western New York

Kate O'Connell / Innovation Trail

Many of New York’s power stations are reaching the end of their operating lives, with coal-fired plants becoming less viable from both a business and environmental standpoint.

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $150 million deal that will see the coal-fired power plant in Dunkirk converted to burn natural gas.

Upstate New York has lugged around the Rust Belt identity for decades now.
But today, the region is trying on a new reputation as the king of yogurt — especially the high-protein Greek yogurt that consumers crave.

Kate O'Connell / WXXI

Shipping lanes and ports along the Great Lakes are big contributors to the economies of upstate cities.  Federal funding to remove sediment and keep these shipping lanes open is available, but funds are limited and some of the smaller ports struggle to secure the money to dredge shipping channels on a yearly basis.

And, difficulty freeing federal funds has led one company to take matters into their own hands in western New York.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

A western New York business is creating terra cotta architectural features with the help of the latest technology. The objects are an important element in restoring and maintaining historic buildings, and building new ones.

The work done at Boston Valley Terra Cotta dates back to the late 1800's. The gargoyles, statues, and feature tiles they create can be seen on buildings like Grand Central Station, the Philadelphia Public Library, and the Poptahof in the Netherlands.

Sidsel Overgaard/WRVO

In 1975, the workforce in several major cities in upstate New York had more than 40 percent of their jobs in manufacturing. Today, that number hovers around 10 percent. There are examples of manufacturers and workers in New York state who have found a place in our new global economy, but not without sacrifice.

Cuomo brings gambling revenue to western New York

Jul 31, 2013
Daniel Robison/Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent Wednesday traveling to three western New York cities to deliver gambling revenue that was withheld by the Seneca Nation of Indians during a four-year dispute with the state. Cuomo and Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder, Sr. handed out a total of nearly $140 million to Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca.

While in Niagara Falls, Cuomo said these back payments will be very helpful to those local governments.

Hill Cumorah Pageant, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

With 750 cast members, more than a thousand costumes, and special effects to rival a Hollywood film, the Hill Cumorah Pageant, which celebrates the history of the Mormon church, draws thousands of people to western New York each year.

They come in droves, from around the world, converging on the town of Palmyra to witness a Mormon spectacle taking place way off Broadway.

There’s a ten-level stage, a burning at the stake, and cast members descending on wires.

Some rights reserved by WELS.net

An estimated 15 percent of people around the world live with some form of disability. Upstate universities are tackling the challenges faced by this segment of the population and coming up with innovative technologies to increase access.

A walker for elderly people that also monitors vital signs, and a cane that uses vibrations to allow deaf and blind people to easily navigate their environment: these are just a couple of the access technologies created by researchers in western New York.

Kate O'Connell

Upstate New York’s newest Greek yogurt factory opened its doors in Batavia, Monday. The factory is a joint venture between Pepsi and German dairy giant, the Theo Muller Group. The Muller Quaker Dairy Plant is touted as a shot in the arm for the dairy industry in western New York.

The 350,000 square foot facility will produce several yogurt products, including the fast growing Greek yogurt varieties. The plant will initially operate three lines, producing more than 120,000 cups of yogurt per hour.

Community colleges are having a large economic impact on their home counties upstate, according to new research.

A report focused on Monroe Community College in western New York, calculated the institution has an annual impact of more than $710 million in Monroe County. And, says MCC president Anne Kress, SUNY colleges across upstate New York are no different.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

The quiet western New York farming community of Alabama sits among acres of farm and wetland. It’s also the site chosen for a new Science Technology and Manufacturing Park, known as STAMP. The high-tech park has also been the subject of some public scrutiny, as Genesee county rates highly amongst top agricultural producers in the state. The project is also an example of when the values of agricultural communities are starting to rub up against an upstate development agenda focused around high-tech manufacturing.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

More than 100 kids showcased their ideas at the 11th annual Western New York Invention Convention, held recently at Medaille College in Buffalo. It was created to promote creative thinking and encourage scientific problem solving.

WBFO News file photo

A new report called Taken By Storm released by the National Wildlife Foundation is highlighting the issue of excessive fertilizer runoff into Lake Erie. The resulting algal blooms can seriously impact the health of those who rely on its water.

Thumbtack.com

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 Thumbtack.com. But the survey also shows that the state still lags in a national comparison.

New food processing facilities are popping up across western New York, and they're generating demand for skilled workers to operate them.

Ashley Hassett / WBFO

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this month it will be providing technical assistance to three western New York communities. They were chosen out of 121 applicants and are three of 43 communities to be assisted across the country. The EPA will provide the aid by delivering workshops on developing sustainable growth strategies.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

During his visit to western New York on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted to the backlash by Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) against his executive budget proposal that would remove their powers to grant state sales tax exemptions.

SensGard LLC. makes hearing protection, but not the kind that you might be used to. Instead of large, wooly earmuffs they are producing small, foldable hearing protectors that look like ear plugs on the end of a headband.

Matt Richmond / Innovation Trail/WSKG

Shortly after opening its doors at this spring, the Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) ignited a controversy that persists several months later.

The newly-founded SUNY Buffalo institute issued a study which found a decline in accidents and environmental damage caused by hydrofracking – a drilling technique using high volumes of water, sand and chemicals to extract natural gas from shale far below the Earth’s surface.

Opponents call the study flawed and biased in favor of the oil and gas industry.

Buffalo's roster of incubators grows by one

Jul 26, 2012
G.G. Italy / Flickr

Buffalo’s latest business incubator is on the hunt for small tech companies who are long on ideas, but perhaps short on cash, office space and personnel. 

Calling itself Buffalo’s first Internet-focused incubator, Z80 Labs launched Monday with a well-orchestrated launch party featuring the region’s tech elite, as well as Forbes CEO Mike Perlis, and prominent venture capitalist Fred Wilson.

Z80 is the brainchild of some of Buffalo’s richest entrepreneurs who are promising to use their business connections and access to capital to nurture hand-selected startups.

Voyage studying plastic in Great Lakes sets sail

Jul 13, 2012
Daniel Robison / Innovation Trail/WBFO

Until now, scientists could only guess at the amount of plastic waste in the Great Lakes.

This week, a team of researchers sets sail to conduct the first-ever survey of plastic pollution in the world’s largest fresh water system.

“You really have to start with, ‘Is this even an issue in the Great Lakes?  [With] 35 million people living around the Great Lakes, all the plastic you see blowing around, common sense is that it’s out there,” says Sherri “Sam” Mason, professor within SUNY Fredonia’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

publicenergy / Flickr

New York State is home to more than 600,000 dairy cows, which generate millions of pounds of manure.

Now, a new energy project in rural Wyoming County aims to be a model for using cow waste and by-products from food processing to generate electricity.

New $300 million medical building opens in Buffalo

May 30, 2012
Daniel Robison / Innovation Trail and WBFO

The newest addition to Buffalo’s skyline has opened its doors.

The 10-story, $300 million Gates Vascular Institute/Clinical and Translational Research Center houses a state-of-the-art surgery center, research labs and a business incubator.

IDA reform bill stuck in neutral

May 26, 2012
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.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The apple crop in New York is the second-largest in the country, behind only Washington State. Cherries, peaches, apricots and grapes are also big business in New York.