The Upstate Economy

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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9:07am

Thu May 3, 2012
The Upstate Economy

DiNapoli: IDAs not delivering on job creation promises

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says "taxpayers are not getting enough bang for their buck when it comes to IDAs."
Matt Ryan WMHT

More tax breaks does not equal more jobs.

That's according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's latest report on New York's industrial development agencies (IDAs).

In his fifth report on IDAs [PDF], DiNapoli says the number of jobs created by the local economic development engines dropped by 22,000 from the year before.

DiNapoli also cites a $483 million gap in what IDAs gave out in tax breaks and how much they took in via payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOTs).

That breaks down, the report finds, to a $2,659 cost per job - up 9 percent from the year before.

"Taxpayers are not getting enough bang for their buck when it comes to IDAs," DiNapoli said in a statement.

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4:01pm

Tue May 1, 2012
The Upstate Economy

OCC and county lawmakers spar over SRC financial information

Onondaga Community College's reluctance to turn over financial information to county lawmakers regarding the new SRC Arena is creating some friction. It has become part of budget discussions between Onondaga County and the community college.

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7:18am

Tue May 1, 2012
Development

Syracuse's nonprofit problem: Not enough land on the tax rolls

Syracuse - and Syracuse University - from above. 56 percent of the city of Syracuse is occupied by nonprofits. That's land the city cannot collect taxes on.
Satellite imagery Google

Four major hospitals; three large colleges; dozens of churches, charities and government buildings.

They drive Syracuse's economic and cultural activity. But leave the city's bank account hurting for revenue.

In all, Syracuse nonprofits and other tax-exempt properties make up 56 percent of the city. That's land City Hall can't collect taxes on.

Add to that properties with temporary tax breaks given to encourage development.

Add to that more than 3,000 smaller plots throughout the city that are vacant or delinquent on their taxes.

"This is characteristic of the type of problem the city has in collecting property taxes," says Common Councilor Khalid Bey, chair of the council's economic development committee.

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1:17pm

Mon April 30, 2012
The Upstate Economy

State targets youth unemployment with training, tax credits

Paul Nojaim explained how his family-run grocery store in Syracuse will participate in the state's Youth Works program.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The Cuomo administration is promoting a new program aimed at reducing unemployment among teens and young adults in low-income parts of the state.

The Labor Department's New York Youth Works program was first announced in February. Officials were in Syracuse late last week to highlight the benefits of the program.

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7:27pm

Mon April 16, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Manufacturing growth slows, but factory hiring continues

Growth in New York's manufacturing sector has slowed, according to a new survey from the New York Fed. Above, a technician at Rochester's Certified Grinding and Machine.
Zack Seward WXXI

The recent growth in New York's manufacturing sector has slowed, but economists say it's not all bad news.

"I wouldn't make too much out of just one month. It still is indicating growth," says Richard Deitz, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

On Monday, the New York Fed released the April edition of its Empire State Manufacturing Survey [PDF].

After four months of steady growth, the Fed's "business conditions index" saw a 14-point drop. Still, the overall outlook remains positive. 

Deitz says manufacturing employment continued to increase, though unevenly in different parts of the state.

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12:51pm

Fri April 13, 2012
The Upstate Economy

NY Fed president: keeping young people upstate is key

William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, left, visited Syracuse Thursday.
Bizjournal via Flickr

The education and healthcare sectors - or "eds and meds" - provide potential for upstate New York's economy - as long as the region can translate research activity into job creation.

That was the message from William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Dudley was in Syracuse Thursday for a series of speeches. He also sat down with the Innovation Trail.

"The educational establishment is world-class," Dudley said. "And the amount of innovation that those institutions are driving is substantial. But not much of that innovation actually leads to jobs in the region."

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4:44pm

Tue April 10, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Buerkle on energy costs: "Let the free market work"

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle discussed energy costs with Syracuse-area business leaders Tuesday.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-Onondaga Hill) wants the federal government to take a more hands-off approach when it comes to energy costs.

The congresswoman hosted about two-dozen central New York business leaders Tuesday morning at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub in Syracuse.

Buerkle's main contention: The federal government should stop playing venture capitalist for startup energy companies. Deregulation is the best way to help small companies innovate and grow, Buerkle said.

"That's very different than saying, 'Here's money from the government. We're going to prop you up,' " said Buerkle. "That never works ... You've got to let the free market work."

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5:39pm

Wed April 4, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Brookings plan aims to double exports in central New York

The freighter English River enters the Port of Oswego, a major shipping hub for central New York's economy.
cseeman via Flickr

CenterState CEO, an economic booster engine for central New York, has set a goal of doubling exports for the region over the next five years.

The path to that goal includes help from the Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program. Brookings picked Syracuse last summer as one of four metro areas it would help increase its exports.

The plan was released Wednesday during CenterState's annual meeting. Along with Brookings, representatives from the US Export-Import Bank and the Commerce Department touted the potential of the region.

But central New York has a ways to go: Of the top 100 largest metro areas, Brookings found Syracuse ranked 72nd for export value in 2010.

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9:27am

Wed April 4, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Light bulb maker taps state backing for new prototype

Joe Casper and his company, Ephesus Technologies, used resources at the Syracuse, Albany and Canandaigua Centers of Excellence to produce new LED lights built on diamonds.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

A small Syracuse lighting startup was at it again Tuesday morning.

For the second time in a month, Ephesus Technologies was able to draw a big crowd for the unveiling of a LED lighting prototype. In March the company put on display a LED lighting system for use in stadiums.

But Tuesday’s event had a few more suits-and-ties as several state and local politicians and economic development officials were present.

“[Ephesus] I think has earned the distinction of tapping more assets across the state than any company I know of,” said Ed Bogucz, executive director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence, as he introduced the company.

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1:00pm

Mon April 2, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Young entrepreneurs pitch projects, for money and advice

Neil Lewis and his partner won $2,000 to develop their idea for a better camera mount for outdoor sports equipment.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Brian Page and Benjamin Onyejuruwa stood in front of the panel of judges with their hands full of groceries in an attempt to show how much easier their invention - an electronic ID and key programmed into a bracelet - could be.

The duo are roommates and freshman at Clarkson University. They made the trip down to Syracuse University on Friday to pitch QuickWhrist for a chance to win seed money from the university's Emerging Talk program.

Even as a freshman, Onyejuruwa already holds a patent for the technology.

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9:44am

Mon March 12, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Ephesus pioneers stadium LED lights for Syracuse racetrack

Ephesus president Joe Casper explains the technology behind his company's new stadium LED lighting.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

With the slide of a dimmer switch, Syracuse-based Ephesus is hoping to turn stadiums on to the next big thing in lighting.

Friday morning, Ephesus president Joe Casper used high-tech LED lights to show off the shine on two antique cars at the state fairgrounds. 

“We are looking at the most advanced technology and that’s the thing that we’re so excited about with this,” he says.

Amount of time Casper and his team of engineers needed to design the lights?

Just eight weeks.

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8:42am

Thu March 8, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Welch Allyn gets tax break for energy upgrades

Global medical device maker Welch Allyn was granted the first tax break for energy upgrades to part of its Skaneateles headquarters.
Connectologist via Flickr

After three years of waiting, the first-ever "energy efficient" tax break has finally been awarded by the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA).

And the winner is ... Welch Allyn, a global supplier of medical equipment to hospitals and doctor's offices.

Welch Allyn sunk $5 million into putting a LEED Gold certified addition on its research and development building at its Skaneateles headquarters.

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3:59pm

Tue March 6, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Auditor "comforted" by OCIDA fiscal health

An independent auditor who looked over the books of Onondaga’s County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) presented his findings to the OCIDA board Tuesday.

OCIDA board members liked what they heard. 

“I was very pleased,” says OCIDA Executive Director Mary Beth Primo. “It’s reassuring to know my board and the auditors realize the staff is doing a very good job.”

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10:58am

Tue March 6, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Gillibrand rallies against "unfair" Chinese trade practices

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by a United Auto Workers union hall in Syracuse Monday to trumpet support for new tariffs.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Standing in a Syracuse union hall that will close later this year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced support Monday for a bill that would allow the U.S. government to slap tariffs on foreign-made auto parts.

United Auto Workers Local 624 and 2149 once supported about 4,000 workers at nearby New Process Gear. The factory, which makes parts for SUVs, is also slated to shut down later this year.

Union leaders say Gillibrand's efforts may be too late for New Process Gear, but they could help other plants in upstate New York.

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6:05am

Tue February 21, 2012
The Upstate Economy

CNY car dealers optimistic going into spring selling season

The month of March is around the corner, and in the minds of auto dealers, it not only brings warmer temperatures, but also customers back to their lots.

And after a few years of hard times and sluggish sales, they’re more optimistic going into their busy selling season.

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12:05pm

Fri February 17, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Tom Devine on The Campbell Conversations

There is nothing more powerful than the truth.  That’s the faith that has sustained Tom Devine’s three-decade campaign to promote and protect whistleblowers in the corporate and governmental realms.

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6:51pm

Wed February 15, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Walkability, new apartments draw residents to downtown Syracuse

For 29-year-old Garrett Peterson, the "nicest apartments in Syracuse" and proximity to his friends prompted him to live downtown.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The move to downtown Syracuse was three years in the making for Nicole Samolis. That’s how long it took her to convince her husband to forgo their home in the suburbs.

The couple lives in the newly renovated Dey’s Plaza. The building was once a large department store, and then failed as an office building.

But since it was converted to apartments a few years ago, there’s been a waiting list to get in. Samolis was sold on the place by its view of Syracuse landmarks like the county courthouse.

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6:23pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

New York struggling to boost construction job numbers

Rich Anderson has struggled to keep employment up at his family owned construction business, Vector. He's had to take contracts as far away as Albany.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Ken Simonson is on a road trip to lobby for an increase in government investment in infrastructure projects.

Tuesday morning he stood in front of equipment at Milton Caterpillar in Syracuse and said “It’s great to see all this magnificent construction equipment, but it would be even better to see it in action.”

Simonson is the chief economists for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), a trade group. He highlighted Syracuse as one of four metro areas that have struggled more than most to regain jobs in constructions.

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3:32pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Why you love Upstate NY

vaula / via Flickr

We asked our friends on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere what they love about upstate New York, for a special upstate Valentine.  

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11:48am

Tue February 14, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Downtown Syracuse goes from retail to residential

VIP Structures will begin work this spring to convert the Wilson Building in downtown Syracuse into residential space. It's part of a growing trend of former commercial buildings being turned residential.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

For property developers Rich DeVito and Bob Doucette of Paramount Realty, the motivation for taking on large scale renovations of downtown Syracuse’s previously empty buildings was this:

“We wanted to make money,” says DeVito flatly, though Doucette chuckles at the simplicity of the answer. “It’s where the market is,” DeVito goes on to say.

And make money they did.

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4:45pm

Wed February 1, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Developer unveils big plans for Syracuse's Inner Harbor

While the industrial remnants have been removed, much of Syracuse's Inner Harbor remains unused. The city plans to go with a large redevelopment plan.
Dougtone via Flickr

New York’s Canal Corporation was 0 for 3 in its efforts to find someone interested in redeveloping Syracuse’s Inner Harbor.

Their last request for proposals, a few years back, garnered zero submissions.

But now, the City of Syracuse is in charge, after stepping up and asking to be put in charge of the project. And today the city made public its ambitious new plan to redevelop the harbor.

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4:36pm

Thu January 26, 2012
The Upstate Economy

IT company will keep offices in Syracuse thanks to tax break

An IT company will keep its local offices in Syracuse and create more jobs thanks to a state tax break.

The Empire State Development Corporation is giving ShoreGroup $3 million in tax credits over the next 5 years to expand its footprint and job force in Syracuse.

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5:36pm

Mon January 23, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Schumer continues push for Syracuse-area chipmaker

Sen. Charles Schumer holds up a bag of Syracuse-made Terrell's Potato Chips, and a prototype of a nano chip made by APIC, to illustrate the difference between the "chips."
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Sen. Charles Schumer is continuing his efforts to land a chip fabrication plant in central New York. Monday he visited a potential site, just north of Syracuse, with the CEO of chipmaker APIC.

A chip fabrication plant at Electronics Park in Salina isn’t a done deal, but Sen. Schumer said it’s just a matter of all the pieces coming together at a press conference Monday. The biggest hurdle is APIC first signing a contract with the US Navy.

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2:06pm

Fri January 20, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Rochester after Kodak

With Kodak embarking on a restructuring effort under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the future of the imaging icon remains unclear.

But one aspect of Kodak's legacy is already deeply imprinted onto the Rochester community.

Even as Rochester's most famous company struggled mightily to reinvent itself, the Rochester region steadily fought back - leading the state in job growth in recent years and outpacing its upstate peers in economic vitality.

One key reason: A long history of top-notch human capital flung into the community - willingly or not - as Kodak's fortunes withered.

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9:16am

Mon January 16, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Syracuse landing a chip fab hinges on Defense contract

Sen. Charles Schumer is using some political muscle to try and land central New York a high-tech chip maker. But the deal is contingent on the company first getting a contract from a spending-conscious Defense Department.

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