Lafarge hosts groundbreaking event for plant modernization project

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Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. joined member company Lafarge North America Inc. at their groundbreaking event for the multi-million dollar modernization project at the Ravena, N.Y. cement plant today.  The new state-of-the-art facility will be equipped with advanced efficiency features that will enable the plant to compete successfully and meet the economy’s need for high quality cement.

“Lafarge is committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize the Ravena cement facility because we are committed to competing in the U.S. market in an environmentally responsible way,” said John Stull, Lafarge U.S. president and CEO. “New York is an advantageous location for Lafarge. This is an opportunity to better serve customers in this market and allow us to continue contributing to building better cities and communities across the region.”

Lafarge Ravena’s product is in demand supplying several high profile projects in the Northeast including the new Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City and the Global Foundries plant located in Malta, New York.

After an extensive review process, the plant modernization project received widespread support from the public, advocates, and community and business leaders. In late 2013, Lafarge was granted an extension of the project timeline by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The event was attended by a number of national, state and local elected officials and regional leaders, who supported the project and helped at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The modernization project is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2016 and expected to retain the plant’s 110 jobs, in addition to creating hundreds of temporary jobs during the construction phase.

New York State Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit

Today, at the second New York State Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the State will be launching a $6 million marketing and promotional commitment to raise the profile of New York’s beverage producers, a dramatic increase from the campaign launched at the first summit in 2012. The summit featured the farm-based beverage sector together with agricultural producers and government officials in an effort to accelerate and prolong the rapid growth exhibited by the State’s beverage industry.

Under the new marketing and promotional commitment, the State will commit $2 million in direct spending to support the industry’s growth via a $1 million targeted advertising campaign and $1 million in tourism promotion funding. Additionally, Empire State Development (ESD) will launch a $2 million grant program that matches $2 million in industry contributions for the marketing and promotion of wine, beer, spirits and cider produced in New York State. Entities deemed eligible for this grant funding will include not-for-profit organizations whose primary purpose and mission is the promotion and marketing of New York State produced wine, beer, spirits and cider.

“Agriculture and tourism have the potential for tremendous growth in New York, and over the past few years we have seen that our investments in the farm-based beverage industry are resulting in new opportunities for small business owners throughout the State,” Governor Cuomo said. “The proposals and actions announced today will make it easier than ever before to start a farm-based beverage business, raise the profile of producers across the State, and open up new markets where our entrepreneurs can succeed. Today’s summit was all about creating jobs and stimulating the economy, and I am confident that by working alongside our partners in the private sector our producers will be able to thrive and compete anywhere in the world.”

Since the first summit, legislation has been enacted and initiatives have been launched to help the beverage industry open new markets and expand its visibility across the globe. This in turn has helped create thriving new businesses, increase agritourism opportunities and grow jobs in every region of the state. Since the first quarter of 2011, State actions that support agricultural producers have contributed to an 83 percent growth in farm-based beverage licenses.

Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, “New York has a host of businesses and products that put our state on the map as a leader in agriculture-based beverages, including our award-winning craft breweries and wineries that stretch from the Finger Lakes to Long Island, as well as the small, artisanal distilleries and cider-makers that are just starting up. The initiatives Governor Cuomo is proposing to bolster New York State’s beverage industry will help to ensure that small businesses can continue to grow. Not only do these proposals encourage entrepreneurship, but they help businesses succeed and stay here in New York.”

Additional actions and efforts being undertaken to support the continued growth of the farm-based beverage industry are detailed below. For further information on the 2014 Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit, click here.

MWBE Expos announced

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) Opportunities Expo events, hosted by New York State, in Western New York, the North Country, and Mid-Hudson regions. These one-stop-shopping workshops will directly connect certified firms with contractors and various New York State agencies to increase opportunities for business growth and job creation.

“If we’re going to rebuild the Empire State, we need to make sure the doors of economic opportunity are open to all,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Opportunities Expo is one of the many ways we’re connecting minority and women-owned businesses to up to $1 billion in contracting opportunities. I encourage businesses to take part in their nearest Expo and learn more about the benefits of doing business with the State of New York.”

In addition to providing the opportunity to meet procurement officers, the event will also feature workshops and panel discussions to deliver important information about New York State MWBE certification and business development resources, as well as basic government procurement training. The Expo will also include the New York State MWBE BOOT CAMP, which will bring together local resources available for MWBE firms, such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, Professional & Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) center network in the region.

MWBE Opportunities Expos, sponsored by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development and local State partners, will be held as follows:

Western New York
Thursday, April 24, 2014
University of Buffalo – Allen Hall

North Country
Thursday, May 8, 2014
SUNY Plattsburgh – Warren Ballroom, Angell College Center

In addition, an Expo is scheduled to take place in the Mid-Hudson region this summer. For more information, please email expo@nysmwbeforum.org.

President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development Kenneth Adams said, “The Opportunities Expo features a full day program of networking opportunities and panel discussions that will not only engage potential minority and women owned business owners but will also be helpful to actively certified firms. By continuing to focus our efforts on increasing the MWBE utilization in State contracts, we will help these small businesses grow and create jobs in our local communities which, in turn, will benefit all of New York State.”

More than a dozen State agencies and authorities involved in the region’s business community, through the Regional Councils and other initiatives, will participate in panel discussions and workshops including:

  • Capacity Builder Workshop – Leveraging MWBE Certification with Business Development support
  • Regional Council Awards, Round 2 & 3 – Opportunities for MWBE subcontractors
  • Review of “new” New York State Contract Reporter and New York State Contract Compliance System and what they mean to your business

For more information, visit Governor Cuomo’s website.

Business Council president and CEO reiterates support for Common Core and Commissioner King

On Saturday, New York’s statewide teachers union formally withdrew its support of the Common Core Learning Standards as implemented in the state and voted no confidence in state education commissioner John King.

Responding to the no confidence vote, Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council said today, “Commissioner King is an agent for positive change and those advocating for such change are often met with resistance and hostility. New York is fortunate to have someone of Commissioner King’s character and dedication to children, despite all the resistance from the entrenched interest groups.”

The Business Council remains committed to the higher academic standards contained in the Common Core because, by the state’s own measure, just 35 percent of students who graduate high school are ready for college, post-secondary training or the workforce.

The Common Core Standards have been the subject of significant misinformation not only in New York but in other states. Responding to this, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also supports the Common Core, has released this video to help business people better understand the value of The Common Core standards.

Corning Named 2014 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year

Business Council member Corning Incorporated has been named an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its strategic energy management program.

“Innovative strategies in energy management are some of the most cost-effective ways to improve the bottom line in the places we work, shop, and play,” EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said. “Corning’s leadership in energy management supports the well-being of American families while also fighting climate change.”

Corning was recognized for adopting a continuous energy management strategy in all of its buildings and plants. Corning is a global company, with U.S. operations consisting of nearly 50 facilities in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

“Every one of our facilities has contributed to this effort, which has lowered both our energy usage and our costs,” said Kirk Gregg, Corning’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer.  “Our approach helps us manage greenhouse gas emissions, and the money we save on energy enhances our ability to make strategic investments in Corning’s future.”

Corning’s Global Energy Management program, led by Patrick Jackson, develops and implements Corning’s energy policies. Since its launch in 2006, GEM’s management practices have saved Corning more than $328 million in cumulative energy costs.

“We’ve received significant support from leadership and an amazing effort from all of our team members and plant managers,” Jackson said. “This success has only been possible because everyone in the corporation has bought into the idea that we can be world-class when it comes to energy efficiency.”

The 2014 Partner of the Year Awards are given to a variety of organizations to recognize their contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through superior energy efficiency. The award winners are selected from the 16,000 partners that participate in the ENERGY STAR program and will be recognized in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2014.

Through 2013, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved $297 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Business Council Statement on New York State Budget

Today, The Business Council of New York State issued the following statement from President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. on the New York State Budget

“For the fourth year in a row, the budget reflects a plan to control spending — keeping it at less than two percent — illustrating the commitment of Governor Cuomo and New York’s legislative leaders to keep New York on the path to prosperity.

“The broad-based tax reductions and reforms included in the budget — the most significant New York has seen in decades — will improve our tax climate relative to other states and promote investment and jobs in key economic sectors throughout the state.

“By adopting key tax reform measures — including modernizing and restructuring the corporate franchise tax, reforming bank taxation, reducing the corporate franchise tax rate to 6.5 percent, adopting the 20 percent real property tax credit for manufacturers, and others — New York will provide employers with approximately $560 million in tax relief that can be reinvested in the economy. This will allow companies to better keep jobs and resources in New York that benefit communities across the state.

“Significant reforms to the state’s estate tax law, eventually matching the federal exemption, will eliminate the estate tax for many small businesses, farm owners, and homeowners alike, avoiding business disruptions and reducing the incentive to migrate out of New York.

“Although the budget makes adjustments to the implementation of the Common Core, The Business Council was pleased to see it preserves the new, more rigorous standards that are crucial to ensuring students graduate college, and career, ready.

“Additionally, the sustained funding for New York’s tourism industry will help continue the momentum of the past few years, investing in an economy that boosts jobs and economic growth.

“The final budget agreement is overwhelmingly positive for the state’s economic climate. We look forward to continuing our work with the Governor and Legislature to continue to grow job opportunity and the economy in New York.”

Request for Application for Commercial Casinos

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board today approved the Request for Applications to Develop and Operate a Gaming Facility in New York State and opened the bidding period for commercial casino applicants.

The Request for Applications (RFA) may be downloaded at www.gaming.ny.gov/gaming/casinos.php.

The RFA, as mandated by the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act establishes minimum license fees for commercial casino licenses in each region and details how local support must be illustrated. Applicants are required to participate in an April 30, 2014 Applicants Conference, which will take place in the Capital Region, be open to the public and streamed online. Details on the conference will be made available in the near future.

Applications for gaming facilities will be accepted until June 30, 2014.

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.

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.