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Business Council president and CEO discusses state spending and minimum wage in radio interview

Maintaining fiscal discipline and keeping year-over-year state spending growth at 2 percent or less is critical to improving the state’s business climate, the President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., said in an Albany radio interview this morning.

Speaking with Susan Arbetter, host of WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom, Briccetti said the past four years of spending control has contributed to the excess of revenue over expenses that the state now has.

“I just returned from the Council of State Chambers of Commerce national meeting and there, chamber executives from other states were concerned with deficits in their home-state budgets, that is not the case in New York and that we do not have a state budget deficit is a testament to the Governor and to the Legislature,” said Briccetti.

Beyond spending control, Briccetti said The Business Council’s second priority is to promote actions that will lower the cost of doing business in the state. She cited reform of the Scaffold Law which assigns all liability for gravity-related, on-the-job injuries to employers as an example. “New York is the only state that has such a law,” said Briccetti.

The Business Council and other supporters of reforming the law cite the increased cost of liability insurance for contractors that drives up the overall cost of all construction in the state.

Briccetti also said The Business Council opposes new wage mandates and is opposed to the proposed increase in the state minimum wage.

She cited recent U.S. Census data showing the vast percentage of adult poverty is not based on wage levels, but on whether and how much an individual worked. Just 2.7 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who worked fulltime, regardless of wage, were in poverty.

“The end result will be fewer jobs created and potential job losses that will adversely impact both small businesses and entry level workers. If raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs available, it won’t reduce poverty,” said Briccetti.

You can listen to the complete interview by clicking here.

Business Council president and CEO sets legislative agenda

In a wide-ranging interview with reporter David Robinson of the Albany Business Review last week, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, discussed her priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session that began last week in Albany.

High on the list are, exercising continued restraint to keep overall state spending growth under 2 percent, retiring the 18-A energy assessment and applying the majority of the state’s estimated $5 billion surplus to infrastructure improvements such as roads, bridges and other public construction.

You can read the entire interview 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.

Quotable Cuomo

The Glens Falls Post Star’s Maury Thompson researched some of former governor Mario Cuomo’s speeches as part of his paper’s coverage of the death of the former governor, including this from a 1986 address at The Business Council’s Annual Meeting.

“Shouldn’t we be teaching some kind of — God forbid you use the word — morality?”

Some others:

“Know as much about the political facts as you know about the starting line-up of the Super Bowl.” — March 1979 speech to Hudson Falls Chamber of Commerce

“Actually, I should have gotten two loons.” — joking when he announced a large state land acquisition deal at a ceremony in Westport in July 1986 when the Adirondack Council, an environmental group, honored him as Conservationist of the Year. The award is a life-size replica of a loon.

Wage Theft Prevention annual notice requirement repealed

The Wage Theft Prevention Act, which has been a burr under the saddle of New York businesses since it took effect in 2011, is getting a major overhaul.

The act required every private employer in New York to provide workers a document verifying their salaries and other basic information, which employees were then to sign and return. And since its birth, the act has been the target of lobbying by business organizations looking to eliminate the paperwork requirement.

“All private sector employers in New York will get welcome relief under the “wage theft” reform bill signed by Governor Cuomo,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of The Business Council of New York State.

“Our members saw this as a costly and unnecessary compliance burden that provided no real benefit to workers, and fixing it has been one of our legislative priorities,” Pokalsky added.

“As part of this reform bill, we also supported Labor Law changes to help protect employees through improved wage law compliance and enhanced enforcement in cases of wage theft.”

Importantly, the Administration made clear that the Department of Labor will not require annual notices in 2015, citing an agreement with the legislature to move up the reform’s effective date.

Employers still will have to provide a written pay notice at the time a new worker is hired.

Governor backs Southern Tier casino, asks for reopened bidding

Saying the Southern Tier could benefit greatly from new jobs and economic development, Governor Cuomo is urging the state Gaming Commission to reopen bidding for a casino in the Southern Tier.

Gannett Albany Bureau Chief Joe Spector first reported the letter to the commission and the casino siting board late Friday. In the letter, Cuomo said the officials 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.

“If you agree to this request, the (casino board) should quickly establish a process for the fourth license that could be complete as expeditiously as possible, as the Southern Tier needs jobs and investment now,” Cuomo wrote in the letter.

Cuomo’s letter comes after increased pressure from local leaders after two casino applicants in the Southern Tier — Tioga Downs in Nichols and Traditions resort in the Town of Union, Broome County — lost to a casino proposal in Tyre, Seneca County, more than one hour away.

Read the full article from the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

New York ranked first in Northeast for attracting international students

New York State ranked first in the Northeast region and second in the nation in attracting international students to our colleges and universities, according to the “Open Doors Report” for 2014 released today by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

According to the report, New York State welcomed 98,906 international students in 2013-14, a 12.1 percent increase from the previous year, compared to the national increase of 8.1 percent. International students and their families contributed $3.3 billion to New York State’s economy, and created or supported 40,331 net jobs.

Further details from the Open Doors report may be found on the IIE website:

The leading five countries sending the most students to New York State include (first) China, (second) India, (third) South Korea, (fourth) Canada and (fifth) Taiwan.

The Business Community Calls for an Extension of the Brownfield Program

Today, The Business Council of New York State was joined by nearly 30 other chambers of commerce and business organizations from across the state in calling on Governor Cuomo to sign into law legislation to extend the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) through to March 31, 2017.

Without a timely extension prior to the close of 2014, the uncertainty surrounding the program seriously jeopardizes hundreds of millions of dollars in new development projects that will spur further economic development.

The letter also states, “The BCP is the single most effective tool in stimulating economic growth and the redevelopment of contaminated, post-industrial lands across the state. The program effectively facilitates the redevelopment of former industrial lands prevalent throughout our communities, by making projects with exorbitant remediation costs financially feasible. The BCP has leveraged more than 21,000 new jobs and nearly $7 billion in development, across almost 100 projects since the program’s inception. Every one dollar of BCP credits issued results in nearly $10 of new investment throughout the state. Without an extension before the end of this year, New York State immediately becomes a less attractive place to do business.

“We cannot wait until 2015; it is critical that we extend the program now. The average BCP project takes 2.8 years from application to completion. With the program currently scheduled to sunset in December 2015 new projects are already out of time. The extension passed in the New York State Senate and Assembly offer a needed reprieve, while a long-term extension of the program is negotiated.

“The BCP works. It leverages new development, remediates environmental contamination, eliminates blighted properties and encourages growth in sustainable locations.
“The listed coalition broadly supports legislative item A.10135/S.7878, extension of the Brownfield Cleanup Program and requests that it be signed into law.”

– Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

– Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber

– Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

– Associated General Contractors of New York State, LLC

– The Buffalo Niagara Partnership

-The Business Council of Westchester

– Canandaigua (NY) Chamber of Commerce

– Center State Corporation for Economic Opportunity

-The Chamber of Schenectady County

-The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County

-The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce

– Chemung County Chamber of Commerce

– Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce

-The Long Island Association

– Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce

– Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce

– Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

– Manufacturers’ Association of Central New York

– Niagara USA Chamber

– New York State Association for Affordable Housing

– New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance

– NYS Economic Development Council

– Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce

– Rochester Business Alliance,

– Rockland Business Association,

– Tompkins County Chamber

– Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism

– Unshackle Upstate

Interested in Exporting to Mexico? Empire State Development Trade Mission March 1-7, 2015

Empire State Development, in partnership with the Council of Great Lakes Governors, is leading a multi-sector trade mission to Mexico, from March 1-7, 2015, for New York State companies interested in exporting to Mexico. Registration is required by January 15. Travel and lodging costs may be reimbursed under ESD’s SBA STEP grant.

Mexico has a population of 120 million people and offers a large market with a GDP of approximately $1.8 trillion. Mexico accounts for about one-eighth of all U.S. exports. This year, New York businesses have exported more than $2 billion in goods and services to Mexico.

Learn more about the Mexico trade mission here and about other upcoming ESD trade missions and shows here.

A one-two punch for the Southern Tier

Officials in the Southern Tier expressed disappointment over the ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing and the state Gaming Commission Sighting Board’s decision to turn down two proposals for licenses, one in the Binghamton area and another in Tioga County.

Speaking with Gannett reporter Jon Campbell, Senate Deputy Republican Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton said the “disappointment looms very heavy.”

“This is devastating to our region, a region that has been struggling day in and day out,” he said. “And then to add on top of that the decision not to move forward with fracking this morning was another blow to the Southern Tier.”

Before the casino decision was announced, Governor Cuomo said it was a “legitimate question” to ask what the state can do to help jump start the Binghamton and Elmira economies, which have regularly trailed other areas of the state in job growth in recent years. Binghamton lost 300 jobs between October 2013 and October 2014, while Elmira added just 300, according to the state Department of Labor.

Cuomo said the state’s challenge is to make sure that the region has the economic incentive to thrive, without fracking or a casino. He said supporters of fracking have often asked him the question: “If not this, then what?”

“They need jobs, and they need income, and what’s the alternative to fracking?” Cuomo told reporters. “And I think that’s a very good question, and I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative for that community for safe, clean economic development.”