The Upstate Economy

12:27pm

Fri September 28, 2012
Startups

Professor looks to brackets for new student startup competition

A Syracuse University professor is designing a national startup tournament for college students.
OnTask Flickr

Sean Branagan doesn't want to get any angry phone calls from the NCAA's lawyers for ripping off their idea, but he took inspiration from a certain national college basketball tournament, held every March, for a new student startup competition.

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11:37am

Thu September 27, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Awards JumpStart opportunities for small businesses in New York

The Cornell Center for Material Research (CCMR) in Ithaca, has announced the winners for the Fall 2012 JumpStart program.

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4:28pm

Thu September 20, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Regional councils roll out projects for round two

Empire State Development

The ten regional economic development councils were back at it this week in their efforts to bring home as big a slice of three-quarters of a billion dollar state funding pie as possible. The councils released their progress reports and a new list of projects they think deserve cash in order to spur economic development and job creation in their regions.

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11:20am

Tue September 11, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Does government have a role in creating the next Willis Carrier?

Carl Schramm is the former president of the Kauffman Foundation and now a University Professor at Syracuse University.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

There is a political debate going on this fall about government's role in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.

It comes at a time when upstate New York continues to try and reinvent its economy. Small business incubators and accelerator programs are cropping up. The state has also made a major investment in creating a nanotech industry.

"The narrative that government is important? I don’t believe it’s true," says Carl Schramm.

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10:47am

Fri August 17, 2012
Startups

100 days in the books, startups emerge from Syracuse accelerator

Jason Scherr, CEO of Tivity, pitches his company's website at StartFast's Demo Day.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

One-hundred long days full of presentations, meetings with mentors and practicing investor pitches is all done.

The first-ever StartFast Venture Accelerator concluded Thursday morning with its Demo Day.

"Saying it was all hard would be an understatement," said Timothy Beckford, a founder of PadProof, a program to help professional photographers sell their pictures more easily. "It was a tremendous undertaking. We worked like crazy."

Nine companies entered StartFast back in May, but only eight made it through. The teams were given seed money, workspace and access to dozens of mentors.

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4:14pm

Thu August 16, 2012
Startups

Young entrepreneurs show off what they made in the "Sandbox"

Joshua Anderson, founder Uvalue, pitches his startup at the Student Sandbox Demo Day.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Thirty-four teams got coaching from 115 mentors for three months in the Student Sandbox. Fifteen of those teams made it to Demo Day.

The Sandbox, a startup business accelerator for college students and recent graduates, wrapped up for the summer on Thursday.

Company founders presented their ideas and business platforms to a packed room of fellow startups and potential investors.

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12:57pm

Tue August 7, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Construction activity in Syracuse setting quick pace in 2012

A new Marriott hotel is going up in downtown Syracuse's Armory Square.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Economic development officials often joke that their favorite bird is the crane. Not the one with wings, mind you, but the kind you see on big construction sites.

So far in 2012, developers have put a fair number of cranes into the airspace above Syracuse. The city is seeing a big jump in the value of construction permits applied for.

Through May, $146,271,066 worth of permits have gone on the Division of Code Enforcement's books. That's more than full year totals for both 2009 ($136,534,880) and 2010 ($142,229,141). It is also well out-pacing 2011's numbers, when only about $30 million worth of construction had been applied for through May. Last year ended up finishing at $245,382,179.

That has people in city hall feeling positive about the city's economic outlook.

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8:00am

Sun August 5, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Greek yogurt helps boost the dairy industry and upstate's economy

fishhawk Flickr

Greek-style yogurt now accounts for about a quarter of all yogurt sales in the United States.  Much of it is made in upstate New York, where this low-tech industry is having a big economic impact.

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4:45pm

Fri August 3, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Crouse-Hinds shows off new lab built thanks to state aid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media and employees at Cooper Crouse-Hinds following a site tour in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The governor said he had trouble following along with all the new technology on display at Cooper Crouse-Hinds in Syracuse, but he was certainly impressed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was given a close-up look at a new laboratory paid for with state aid at the 115 year old lighting manufacturer Friday.

Crouse-Hinds, which got its start making simpler devices like traffic lights, now makes lighting and electrical equipment suitable for harsh and hazardous environments.

In December, it won a $300,000 Excelsior tax credit from the Empire State Development Corp to renovate part of its site and put in the new lab.

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10:06am

Fri August 3, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Fiber optic company plans expansion in Albany

"This region is hot. It's incredibly hot," said Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, touting the government's role in helping Tech Valley Communications expand and stay in Albany.
Marie Cusick/Innovation Trail

A telecommunications company that builds fiber optic networks throughout the Northeast is expanding its headquarters in Albany, despite offers to relocate out-of-state.

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4:31pm

Tue July 31, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Vets head back to bootcamp, this time to learn entrepreneurship

Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, talks to participants of the 2011 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.
Institute for Veterans with Military Families

Popping the occasional Tylenol and drinking plenty of Red Bull are how Tom Voss and David Kendrick get through the long days at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV).

Voss, 28, from Wuawatosa, Wis. and Kendrick, 25, from Rochester, are both Army veterans hoping to start their own businesses.

For eight days at Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), Voss, Kendrick and 25 other veterans spend 14 hours a day in classes learning how to be entrepreneurs.

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9:31am

Fri July 27, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Not your traditional summer camp: one for entrepreneurship

El-Java Abdul-Qadir, an instructor at the South Side Innovation Center, talks with students in the entrepreneurship boot camp.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Repetition is the name of the game to turn high schoolers into good entrepreneurs.

All this week, high school students taking part in an entrepreneurship boot camp at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) in Syracuse have been forced to practice pitching business ideas and cold-calling clients over-and-over.

"The practical piece is really key," says El-Java Abdul-Qadir, and instructor at SSIC.

This is the first year of the boot camp and twenty kids are taking part, but organizers are hoping it will get bigger next summer.

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7:32am

Thu July 19, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Sensor startup senses golden opportunity

Courtesy photo / Sensorcon

Are we on the verge of a “sensor revolution?”

Sensorcon hopes so. The Buffalo-based tech startup envisions a world where the average person is empowered with a small device that reads temperature, carbon monoxide levels, dew point and more.

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7:45am

Tue July 17, 2012
Startups

Drawing up their business was harder than they thought

GraFighters co-founder Eric Cleckner, right, shares a laugh with fellow entrepreneur and BrandYourself co-founder Patrick Ambron, left.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Four years ago, Erick Cleckner was sitting next to his friend, Dave Chenell, in a class at Syracuse University. But they weren't exactly paying attention.

"[We were] just drawing in our notebooks instead of taking notes," remembers Cleckner. "And we were arguing about whose drawing would win a fight."

Their debate about whose character would triumph didn't end when class was dismissed. Cleckner and Chenell started working on a digital battlefield where their sketches could actually engage in battle.

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8:06am

Tue July 10, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Syracuse OK's 30-year tax break for university bookstore

The Syracuse Common Council approved a 30-year tax break for a new bookstore and fitness center for Syracuse University.
Cameron Group, LLC.

Those for it say it has little resemblance to Destiny USA other than the length of the tax break. But those in opposition disagree strongly.

Months of debate about Syracuse's development strategy and negotiations culminated Monday with the city granting just its second-ever 30-year property tax exemption.

The recipient is a developer who will build a mixed-use off-campus bookstore and fitness center for Syracuse University. The property in question is a long sliver of land currently owned by the nonprofit university, so it's not taxable.

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7:10am

Fri July 6, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Did Destiny USA ruin it for other developers in Syracuse?

Syracuse's Destiny USA shopping mall will remain just a mall.
Destiny USA

There's an old promotional video the developer behind the Destiny USA megamall released several years ago. It includes images of glass-enclosed golf courses, huge hotels and helicopter tours of upstate taking off from Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

Despite ending by promising "grand opening, summer 2004," you won't see any of that on the shores of Onondaga Lake today.

All you'll see is an even bigger mall - despite developer Robert Congel winning a 30-year property tax break worth about $600 million as an incentive from the city to build the Disney Land-like attraction.

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9:19am

Thu July 5, 2012
The Upstate Economy

GE unveils new battery plant

General Electric is getting ready to unveil a new battery manufacturing plant in the very same place where the company got its start.

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8:03am

Tue June 26, 2012
The Upstate Economy

New York's craft breweries bubble on thanks to tax credit deal

The F.X. Matt Brewery makes several types of beers, including Saranac ales and lagers, at its Utica, N.Y. brew house.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Nick Matt ducks into side doors and up staircases while rattling off the history of the F.X. Matt Brewery in Utica.

The brew house is like a second home to Matt because it was his grandfather, F.X., who first opened the brewery 124 years ago.

If you're racking your brain to see if you've ever heard of F.X. Matt Brewery, try this: they make Saranac ales and lagers. For the older generations, does Utica Club ring a bell?

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3:46pm

Thu June 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

New nonprofit venture fund aims to boost Rochester area businesses

Venture Jobs Foundation President Denny DeLeo (right) accepts a $50,000 check from 5LINX CEO Craig Jerabeck. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks is at left.
Zack Seward/Innovation Trail

The brand new Venture Jobs Foundation is just like any other charity.

"This one just happens to be providing early stage capital," says Denny DeLeo, the foundation's president and director.

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2:10pm

Thu June 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Can two Ithaca lawyers keep fracking out of New York state?

Helen and David Slottje moved to Ithaca in 1999. During the next ten years, they slowly transformed from corporate lawyers to the driving force behind New York's local drilling bans.
Matt Richmond/Innovation Trail

The fate of hydraulic fracturing in New York is still being determined by state regulators.

But that doesn’t mean municipalities aren’t taking action.

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10:16am

Thu June 14, 2012
Development

After Destiny USA debacle, Inner Harbor plans face a wary council

COR Development has proposed a $350 million project for the Inner Harbor that includes a hotel.
QPK Design via COR Development

(CORRECTION June 18th, 2 p.m.: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the estimated cost of environmental cleanup. That amount is roughly $12 million.)

The topic was the redevelopment of Syracuse's Inner Harbor, but it didn't take long for a councilor to bring up the elephant in the chamber: the failed expansion of Destiny USA.

But Steven Aiello, president of COR Development, didn't have much choice on the timing of his meeting with the Syracuse Common Council.

It was just last week that grand plans by the developer of Destiny USA were finally laid to rest.

Aiello isn't looking to build a mall, but councilors couldn't help but raise concerns. The proposed project is just down the road from what was once going to be Syracuse's Disney World.

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2:49pm

Tue June 12, 2012
Entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs: Out of the dorm room and into the incubator

Ariel Norling, the 20-year-old CEO of YouShouldDate.me, talks over ideas for her new online dating site.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Ariel Norling, 20, is from San Antonio, Texas. She has a lip ring and a spunky attitude to match. She majored in policy studies at Syracuse University.

Oh, and she's the CEO of her own online dating site called YouShouldDate.me. Tagline: "Online dating sucks, but it doesn't have to."

"We're trying to find the middle ground between 'casual whatever,' which generally just means people hooking up, and marriage," says Norling, describing her site.

She says she didn't really expect to become an entrepreneur - hence the social sciences degree. But last fall, after some convincing by a friend, Norling decided to pitch her idea at a local startup weekend.

The pitch worked. Folks liked it. And now she's spending the summer in Syracuse along with her two business partners in a startup incubator called the Student Sandbox.

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2:15pm

Tue June 5, 2012
Startups

Student entrepreneurs spending summer in Syracuse "Sandbox"

Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Liddy, right, meets with one of the teams participating in the Syracuse Student Sandbox.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Instead of painting houses or mowing lawns, a group of college students in Syracuse is spending the summer launching companies.

The Student Sandbox incubator just got underway at the Syracuse Tech Garden. And participation is ballooning.

When the program started four years ago, just five teams took part. This year, there are 34 teams. The Tech Garden had to find overflow space to fit everybody.

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5:00pm

Sat May 26, 2012
The Upstate Economy

IDA reform bill stuck in neutral

Daniel Robison Innovation Trail / WBFO

In recent years, donut shops, car dealerships, and doctor's offices have received tax breaks from industrial development agencies in western New York.

Now, a first-term state legislator from Buffalo has crafted a bill to halt such deals.

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3:36pm

Fri May 25, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Bill Owens reaches out to Canadian companies

Representative Bill Owens is working to increase economic ties between the North Country and Canadian businesses.

The Democrat held a series of meetings in Canada this week in an effort to entice more Canadian companies to look to Northern New York for expansion.

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11:01am

Fri May 25, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Slow and steady: New York state job levels rise

Michael Lokner Flickr

New York state is on the brink of returning to pre-recession job levels, according to a new analysis from IHS Global Insight.

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5:25pm

Thu May 24, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Syracuse candle maker rekindles old flame

Light 4 Life devotional candles roll through the company's new assembly line.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Candles are again being made at a Syracuse factory that had made them for almost 100 years.

Three years after Will & Baumer closed up shop and moved its candle-making operation to Tennessee, a new manufacturer of devotional candles has taken over the old plant.

The new company - Light 4 Life Candles - is headed up by former Will & Baumer president Marshall Ciccone.

Ciccone and other company officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

"It's just very, very heartening to see kind of a new start," Ciccone said after the ceremony. "A new company, but doing the same kind of thing."

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11:20am

Wed May 23, 2012
The Upstate Economy

The case for investing in research

Politicians like investing in infrastructure projects, like the Syracuse Center of Excellence, instead of research, says Dr. Karin Pavese.
Syracuse Center of Excellence coutesy photo

Investments in research take a while to pay dividends.

So says Dr. Karin Pavese, director of innovation at the New York Academy of Sciences.

At a biotechnology symposium in Syracuse Tuesday, Pavese told attendees there's great growth potential in state-backed research. But since the fruits of those investments often take many years to bloom, Pavese says politicians are often hesitant to pony up key funding.

One job created in the innovation work force - like a research position - creates three additional jobs, according to Pavese.

But standing in the way is something called the "valley of death."

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4:16pm

Mon May 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Schumer, Gillibrand aim to reduce unemployment among vets

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) addresses the media and veterans during a press conference Monday with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) beside him.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

New York's senators say they have three new pieces of legislation that will reduce unemployment among recent veterans.

At a joint press conference Monday outside Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) unveiled the three bills, which Gillibrand says have bipartisan support.

Unemployment among veterans who served after September 11, 2001 is more than 12 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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11:50am

Mon May 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

For 9 companies, 100 days to get off the ground starts now

Chuck Stormon, left, checks on last-minute preperations before the StartFast Venture Accelerator starts Monday in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

When the first StartFast Venture Accelerator begins this morning in Syracuse, the clock will start ticking for nine startups hoping to turn their big idea into a profit maker.

Modeled off of similar accelerators around the country, the teams have 100 days to soak up as much advice and support as they can. They're also given seed money and workspace.

StartFast is the creation of two local entrepreneurs, Chuck Stormon and Nasir Ali. In return for the investment and admittance into the program, Stormon and Ali get a small stake in the company.

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