The retention and creation of 262 jobs at the 170-year old Harden Furniture company in Oneida County garnered the support of key state and local officials who worked together under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ReCharge New York program to support the company’s expansion. Celebrating the announcement at Harden’s McConnellsville saw mill and manufacturing plant recently were NYS Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush; Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente; NYS Senator Joseph A. Griffo (pictured above, standing left to right); Ken Tompkins with Empire State Development; Onondaga County Executive and NYPA Trustee Joanie Mahoney; NYPA president and CEO Gil C. Quiniones; and Harden Furniture President Greg Harden (pictured above, seated left to right).  In addition to the jobs, under the terms of the ReCharge New York deal, Harden will invest up $4 million in its operations in exchange for 1.38 megawatts (MW) of ReCharge New York power, a NYPA-administered program.

The event showcased Harden Furniture as an example of how Mohawk Valley companies are saving money under RNY and reinvesting those funds in protecting jobs, and anchoring and growing their businesses. A total of 60 businesses in the Mohawk Valley region and 3 not-for profit enterprises are benefiting from RNY allocations in return for their retention and creation of nearly 14,000 jobs.

Greg Harden, president Harden Furniture, said, “Like many businesses in New York, Harden Furniture was hard hit by the national economic downturn in 2008. We recognized that we had to restructure our business model if we were to survive and continue to provide over 200 families with good paying jobs. But we couldn’t do it without state government partners that understood the challenges faced by the business community. The ReCharge New York program, and the Governor’s insistence upon innovative economic development solutions, has reinvigorated our optimism for the future of Harden Furniture, its employees and the families in the Mohawk Valley.”

Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO, NYPA said, “With its focus on quality and sustainability, Harden Furniture is representative of some of the best qualities that New York State has to offer. Governor Cuomo’s Recharge New York program is ensuring Harden, a venerable family-owned business, remains a vital part of the Mohawk Valley economy in the years ahead.”

Governor Cuomo launched the RNY power program to help businesses and other entities lower their operating costs and spur economic development. The program offers up to seven-year contracts for lower-cost power.

The Rome Sentinel featured the event in an article, Low-cost power key to Harden growth.

Small Business Day

The Business Council advocated for New York’s small businesses last week at Small Business Day in Albany. Approximately 100 participants representing small businesses, trade associations and chambers of commerce attended the event organized by Business Council member the National Federation of Independent Business. The agenda included a ten-point agenda including repealing the wage notification portion of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, mandate relief, reforming New York’s Scaffold Law, out-of-network coverage, the 18-a energy tax, the manufacturers’ credit and paid sick leave.

“Small business day focuses on how small employers are challenged by New York’s tax and regulatory climate,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “Eighty percent of our 2,400 members have fewer than 100 employees, so we welcome this opportunity to share their concerns and help push for measures that make New York’s small business climate more conducive to growth.”

“Small Business Day not only recognizes the importance of main street businesses, but also serves as a critical reminder to lawmakers of the complex issues they face. From tax relief to sensible regulatory reform measures, our agenda is essential to the sustainability of New York’s small business owners.  This collective effort should serve as a reminder to lawmakers that small business is the backbone of New York’s economic present and future,” said Mike Durant, state director, NFIB/NY.

Other Business Council members also spoke out on the importance of Small Business Day, including the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, Associated General Contractors (AGC), the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Chamber of Schenectady County, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, Manufacturers Association of Central New York, New York Farm Bureau, New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association, North Country Chamber of Commerce, and the Rochester Business Alliance.

Visit NFIB’s website for more on Small Business Day.

American Made Movie

The Business Council of New York State participated in and supported a screening of a new independent film American Made Movie on Tuesday, January 21 at the GE Theater at Proctors in Schenectady. The film focuses on manufacturing, job creation, consumerism and economic recovery in the United States.

Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council, participated in a panel discussion following the screening of the film, attended by approximately 400 people. Other panelists included U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko; Brian Lombardozzi, vice president for state governmental affairs of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; Dr. Quintin Bullock president of Schenectady County Community College; senior advisor, marketing and government affairs Traute (Trudy) Lehner of SuperPower Inc.; and President Alessandro Gerbini of Gatherer’s Granola.

“The benefits of a strong manufacturing sector cannot be understated; the manufacturing sector accounts for roughly 9 percent of total employment in the United States and supports additional jobs and economic activity. When $1 is spent in manufacturing it also generates $1.35 in additional economic activity. Our nation should be doubling down on investments in manufacturing and workforce training,” Congressman Tonko said.

Pokalsky cited the loss of manufacturing jobs upstate as a significant factor holding back middle class wages. “These manufacturing jobs pay roughly $17,000 per year than other jobs requiring similar skills and over the past 30 years New York has lost thousands of those jobs.

Pokalsky cited tax cuts aimed at stimulating in-state manufacturing included in Governor Cuomo’s executive budget as an example of state policy that would support upstate manufacturers and create manufacturing jobs.