The Upstate Economy

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

Finger Lakes town of Tyre awarded 1 of 3 casino sites

Dec 17, 2014
Matt Martin / WSKG file photo

The state Gaming Facility Location Board has selected three proposals for casinos in in economically distressed communities in upstate New York in Sullivan, Schenectady and Seneca Counties.

The Seneca County site selected was the proposal by Wilmorite Corporation to build Lago Resort and Casino off the New York State Thruway in the small town of Tyre.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Hotel Syracuse is receiving a multi-million dollar state grant through New York’s competitive economic development funding program. The project is part of $80.2 million in funding central New York won.

Central New York’s regional economic development has been named a "top performer" for the third time in four years in the state’s flashy economic development funding program. It competes against other regions of the state for aid. The state gave out $709 million in all.

Mike Mozart

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is blaming what he calls the state's weak gas zone pricing laws for the Mohawk Valley's higher-than-average gas prices.

According to a recent report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, gas in the Utica-Rome area was selling for an average of $3.24 a gallon, which was the third highest price in the state. By contrast, gas in the Syracuse area was going for twenty cents less.

Brindisi says higher gas prices effect the area's economy.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Most New Yorkers earning the minimum wage are seeing their pay increase slightly, but that doesn't go for those in the service industry who receive tips.

The state's minimum wage will be $9 an hour at the end of next year. It will stay flat for servers and other tipped workers at $5 an hour, plus those tips.

Now the state labor department is considering raising the tipped minimum wage, but restaurant owners are worried it will have a negative ripple effect.

Shipping on St. Lawrence Seaway up

Sep 10, 2014
Susan Novak

Shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway is up three percent from last year.  That's a big comeback after last year's long winter  delayed the season.

When the seaway opened in March, the shipping lanes were still clogged with ice. Freighter traffic didn't pick up until late May.  Much of the cargo was leftover grain from Canada. And then, shipping really picked up.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

As New York state continues to boost the craft brewery and distillery business, brews and spirits pushed into the wine court at the New York State Fair.

David Tadros has been collecting brews and spirits from Clayton to Brooklyn to sell at his stand on the edge of the wine court. State Fair Showstopper Ale, a brew concocted only for the run of the fair, by Empire Brewery, is sold here, along with other New York state beers. And for the first time distilled spirits are available outside, opening them up to a bigger audience.

Overall, sales tax revenue in New York increased for the first half of this year, but revenues were mixed across the state.

Across the board, New York saw sales tax revenue grow $177 million over the first half of this year, according to numbers tallied by the state comptroller's office. That's a 2.5 percent jump, but it's been an uneven increase, with some counties seeing big gains, while others decreased.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is using a project in Madison County to highlight a new federal program that’s meant to promote infrastructure upgrades in rural parts of the country. The idea is to connect small communities with private money, in an effort to revitalize rural America.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A minority workforce training program on Syracuse’s North Side is being expanded with the help of several local agencies.

Northside UP, a community group targeting the immigrant population in the northern sections of Syracuse, has been running training programs called Green Train and Health Train. The second has placed a few dozen people on the payroll on St. Joseph’s Hospital, also located on the North Side.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A film production company that’s moved to central New York is scouting locations across the region for movies it plans on filming by the end of the year.

The Film House, which will be the first tenant in the new Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries in Dewitt, plans on starting to film the sci-fi picture “The Opium Wars” in September. The company's president Ryan Johnson says right now they’re scouting for places like exterior farms, a run-down bar, and a big hangar with a "Mad Max" feel. At the same time, Johnson says they’re also working on their next movie.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. With that in mind, the Preservation League of New York State announced a plan to repurpose five vacant industrial buildings in the Capital region with the hopes of attracting young professionals and revitalizing communities.

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, or "trendy hipster bait," launched on Thursday in hopes of breathing new live into old buildings.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The sight of cranes in the air, and shovels in the ground abound in central New York this summer.  That doesn’t jive though, with the latest job figures from New York state that the Syracuse area continues to lose jobs at an alarming rate.

Ellen Abbott

The Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse is planning an expansion that will let the brewpub create a new kind of farm-to-bottle brewing model.

The company is looking for $200,000 in federal funding to help with operation of a farm and construction of a bottling plant in Madison County. Sen. Charles Schumer says the funds would come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would be a good fit.

Michael Falcone is Chairman Emeritus of the Pioneer Companies, a commercial real estate development enterprise in Upstate New York, Denver, and Phoenix.  Prior to that, he was a partner with Robert Congel in the Pyramid Companies.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher speaks with him about malls, hotels, the development trajectory of Syracuse, the proper role of government in development, and Syracuse University's impact on the city.

Jim Day / WXXI

Many new startup companies end up running their new business out of their homes, and that's the case for Stephane Jean-Baptiste and Yve-Car Momperousse who live and work in Ithaca, New York.

Their sustaining business model relies heavily on their relationship with the land and people of Haiti.

As you’ll see, they’re aiming to be both successful and socially-responsible entrepreneurs, and help in the re-building of the island nation devastated by the 2010 earthquake.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The two-century-old gun manufacturer Remington Arms, the nucleus of a small Mohawk Valley community, is losing jobs to a more gun-friendly state.

The parent company of Remington, based in Ilion, New York, announced this week it is moving to lines of production work to the company's gleaming new factory in Huntsville, Alabama, announced earlier this year.

State, local and federal elected officials have created a new coalition meant to bridge the digital divide in central New York, as they say a lack of quality high speed Internet has become an economic development issue in Syracuse.

About two years ago, Bob Slivinski of Encompass Technologies  and Syracuse Innovations Group decided they wanted to move their office out of East Syracuse. But when they looked at offices in the city of Syracuse, the lack of fiber optic Internet stopped them cold.

SUNY campuses across central New York are working to get the final pieces in place to begin attracting business as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY. 

Start-Up NY offers businesses a chance to operate tax-free for ten years, if they set up shop within one mile of college campus, and create jobs that support the academic mission of the school they’re affiliated with.  

So far, according to the Start-Up NY web site, there are more than a dozen colleges and universities aligned with the economic development program.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Registration for a job fair to work at the new nano technology facility in Utica had to be cut off several days early because there was too much demand for the 300 open positions.

The job fair for the QUAD-C computer chip center on the campus of the SUNY Institute of Technology is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. But after 1,500 people had registered by Thursday, organizers cut it off.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO File

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) says Oswego County is in a prime position to grow economically, but needs some help improving the infrastructure to do that.

The Democrat, whose district includes Syracuse and part of Oswego County, recently held a roundtable on infrastructure at the Port of Oswego.

Maffei and fellow Rep Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) have helped secure funding for rail improvements at the port. This time the topics of discussion were not only expanding roads and rail lines, but replacing water and sewer lines and better rural broadband access.

There is a looming skills gap between available jobs in New York and the training needed to fill them, according to a new report.

The report, by Ready Nation/America’s Edge found that by 2020, there will be 350,000 available jobs in the state that New Yorkers won’t have the skills needed to fill. They’re mid-level skilled jobs that require some advanced education, like an associate degree or certificate.

A specialty paper producer in Pulaski recently more than doubled its production and workforce. Felix Schoeller, which makes inkjet papers and specialty products, added more than 170 employees in the past year -- boosting its total to nearly 300 people.

Michael Szidat, president of Felix Schoeller North America, says New York state’s economic development agency, Empire State Development, helped the company by giving it tax credits.

Utica considers launching freedom trail

Apr 16, 2014
Doug Kerr / Flickr

Almost 200 years ago, Utica was home to a passionate abolitionist community determined to rid the young nation of slavery. Now a local group is trying to remind the public of the significance of the city’s role in the anti-slavery movement.

Nearly sixty people came out recently on a typically chilly winter morning to walk downtown Utica streets, each of which had a story to tell from the days of the Underground Railroad.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

A campaign by the New York State Community Action Association to change perceptions of poverty was launched last week in Albany. The "From Poverty to Opportunity Tour 2014" is running in conjunction with a series of speaking events around the state that will feature people sharing personal stories of their experience of poverty.

Karla Digirolamo, CEO of the New York State Community Action Association put together the anti-poverty tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act or as it's more commonly known, President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty.

Photo courtesy of PWC

The chairman of the worldwide accounting firm PWC, formerly called Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has roots right here in central New York. Bob Moritz is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and visited the campus last week to speak about the global economy. WRVO's Catherine Loper spoke with Moritz about how those trends apply to the economic situation in upstate New York.

Apostolos / Flickr

While most of upstate New York is waiting for sunshine and warm temperatures instead of more cold and snow, the region's winter tourism industry is singing a different tune.

One of those spots is the Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland, where co-partners Marc Stemerman and John Meier say business has spiked compared to last year.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

After a year on the job, the Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank has issued its first progress report, which notes that several steps have been taken to start reclaiming Syracuse neighborhoods from dilapidated and decaying homes.

First the numbers. The Syracuse Land Bank has acquired 165 properties across Syracuse over the past year. Twelve have been sold or have sales pending; 21 are currently for sale; 26 are slated for demolition;  and 57 are vacant lots.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank has torn down its first house. Crews demolished a vacant home just off South Salina Street on Syracuse’s Southside Monday, after the land bank determined it was deteriorated beyond repair.

It’s the first of 25 properties slated for demolition this year, by the organization that buys dilapidated properties and either rehabs them or tears them down.  The idea is to deal with properties that are a drag on neighborhoods and magnets for crime.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The movie business is coming to central New York. With the help of some state tax incentives, the nation’s first nano film school, along with a film production company, will set up shop in suburban Syracuse.

"Now who would have ever figured? Hollywood has come to Onondaga. Right, you would have never guessed, but it has..."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Upstate New York’s new drone testing site is closer to pulling enough money together to begin operating. It’s been awarded a state grant to cover some of its startup costs.

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