The Upstate Economy

Business and economic developments affecting the central and northern regions of upstate New York.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) visited the home of Philadelphia brand cream cheese in Lowville Wednesday. While parent company Kraft-Heinz was in the midst of closing plants nationwide last week, the company recently it would hire 100 new workers at the plant.  Schumer told those already employed their jobs are secure.

Inside the Lowville cream cheese plant, the sweet heavy scent of cream is ever present.  Down a hallway, a  group of workers in blue uniforms and clear plastic caps spill out of a full room to hear from Schumer. 

Lowville Cream Cheese Festival

When Kraft-Heinz announced last week it would close seven of its factories nationwide, one factory in New York got better news than the rest. The company proposed a plan to expand its cream cheese plant in Lowville and hire more than 100 new employees over the next five years.

The Kraft plant in Lowville, which makes the famous Philadelphia brand cream cheese, currently employs 340 people.

Lewis County Manager Liz Swearingin says back in June, when Kraft announced it was merging with Heinz, county officials got on the phone with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The ride sharing service Uber held a job fair at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Tuesday and more than 150 people attended. Uber is pressuring the New York State Legislature to allow it to operate in upstate New York.

NYS Dept of Labor / Facebook

In the midst of a slew of bad job news in Upstate New York -- the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant potentially closing in Oswego County, Alcoa leaving Massena -- the New York State Labor Department is trying to pair job seekers with companies that are hiring right now.

Two hundred businesses offering 5,000 jobs jammed the OnCenter in what New York State Labor Department officials are calling one of the biggest job fairs they’ve held in New York state. Department spokesman Cullen Burnell says the jobs run the gamut.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The former Hotel Syracuse won’t reopen as the Marriott Hotel Downtown until sometime next spring. But, that’s not stopping brides, nonprofits and companies from around the world from booking a wedding or event at the almost 100-year-old hotel.

Hotel owner Ed Riley said in the midst of the multi-million dollar renovation, there have been between 20 and 30 tours for potential customers every week. And, stepping through the the dusty hallways with exposed wires and crumbing plaster isn’t putting a crimp on potential business.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to central New York yesterday and announced that a company that produces LED lighting products and technology will relocate its global manufacturing and research operations from California to East Syracuse. The move is expected to create about 400 new jobs.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

A full casino is in the cards for the Southern Tier. New York’s Gaming Facility Location Board endorsed a plan from Tioga Downs Wednesday. The venue applied unsuccessfully for a license last year, but state officials say this bid is different.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Many local politicians celebrated the completion of phase two of the Connective Corridor project which brings Syracuse University and downtown Syracuse together through new street improvements, bicycle lanes and pedestrian crossings.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Old met new at the former Hotel Syracuse this week. The manager of what is now the Marriott Downtown Syracuse and the manager of the hotel in its hey days toured the historic facility in downtown Syracuse Tuesday. The hotel is undergoing a $57 million dollar renovation.  

Matt Richmond / WSKG News File Photo

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, will certainly affect dairy farmers in New York state. But will it affect consumers? Of the 11 other Pacific Rim nations in the agreement, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have robust dairy industries that want to export more products to the U.S.

Central New York Regional Economic Development Council

Central New York's proposal for the state's economic development competition includes one project with the potential to create up to 2,000 jobs. Those jobs could go to a part of Syracuse that needs it the most.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Central New York Regional Economic Development council is bullish that its proposal for the New York State Upstate Revitalization Initiative will be a winner.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

Despite a tumultuous summer, Wall Street saw its best performance in the first six months of this year since 2011. A report from the New York state comptroller's office released Tuesday found that the securities industry earned more than $11 billion first half of 2015, a 29 percent increase from the same period last year. In addition to higher profits, Wall Street salaries, bonuses and employment are all on the rise.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A recent study that ranks Syracuse number one in the country for concentrated poverty among blacks and Latinos has ignited activists, who want city government to do something about creating jobs for residents who live in poverty.

At a rally on the steps of Syracuse City Hall, Rev. Nebraska Carter, a vice president of the Urban Jobs Task Force, compared poverty to a cavity in a tooth. 

Jefferson County

The Watertown International Airport will soon have a longer runway. A federal grant for the project will pave the way for larger jets.

The runway at the Watertown Airport will be extended by a 1,000 feet thanks to a $3.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Right now, American Airlines, which operates two flights a day from Watertown to Philadelphia, switches from a 50-seat jet down to a smaller propeller plane in the winter. With the longer runway, American Airlines will be able to stick with their larger planes all year. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

About 370 adults and children are currently staying in emergency shelters in Syracuse. Syracuse is focused on poverty now more than ever in light of a recent report which rates the city as having the highest concentration of poverty for blacks and Hispanics in the nation.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Coyote Moon Vineyards in Clayton is the first winery in the North Country to put their wine in a can. With canned wine, no corkscrew or wine glasses are required. Just throw the wine in a cooler or bag and when you're ready to drink, just pop the top. 

Amy Wort, from Governour, says in her experience, when she first introduces people to wine in a can, they're skeptical.

"When I’m at parties people are like what is that? I'm like, it's wine. And they’re like in a can? Yes, try it!” Wort says.

Jay Colesack visibly recoils at the thought of drinking canned wine.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

The developers of the former Hotel Syracuse are looking for a little help from city lawmakers, as they continue to redevelop the historic landmark.

Coalition for Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary

Officials from a portion of Lake Ontario that borders from Jefferson County down through Wayne County want that portion of the lake to become a national marine sanctuary. The coalition of activists and government leaders from four counties are applying for the federal designation that would put it in the same category as places like the Florida Keys.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Start-Up NY is getting good grades from SUNY. Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says it’s taken a while, but the program is taking off on several state university campuses.

Zimpher says she didn’t expect Start-Up NY, which offers new businesses 10-year tax breaks if they set up shop on or near a college campus, to become a massive success out of the gate. But now that it’s had more than a year-and-a-half under its belt, she says new businesses with jobs in tow have settled into several SUNY campuses.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

The Ithaca Commons pedestrian mall is open again after a facelift that took more than two years to complete.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A $57 million renovation will turn the former Hotel Syracuse into the new Marriott Downtown Syracuse,  scheduled to open in the spring of 2016. Now, the hotel is partnering with a branch of SUNY to help train inner city residents for some of the available jobs.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

There’s been an unusual focus on upstate New York among top state politicians from the downstate area in recent weeks.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a speech in Utica Thursday, says downstate lawmakers -- who numerically dominate  the legislature -- have been unified in seeking aid and programs for New York City and Long Island. But he says upstate lawmakers are more balkanized and have been largely unsuccessful.

“There is no place called upstate,” said Cuomo, who said New Yorkers tend to identify with the city they leave nearest, like Syracuse or Buffalo or Rochester.

Robert S. Donovan / Flickr

Developers hoping to build a slaughterhouse in Watertown will have to go back to the drawing board. This comes after the Car Freshner Corporation has objected to the developer's plans. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Workers are putting the finishing touches on a couple of model rooms at the former Hotel Syracuse this week.

Most of the interior of hotel has been taken down to its studs as part of a $57 million dollar renovation. That includes floors two through nine which will be home to 261 rooms in the new Marriott Downtown Syracuse.  

Al Gough, chief financial officer for Hotel Syracuse Restoration, says it’s important to have these model rooms available well before the hotel opening, anticipated next spring.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been making frequent trips to upstate cities this summer, touting his success in reviving the regions’ faltering economy. But a new report from the New York state comptroller on job creation shows there is still some work to do.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the $57 million renovation of the Hotel Syracuse continues, operators want the public to pass along stories and artifacts they may have about the historic building. The history of the hotel, which opened in 1924, is very much a part of the renovation that will turn it into a Marriot Downtown Syracuse.

And while the team renovating the hotel is asking people for their memories, they continue to find iconic items hidden behind years of remodeling. Because you never know what’s going to turn up as crews dismantle the Hotel Syracuse to its bare bones.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News


The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously in favor of the redevelopment of a grocery store on the city's south side. The vote comes after years of community organizers trying to entice the supermarket chain Price Rite, to open a new store on the property.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An apartment building geared towards students is going up in the shadow of Syracuse University. The new complex reflects a real estate sector that developers say has been neglected.

A long-vacant medical building has been torn down, and in its place a six story 54-unit student apartment complex is being built on University Avenue. The $18 million project has been a dream of Syracuse University grad Jared Hutter, a lead developer on the project, ever since he and his college roommate lived together in a house on Madison street in Syracuse a decade ago.

Watertown Airport

A new building and hangar at the Watertown Airport has opened to serve the growing needs of the local business community.

There are two parts to the Watertown Airport just outside the city -- there’s the commercial side where passengers board the two American Airlines flights to Philadelphia each day, and there’s the side that caters to private businesses. Jim Nabywaniec is a Jefferson County legislator who helps oversee projects at the airport.