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In an editorial published Sunday, the Syracuse Post Standard has come out in support of The Business Council’s position that $5 billion in one-time revenue the state has received from settlements should be used for rebuilding crumbling infrastructure.should be used for rebuilding crumbling infrastructure.

Quoting from the editorial:

“Momentum is building in Albany to spend the state’s anticipated $5 billion windfall from bank settlements on infrastructure, as we and many others have been suggesting for months.

“Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week said he’d like the Legislature to deal with the surplus in a special session, so that it doesn’t become part of negotiations over the 2014-15 state budget that begin in January. That sounds like a wise move, considering the number of special interests already lobbying for a share of the money.

“As we said in July, the one-shot revenues should not be spent on things that have to be paid for year after year, no matter how worthy they are.

“Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are getting a lot of advice about just what to do with it: retire debt, take a few billion off the top of the Tappan Zee Bridge construction bill, use it for economic development Upstate.

“Our two cents: Spend the money on the desperately unsexy — but desperately necessary — repairs to water lines, sewer systems and the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.”

Underperforming students a concern for New York business leaders

In a recent story, CBS News reporter Heba Kanso examines National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data that shows for the United States, the measurement of student success has not been improving in comparison to other countries.

The NCES released data on the 2012 academic performance of 15-year-olds around the world in three subjects: reading, mathematics, and science. The study showed the academic performance of 15-year-olds in the United States stayed relatively the same in recent years, but other nations were improving.

All though this data doesn’t necessarily show why students in particular countries outperform others, it still raises concern for Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council.

“We [U.S.] need to think about what we’re doing wrong. Why are we losing ground to the rest of the world? And Common Core is one way to try and address that.”

IBM International Foundation President Stanley Litow is concerned that the American worker is becoming less educationally competitive.

“I think that some international geographies are continuing to do better, they’re improving their performance and the U.S. performance has been pretty stagnant,” said Litow. “I know educators feel a lot of pressure about performing at a high level, but the world is changing, and we need to be competitive, and our workforce needs to be competitive.”

You can see the entire CBS online story including interviews with Mr. Litow and Ms. Briccetti 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.

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.

Verizon’s total green energy investments in New York exceed $60 Million with new Long Island solar project

Business Council member Verizon has begun work on the installation of a new solar energy system to provide power to Verizon’s Long Island headquarters complex in Garden City. The new solar project will place more than 7,000 SunPower solar panels on the roof of Verizon’s building which already generates 6 million kilowatt hours of green energy annually from a fuel-cell system built in 2005.

The Garden City solar project is expected to be completed and operational by the end of this year. It is one of Verizon’s many on-site green energy projects in the New York City area: Fuel cells at five New York City telecommunications-switching locations (one each in Staten Island and Queens, and three in Brooklyn) and at a data center in Elmsford in Westchester County. Altogether, Verizon has invested more than $60 million in green energy in New York.

Upon completion of the new Long Island solar project, Verizon will operate more than 6.7 megawatts of green energy systems in the state. The combined fuel cell and solar energy systems will produce more than 40 million kilowatt hours of green energy annually. Verizon’s total green energy efforts in New York are expected to offset more than 4,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, or the equivalent of powering more than 3,000 homes annually.

remote areas in the western United States to help power a portion of the nation’s largest and most reliable wireless network.

All of Verizon’s energy-efficiency strategies support the company’s ultimate goal of cutting its carbon intensity – carbon emissions produced per terabyte of data flowing through Verizon’s global wired and domestic wireless networks – in half by 2020.

For more information, please visit the Verizon News Center.

Business Council president and CEO moderates diversity panel at Somos El Futuro

The positive impact on company performance that is tied to corporate board diversity was the topic of a panel discussion at Somos El Futuro, moderated by Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State.

Panelists included Roberta Phillips, executive director of the Center for Women in Business at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Mecca Santana, chief diversity officer for New York State, and Nancy Hernandez, Deputy New York State Comptroller Office of Diversity Management.

Somos El Futuro, is an annual event that serves as a platform for legislators, scholars, business and labor leaders to address issues that impact the Hispanic community.

Election results show support for natural gas development

Supporters of natural gas development are pointing to election victories by supporters of gas drilling as evidence of strong voter support for natural gas development.

Karen Moreau of the New York State Petroleum Council said G.O.P. victories across the nation and in upstate New York demonstrated strong support for natural gas drilling here. She said Democrats and Republicans alike in other states supported natural gas development.

“These states are seeing the benefits and ability of the oil and natural gas industry to responsibly develop American energy,” Moreau said. ”

The Joint Landowner’s Coalition of New York, a pro-drilling group based in the gas-rich Southern Tier, attributed support for natural gas drilling to some key Republican victories including State Senator Tom Libous of Binghamton and Rep. Tom Reed.

“These election results are a clear mandate,” he said. “The people of the Southern Tier want what’s best for upstate New York—safe, responsible natural gas development which will help clean the air, provide jobs and restore our communities,” coalition president Dan Fitzsimmons said.

Craft beers to be featured at The International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Trade Show

Whether you’re a beer lover or not, you’re probably aware of the sweeping craft beer movement that has taken our country by storm. Based on 2013 data gathered by the Brewers Association, the United States is home to over 2,800 craft breweries and hundreds more continue to open. This growing phenomenon will make its way to The International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Trade Show (IHMRS) this month to give attendees a taste of America’s new favorite beers.

IHMRS will be held November 9th – 11th at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Tens of thousands of hospitality industry workers from around the country are expected to attend, while industry leading companies and business personnel will share their latest products and services.

This year, craft beer will be featured in “The Beverage Experience” educational sessions. Tipi Vyrasith, food and beverage director at Empire City Casino, and John Rubbo, co-owner of Yonkers Brewing Co. will discuss how the addition of craft beer can enhance guest satisfaction, as well as increase an operation’s bottom line. These sessions, held on Sunday, November 9th at 1:30pm and 2:30pm at the Bella Bar pop-up bar on the conference floor, will appeal to food & beverage managers, bar managers, restaurateurs, and restaurant managers.

Vyrasith oversees eight food and beverage facilities at Empire City Casino, including two newly opened, craft beer centric restaurants, pinch American Grill and Dan Rooney’s Sports Pub. The innovative casual grill, pinch American Grill, is a collaboration with Ducasse Studio, the culinary consulting arm of Alain Ducasse Enterprise. pinch features an open kitchen, raw bar and pastry counter in a vintage diner-style environment. The beer program undoubtedly serves as a main attraction with over 30 New York breweries on tap, large format beers, and table-side taps allowing diners to “pour your own” beer.

As Vyrasith discusses the craft beer experience from an operations perspective, Rubbo of Yonkers Brewing Co., a leading brand in the beer industry, will provide his expertise about the value craft beer lends to any hospitality venue.

Like any other great idea, Yonkers Brewing Co. was created with a beer in hand. In 2010, the concept of brewing came to founders John Rubbo and Nick Califano who both had fond memories of tirelessly helping their grandfathers make homemade wine. As they exchanged stories about crushing grapes and discussed the intricacy of fermentation, they cracked open a cold beer. As the cap fell off the proverbial lights went on, “Why not just make the sweet nectar we enjoy so much more?” they thought. The generations-old tradition of wine making sparked a fire and with head brewer, Sharif Taleb, they brewed up a recipe that is now known as Yonkers Lager.

For more information regarding the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Trade Show visit www.ihmrs.com.

Editorial: More cargo at Stewart Airport is good news for Mid-Hudson region

Recent news that New York state plans to move much of the air cargo operation now at JFK Airport to Stewart Airport, as part of a multi-phase plan to improve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s airports, is a development that the Mid-Hudson region has long hoped for, the Middletown Times Herald-Record says in an editorial.

While the announcement makes it less likely that Stewart will be a major passenger hub in the foreseeable future, “this shift in cargo traffic does make use of the facilities already in place at Stewart with the promise of more to come, meaning more business opportunities locally and, most important, more jobs.”

The editorial continues, “This news should also improve the focus of local organizations and businesses that have spent a lot of time on the thankless task of recruiting more passenger business to Stewart.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act set to expire

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), passed in 2002, fourteen months after September 11, 2001, is a federal public-private partnership, designed as a financial backstop in the case of a major terrorist attack, that places the responsibility for financial recovery on the private sector in all but the most catastrophic of events. The current bill, extended in 2005 and 2007, is set to expire on December 31.

Lenders require terrorism insurance in order to approve or enter into financing arrangements with many New York businesses. TRIA has created the needed predictability and stability in these markets to ensure that such insurance is available without significantly burdening the taxpayer. Economic losses would have to exceed roughly $30 billion before the government’s reinsurance would even be triggered. Further, TRIA requires the government to recoup any taxpayer money it spends on the first $27.5 billion of terrorism losses and allows the government to recoup losses up to the program’s $100 billion cap.

TRIA is especially important to the viability of the workers’ compensation market and any expiration would prove extremely problematic. Unlike other insurances, workers’ compensation statutes narrowly define the terms of coverage and offer insurers little flexibility in controlling terrorism exposure through modifications in coverage. Without TRIA, insurance carriers’ only option for limiting their terrorism risk exposure would be declining coverage to employers facing high terrorism risk. Employers in higher-risk areas, like New York City, would be forced to obtain coverage in markets of last resort.

The Senate passed its version of a reauthorization in July. The House TRIA bill, H.R. 4871, has never been taken up for a vote by the full House. Congress is expected to be out of session until after the mid-term elections, leaving little time, in a lame-duck session, to take action on reauthorization. TRIA is an imperative for employers in New York and the economy of the nation as a whole. The business community must demand that Congress act to continue this essential program.