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AT&T CNY Civic App Challenge Launched

Business Council members AT&T and Syracuse University have joined with CenterState CEO, SUNY-Oswego, Girls in Tech and Hack Upstate, to sponsor the AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge, a two-month “virtual hackathon” in which developers are encouraged to “Solve Local” by building smartphone apps that serve Central New Yorkers. Winners will receive cash prizes totaling $18,000.

The challenge, which is being facilitated by Hack Upstate, was announced at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse and will run until Nov. 11. Coders, designers and technologists can register for the challenge and get more information at []. More information is also available on Twitter at #ATTCNY.

Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. announced the CNY Civic App Challenge at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.
Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. announced the CNY Civic App Challenge at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.

“AT&T’s commitment to technology innovation in Upstate New York grows out of our company’s multibillion dollar nationwide investment in the mobile communications network of the future,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “By encouraging students and career technologists in Central New York to explore smart phone software development, we are spotlighting the enormous demand for developers and engineers needed to create the software that will drive our mobile economy.”

Please click here to view a video overview of the CNY Civic App Challenge.

Cornell University names first woman president

University of Southern California provost Elizabeth Garrett will be Cornell University’s first woman president, the university announced on Tuesday.

Garrett will replace David Skorton, who is leaving at the end of the academic year to lead the Smithsonian Institution.

“Cornell is one of the world’s truly great universities, with a stellar commitment to excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and creative activity, linked with a deep commitment to public engagement,” Garrett said in a statement. “I am excited to join the Cornell community and to work with the faculty, staff, students and alumni to write the next chapter in its illustrious history.”

Garrett’s unanimous appointment by Cornell’s board of trustees follows a six-month national search.

Top charter schools deserve extra help

In a recent editorial, the Editorial Board of The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle makes the case for high performing charter schools to get more state aid.

“It’s grossly unfair that one of New York’s best performing schools has to raise $6 million on its own to grow. Yet that’s what Rochester Prep must do because it is a charter school and ineligible for additional public funds.

“No wonder a lawsuit has been filed against the New York state Education Department. It reasonably challenges the current funding formula, which does not provide money for charters to buy, lease or renovate their buildings. A family at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School on Clifford Avenue is one of a handful of families around the state arguing that taxpayer funding allocations of only about 75 percent as much as peers in publicly run schools is inequitable.

“The courts should seek to resolve this long-simmering dispute expeditiously. Thousands of New York children now in failing schools could benefit from a more equitable funding formula.
“Charter schools such as Rochester Prep, which saw more than half of its eighth-graders rated proficient or advanced in math this year, would surely benefit. Now compare Rochester Prep’s performance to that of eighth-graders in the Rochester City School District. Sadly, just 1 percent of city eight-graders were proficient. And even worse, eight city schools scored zero on the 2014 standardized math tests.

“School leaders and parents at Rochester Prep are busy this fall trying to figure out how they can raise $6 million to pay for start-up costs for a new high school and buy new buildings for elementary and middle schools. While there is a growing number of foundations and wealthy individuals who have recognized the merit of some charter schools, still, the pool is only so big.

“Charter schools that are doing well deserve more public support, especially when city schools are receiving about $20,000 per pupil, compared to about $13,000 annually for local charters.  The courts must correct this imbalance and injustice. Until that happens, Cuomo and state lawmakers should at least reward charters that are doing better than most other schools in meeting student needs.”

Business Council President and CEO discusses what’s ahead following candidate speeches

In an interview with Capital Tonight host Liz Benjamin, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq, president and CEO of The Business Council recapped last week’s Annual Meeting and answered questions about possible endorsements.

The entire interview is available here.  A Time Warner Cable subscriber login is required for viewing.  This is a summary of that interview from The State of Politics blog.
After hearing from both gubernatorial candidates at its annual meeting in Bolton Landing, the Business Council’s political arm will meet this week to try to pick a favorite.

Don’t be too surprised if the final word is “no endorsement.” After all, the Council’s 2010 decision to back then-state AG Andrew Cuomo was the first time in its 30-year history that it had chosen sides in the governor’s race. ”

During a CapTon interview last Friday, Business Council President and CEO Heather Briccetti said a neutral stance by her organization is “always a possibility.”

“It was an aberration last time,” Briccetti said of the 2010 endorsement.

“We had such a horrific experience the four years before that, and primarily the two years before that. Our members were very motivated to say: ‘Hey, we are headed in the wrong direction; let’s make sure we have somebody with a plan and the ability to accomplish some things.'”

On balance, Briccetti said the business community has fared well under Cuomo, though there is mounting concern over his public commitment to flip the Senate into Democratic hands. (The jury is still out as to whether he’s going to actually make good on that pledge, however).

Briccetti also insisted that Cuomo and his GOP challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, aren’t that “radically different” when it comes to fiscal concerns. She expressed concern over Astorino’s opposition to the Common Core, which the Council has strongly backed.

Briccetti said she found the challenging tone Astorino took during his Council address at Bolton Landing last Thursday night “interesting.” She defended her members against his claim that they have been complicit in the failure to further improve the state’s business climate.

“Our members feel like they’re businesspeople; we’re not political partisans, that’s not our role,” Briccetti said. “Our role is to try to effect change and improve the business climate. That’s not going to happen overnight.”

“…Access is very, very important to my members, and understanding that we’re not going to yell and scream and wave signs at the Capitol about things that we’re upset about,” she continued.

“…It’s just a different style and a different approach. As long as we have the ability to participate in the process, that is something that’s very important.”

The Council’s political strategies committee will be meeting this week not only on the governor’s race, but on a full slate of legislative endorsements. “It’s going to be a rather lengthy conversation,” Briccetti said.

New owners say Buffalo Bills will stay in Buffalo

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has reached an agreement to buy the Buffalo Bills and plans to kep the team in Buffalo according to a statement posted today on the Sabres’ website.

The announcement of the sale came with the blessing of controlling owner Mary Wilson, widow of Ralph Wilson.

“This is a very important day in the history of the Buffalo Bills franchise,” Mary Wilson said in a statement Tuesday. “Ralph brought professional football to Buffalo in 1959 and it was his life’s passion. He loved his team and he cherished the fans and his legacy will remain for all-time. Ralph would have been pleased with the sale of the team to the Terry Pegula family, who has been so committed to Buffalo and the Western New York region.

Roger Hannay, small-business advocate and third-generation leader of a family business, to receive 2014 Corning Award

Roger Hannay, a leader of a nationally successful manufacturer in a rural Albany County town for nearly half a century and a quietly forceful advocate for small business in New York, has been named 2014 recipient of the prestigious Corning Award for Excellence by The Business Council of New York State.

The award, sponsored by Corning Incorporated, will be presented to Hannay on Wednesday, September 17, at The Business Council’s 2014 Annual Meeting at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, Warren County.

“The Corning Award recognizes leaders from all walks of life whose success is driven by their achievement and their commitment,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq, president and CEO of The Business Council. “In presenting this honor, we recognize not just achievement in a single business sector or professional field, but also an unwavering commitment to making New York a better place for New Yorkers.

“Roger Hannay embodies those virtues.”

G. Thomas Tranter, Jr., president of Corning Enterprises and a vice chair of The Business Council Board of Directors, will present the award to Hannay.

“Roger has devoted his life to manufacturing things, and New York is better for it,” Tranter said. “He has made reels that businesses and consumers recognize as an unsurpassed standard of excellence. He has made his family enterprise clear proof that small businesses with strong leaders can thrive in New York State. And he has made a consistently powerful case that policy changes in Albany can make this state and its prosperity even stronger.

“Businesses of all size in New York are in his debt, and so are 19 million New Yorkers.”

First awarded in 1979, the Corning Award is a magnificent piece of original Steuben Glass, handcrafted by masters in Corning, New York.

Hannay began to discover his passion for making things and making things work better while working at his grandfather’s side as a lad growing up in Westerlo in the hills of western Albany County. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wheaton College and an MBA from the University of Michigan (1964), he volunteered for the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam.

In 1966, he joined the family company, Hannay Reels, Inc. Throughout his many years with the company he specialized in manufacturing, legal issues, health insurance, and human resources. He became president and CEO in June 1990. He now serves as executive chairman. Two of his four children, a son and daughter, now represent the fourth generation of company leadership.

Hannay has always been active in family, community, business, political, and religious organizations, providing strong, active leadership on many boards. As a long-time member of the board of The Business Council, he has been a strong and visible advocate for policy changes of special interest to smaller businesses and manufacturers, including tort reform, estate tax reform, and support for family-owned manufacturers. In 1998, he was recognized at The Business Council’s Small Business Day as Small Business Advocate of the Year Award.

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.”