upstate economy

grilled cheese/flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says it’s now up to the voters to decide whether they want to expand gambling in New York. He’s signed into law a plan to build casinos upstate, but the public must approve a change in the state’s constitution in order for it to move forward.   

The new law permits up to four gambling casinos in upstate New York, as long as a referendum on November’s ballot is approved to amend the state’s constitution to allow the expanded gambling.

Cuomo says it will be up to the voters to decide.

NYS Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in the Adirondack Park yesterday, where he joined some of the state's most powerful politicians and business leaders on a whitewater rafting trip down the Indian River.

Cuomo says his "Adirondack Challenge," held in the town of Indian Lake, is meant to draw attention and more visitors to destinations in Upstate New York.

"I want to expose this part of the state of New York," Cuomo said. "It is a magnificent part of the state, as you can see. Tourism is a big business for us, it's a big part of the economy and this has great potential."

A century ago, New York could claim that much of its liquor was local, thanks to distilleries large and small that supplied a lot of the whiskey, gin and rum that kept New York City (and the rest of North America) lubricated. Then Prohibition arrived and the industry largely dried up, before trickling back to life in the 21st century.

Now, distillers in New York state are toasting a revival 80 years in the making.

The Syracuse region now has the best consumer confidence for metropolitan regions in upstate New York, as buyers there are finally starting to feel like this year’s economy will be better than the past one.

Consumer confidence was still the highest in New York City for the past three months, according to a consumer confidence index tabulated by the Siena Research Institute.

Minority trades training program comes to Syracuse

Jun 28, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new job training program is hoping to boost minority employment in construction and trades in the Syracuse area.

The city of Syracuse is putting its backing behind the workforce training program run by the National Association of Minority Contractors.

Otis Jennings, president of the local chapter of the association, brought the program to Syracuse. He says the best part of the program is the training is standardized and participants can take the certificate anywhere.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping a three-pronged agenda can revitalize a shrinking economy across upstate New York.  In Syracuse on Thursday, Cuomo touted a Financial Restructuring Board that will help struggling local governments, a proposal to bring resort gaming upstate, and START-UP NY as ways to jump start an upstate economy that's been losing jobs for years. The START-UP NY plan will make SUNY campuses entrepreneurial tax-free zones, that the governor says will help keep new businesses in the state.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers have begun weighing the economic benefits and potential uses of drones with the surveillance and privacy concerns that arise simultaneously.

New York state will use some of the money from last year's settlement with banks which contributed to the collapse of the housing market to help fund the state's "land banks," entities that buy and hold abandoned properties for redevelopment.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that a pot of $20 million will be divided up between the state's land banks for later development. Syracuse resident Hadee Rolon hopes it can help her Westside neighborhood, where well-kept properties are surrounded by boarded-up homes.

Lt. Gov. Duffy tries to sell START-UP NY to SUNY

Jun 25, 2013

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy called the SUNY campus system an economic driver for the state during a visit to SUNY Oswego Tuesday morning.

Duffy discussed the recent START-UP NY initiative, which allows for new and expanding businesses to move on to or near college campuses. Those companies will be exempt from paying state sales, property or business taxes for ten years.

"Everybody is doing everything they can just to transform the economy and put things in place that will keep businesses here and growing, and draw new ones in," Duffy said.

At a rally Tuesday in Albany, labor advocates protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest economic development program. The program, Tax-Free NY, is a new spin on an old economic tool.

“I think tax-free zones are a horrible idea right now. I think that these programs have been tried in the past. We’ve called them empire zones, job incentive programs, we know through history that these simply do not work,” said Ron Deutsch from the left-leaning New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been traveling the state, promoting his plan to create tax free business zones at college campuses. He’s also running ads, paid for by the New York State Democratic Party. Now, one of the state’s largest unions is countering that effort with its own message.

Cuomo has gathered local government leaders and business groups to the Capitol to demonstrate support for his idea to create the tax free zones at public colleges, some private universities and some state-owned properties.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says many of his key agenda items are still in play in the legislature, even though he’s been spending most of his time lately promoting tax free business zones at some state college campuses.

Cuomo held his sixth event in a week to highlight a plan to create tax free business zones at public and private colleges, as well as on some state owned properties. But he insists he’s still actively pursuing his other end of session priorities -- including public financing of political campaigns, a women’s equality act, the siting of three upstate casinos, and a board to help distressed upstate cities.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked local government leaders from around upstate New York help him convince the legislature to approve his tax free zone plan.
Cuomo wants to create tax free zones for new businesses who locate at state-run and some private college campuses around the state. All taxes, even for employees, would be waved for a decade. The governor says he may even increase the plan to 20 other state-run sites.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been traveling the state promoting a plan to allow new businesses to go tax-free for up to a decade if they locate near a State University of New York campus.  The plan, which is yet to be drafted into bill form, has raised some questions.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The Rescue Mission has opened it's latest store at the Westvale Plaza in Syracuse. It's the biggest thrift store in the 14-store chain, that supports a majority of the programs for a non-profit organization that helps the hungry and homeless in central New York.

Farmers' property taxes rise as land values increase

May 23, 2013
Joanna Richards

Agriculture is one of the most dynamic and innovative economic sectors in New York state. All this week, the Innovation Trail team is reporting on some of the current challenges and opportunities facing upstate farmers.

One of those challenges is property taxes. Agriculture is a land-intensive industry, so rising property taxes can mean much higher costs for farmers. And taxes have been rising, thanks mostly to increases in the production value of farmland.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Bus drivers who bring customers to Destiny USA in Syracuse won't be waiting in their buses for passengers to finish shopping anymore. The mall has created a new bus drivers lounge and the idea is to expand on what is already a big source of shoppers at the Syracuse mall.

Screenshot / Millennium Pipeline Company

An energy company is looking into building a natural gas pipeline from near Binghamton to the Syracuse area. Millennium Pipeline Company is currently soliciting feedback from natural gas suppliers about their proposal to connect three supply lines running east-west across upstate New York, with a north-south line.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

An ice cream icon in Syracuse has become the latest business to join in the revitalization of downtown Syracuse. Gannon's Isle has opened up a permanent store in the Dey's building, on the corner of South Salina and Jefferson Streets.

Charter School for Applied Technologies

A new program aims to promote high-tech manufacturing careers in high schools across Western New York.  Dream it, Do it WNY educates high school students about the broad range of  careers available in the industry.

Daniel Robison/Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the details of his plan to site three gambling casinos upstate Thursday. Cuomo, joined by union and business leaders, and representatives from county governments, offered more details of his plan to build three new gambling casinos. Cuomo says he wants to limit the locations to upstate regions for now, to prop up the failing economy. The governor says upstate needs jobs like it needs oxygen. And he says having a downstate location would devalue the upstate centers.

Eastman Kodak Company

Kodak expects to emerge from bankruptcy as early as July, according to the company’s reorganization plan filed late Tuesday.

Investigators in Boston this week quickly began sifting through more than two thousand videos and still images of the marathon route looking for potential suspects in bombing, with crowd sourcing becoming the newest tool in the arsenal of law enforcement agencies.

Joanna Richards

Earlier this month, energy company BP announced its entire renewables division was up for sale. At a recent public meeting on the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm, a BP official confirmed the company will push ahead with the development anyway, and local leaders vowed to hire experts to help them fight the project.

The grades are in and the Finger Lakes region is top-of-the-class for business friendliness in New York state. That’s the conclusion of a new small businesses survey conducted by But the survey also shows that the state still lags in a national comparison.

Upstate New York's economy will need to be in a near-constant state of reinvention if it wants to survive in the current environment, according to CenterState CEO, an economic booster organization based in Syracuse.

Money from a state pension fund is flooding into an Auburn company that manufactures, distributes and services electrical products. It's one way the state is trying to encourage economic growth in upstate New York.

New York's numerous economic development bodies will still have the ability to give out state-level tax breaks in a deal struck with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in state budget negotiations.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

It’s a creation expected to reduce the cost of heating and cooling for homes and businesses. It took five years for University at Buffalo Professor Sarbajit Banerjee and his students to invent a window film that repels heat from the sun.

An advisory group looking at strategies for rejuvenating New York state's "legacy cities" says collaboration and coordination with the governor's Regional Economic Development Councils are crucial for upstate cities dealing with declining populations and job opportunities.