The Upstate Economy

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

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

A German-owned manufacturing company in Watertown will expand its facility and add jobs to its workforce. Roth Industries only plans to add 12 jobs as of now, but any job growth in Jefferson County is positive news.

Roth Industries is in the plastic processing business. That means they use heat to mold plastics into different forms -- like into those orange rectangle-shaped traffic barriers at highway construction sites. They also make oil storage tanks and other products.

Coyote Moon

 

Coyote Moon Vineyards, in the Thousand Islands, has won New York Winery of the Year. The family-owned business from Clayton has earned hundreds of awards in the eight years it’s been making wine.

Coyote Moon is the winery that first brought canned wine to the North Country. Owner Tony Randazzo said the decision to can their wine illustrates the family's mission behind their company. They aim to be creative and unpretentious.

17th Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community

A survey released this week by Jefferson Community College asked a sampling of county residents what effect they think the increase in the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour will have on their lives.

Research Director Joel LaLone says, while half of those surveyed said the increase would have no impact, 23 percent said it would make their standard of living worse.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has signed a Syracuse resident hiring ordinance into law. Officials have high hopes that this legislation can cut into the city’s high poverty rate.

The law will require contracts in excess of $100,000 dollars issued by the City of Syracuse, guarantee that at least 20 percent of the hours worked on a job will be done by city residents.

Miner signed her name to the legislation at Syracuse’s Southwest Community Center, saying these opportunities will go a long way in attacking poverty, and its side effects.

St. Lawrence Spirits

The Clayton Town Planning Board will allow St. Lawrence Spirits to launch their distillery on Route 12E in the Thousand Islands.

The decision comes days after a state Supreme Court ruled that the proposed location for the distillery does not violate zoning laws.

The lawsuit against St. Lawrence Spirits and the town of Clayton was filed by neighbors who claimed the business was too close to their homes. They fear noise from the planned inn, restaurant and distillery would be a problem.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A convention on the traffic management of unmanned aircraft systems will be held in Syracuse and Rome this fall. The state’s commitment to fund drone programs helped land central New York the convention.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At its annual meeting Thursday, Operation Oswego County, an economic development organization, said it helped create and retain about 386 jobs over the past year. But, the focus of the event centered on saving existing jobs that are at risk.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York State Fair officials say the first half of a massive redevelopment project at the fairgrounds in Geddes will be done by the end of June.

It was just last summer that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would sink $50 million into the aging fairgrounds -- half this year and half next. Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner says the project has come together quickly, and it will mean big changes at the facility by the time the Syracuse Nationals car show comes to town in mid-July.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Novelis, the aluminum manufacturing plant in Oswego County, unveiled a new $120 million addition to its operation Monday. The "automotive finishing line" takes strips of aluminum through furnaces, coolers and chemicals to strengthen the metal. It was designed specifically for the 2017 Ford Super Duty truck.

Kevin Schutt, the Novelis plant manager in Oswego, said with more aluminum, trucks can increase their payload and towing capacity. It's part of an industry-wide shift toward more lightweight vehicles for superior fuel efficiency. 

Julia Botero / WRVO news

The Hounsfield Town Planning Board voted unanimously last night to allow Dollar General to build a store on Route 3, near the village of Sackets Harbor. Residents who both oppose and support the development came to the meeting to voice their opinions Tuesday evening. After a heated exchange of viewpoints, many residents walked out. Others stayed and interrupted the board’s review of the Dollar General's site plans.

Catherine Loper / WRVO News

The Jefferson County town of Hounsfield, near Sackets Harbor, may allow a Dollar General store to move in later this year, despite opposition. The town's planning board will meet Tuesday to consider a proposal to build the store at the intersection of Route 3 and County Route 75.

More than 100 residents have signed an online petition to stop the development.

Julia Botero / WRVO news

Two weeks ago, more than 150 workers at the Climax Packaging plant in Lowville were told not to come to work the next day. The plant was closing immediately and everyone would lose their jobs. Thursday, a job fair in Watertown attracted many former Climax workers looking to get back on their feet.

It was hard to find a place to park outside the Bruce Wright Memorial Conference Center. Inside, people milled around a room sometimes stopping to introduce themselves to a local employer looking to hire.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Now that a higher minimum wage is coming for workers in New York state, nonprofits plan to begin lobbying the state for more funding, in order to keep their agencies afloat.

At Access-CNY in Syracuse, the biggest number of employees are direct support professionals. Hundreds of these workers provide hands-on support for more than 3,000 central New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental illnesses. They make $10-dollars and 25 cents an hour.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing a new Hunger Games-style competition, this time aimed at downtown revitalization. Struggling communities in regions across the state will compete for their share of $100 million. Watertown’s mayor thinks his city has what it takes to compete.

A shrinking population? Check. A struggling economy? Check.

But Watertown’s' downtown development hasn't been all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite. The old Woolworth building was renovated into apartments. Mercy Hospital was torn down and a mixed-use building is going up in its place.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), sporting protective ear plugs to block out the whirling of machines, shakes hands with workers on the factory floor of New York Air Brake in Watertown. It's the senator's first visit to the company, which has made brake systems for the railroad industry for over a century.

As Schumer pauses to study the heavy metal contraptions that make trains stop and slow down, company officials explain what he’s seeing. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Farm Bureau is among the most vocal groups a proposed $15 dollar minimum wage in the state. They’re asking New Yorkers to put the pressure on state lawmakers who will decide whether to include the increase in the state budget.

 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Included in central New York’s upstate revitalization plan is $40 million to develop an inland port that will process international freight containers coming from the Port of New York and New Jersey. The proposed location of the inland port is just outside of Syracuse in Jamesville, but another competing plan in a different location has been under consideration for years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The wraps are off the early design for a new Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse. The idea is to create a park with public art that draws people to the area on South Salina Street between Armory and Clinton Squares..

Jerry Van Eyck, of the New York design firm !melk, has been pondering Perseverance Park on South Salina Street for months now.

“It’s a space that’s the epicenter of downtown that is very underwhelmed and underwhelming, and we intend to change that,” said Van Eyck

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The debate over increasing New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is hitting the streets in one small upstate New York community. Businesses in Seneca County are actively fighting the proposal.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers want to try out a new job training program for small and medium sized manufacturers in central New York. The state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) wants to spend $500,000 to create a way to train a new pool of workers at a time when a large number of these workers are reaching retirement age.

The average age of an employee in manufacturing today is 56. That’s why Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, says a crisis is brewing when it comes time for companies to replace those workers.

Maple Weekend Facebook Page

New York is the second largest maple producing state in the country, producing more than 600,000 gallons of syrup last year, worth about $33 million.

But things are getting sticky regarding products that claim to be maple but do not actually have any maple ingredients in them. Organizations representing 14 maple-producing states are asking the Food and Drug Administration to review products they say are falsely labeled as maple.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Last month, the state comptroller’s office released the results of an audit of the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency with a list of recommendations to improve how it operates. Agency members are disputing some of those recommendations.

Who’s got your back? This housekeeping robot does

Jan 16, 2016
Sasha-Ann Simons / WXXI News

A small company in Ithaca, led by a 19-year-old entrepreneur, has a robot they say can clean floors and will make beds. The robot is still in prototype stage, but the team behind Maidbot is hoping to bring the “Rosie” from The Jetsons-type machine onto the market within the next year.

Centerstate CEO

Central New York’s economy continues to lag behind other Upstate New York communities according to an assessment of last year’s regional economic trends from last year. Economic forecasters predict continued slow growth.  But business leaders are hoping that a recent state investment into the central New York region can turn that around.

M & T Bank regional economist Gary Keith says the economic numbers from last year weren't horrible, but didn’t show a lot of growth either.

tales of a wandering youkai / Flickr

Christmas may be over, but this is still a critical week for retailers.

Ted Potrikus is president of the Retail Council of New York State, and while his organization doesn't generate specific numbers on what the state's retailers saw for holiday sales, he would not be surprised to see them come out with numbers similar to some national surveys, predicting about a four or five percent increase over last year.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

About 2,700 families came to the Christmas Bureau distribution in downtown Syracuse on Wednesday. It was one of their biggest years and largest operations as some of Syracuse’s most needing families received toys and food baskets.

Hospitality students eye future jobs at casinos

Dec 23, 2015

On Monday, New York State's gaming commission awarded three full casino licenses to the sites that got a recommendation last year, including the Lago Resort in the Finger Lakes town of Tyre.  But Southern Tier residents will have to hold out a bit longer, as Tioga Downs in Nichols, which was recommended for a license in the fall, waits for the official word.

Ithaca keeping local currency home for the holidays

Dec 21, 2015
Sasha-Ann Simons / WXXI News

Ithaca is a small town, but sometimes it has big ideas -- like a digital, community currency called Ithaca Dollars. The bottom line of this concept is to keep the region's money at home.

 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award to central New York signals a turning of the tide for the area. The region's economic development plan was one of three big winners in Cuomo's competition to invest $1.5 billion in upstate. At a ceremony in Syracuse Sunday to commemorate the region's success, Cuomo said this investment in upstate rights a wrong.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Construction has started on a project that’s hoping to transform downtown Syracuse and the arts in central New York. 

The former Sibley’s department store in the 400 block of South Salina Street in Syracuse, will be the new home to the Redhouse Arts Center by this time next year. Executive artistic director Stephen Svoboda says beyond construction of theaters and rehearsal space, the arts can breathe life into an area that needs it.

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