WNY Competes For Even More Economic Development Funding

From the Morning Memo:

Starting with the Buffalo Billion and now Phase II of the governor’s signature economic development initiative, the state has made Western New York a priority for roughly the past half a decade.

As a result, members of the local regional economic development team know securing even more funding could be a big ask.

“It is a little bit difficult for us to win this competition because we already won over a billion and a half dollars in state support for our strategic initiatives including this one, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, but I would say this team is very impressed by the turnaround they’ve seen in Western New York and Buffalo in particular,” WNY REDC co-chairman Jeff Belt said.

The team is striving to put its best foot forward when it comes to New York’s annual regional competition. Every year it puts together a report on its strategy, progress and project priorities for the coming year.

On Wednesday, team members toured a number of projects in order to highlight what has already been done. The five-county region is focusing on key industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, bi-national logistics, energy, health & life sciences, higher education, professional services and tourism.

The latest report proposed new state investment of at least $20 million dollars, which the team believes it could use to leverage another $75 million in private investment. They said it would create 195 new jobs, 748 indirect jobs, and retain 290 existing jobs.

“Through the stops on today’s tour, the WNYREDC was able to showcase the priority projects that fit well into the council’s core strategies,” said the other Co-Chair and President of the State University of New York at Fredonia, Dr. Virginia Horvath.

“Our progress report demonstrates how we are moving forward and how we will continue to do so on our path to prosperity. The collective support of the state and the region as a whole over the last seven years has been the key factor in making sure Western New York has a bright future.”

Officials said the governor is expected to make a decision on additional funding in December.


New York Won’t Require Union Jobs As Part Of Amazon Package

From the Morning Memo:

Amazon is planning to build a new headquarters somewhere in the U.S. in the near future, potentially adding up to 50,000 jobs at whichever lucky location – or locations – get chosen.

Like so many other states across the nation, New York is pushing hard to win this contest.

While metro regions like Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and New York City are putting together the most attractive incentive packages they can, a large portion of what’s being offered will come from the state, and Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky said the package will be basically the same for any region that applies.

They have not decided on final numbers yet, but ESDC officials follow metrics based on the number of positions a company promises to bring and how well those jobs pay.

“We have a pretty good idea of what other cities may do based on the numbers Amazon has given us, so we’ll be competitive,” Zemsky said.

While the state is looking, of course, for good-paying jobs, Zemsky said the incentive package will not require any of those positions to be earmarked for union members.

“From my perspective, that’s between Amazon and…the unions, but that’s not a stipulation,” he said.

New York labor unions will likely have a difficult time organizing workers, even with an influx of thousands of jobs at once. Amazon has a long and well-documented history of squashing labor movements.

And convincing the state to add stipulations in the midst of an ultra-competitive process is likely a non-starter, since other states won’t make similar demands.

“We don’t really specify in that respect,” Zemsky said. “So we’ll work with them, but we’re trying to attract 50,000 jobs.”

Empire State Development and New York said they have a good professional relationship with the company, which already led to the announcement of 4,250 more jobs in New York City earlier this month.

NY Unemployment Rate Increased In July

New York’s unemployment rate jumped to 4.7 percent in July after its private-sector job count grew by 0.2 percent.

The Labor Department announced on Thursday New York’s overall job count grew by 18,800, or 8.1 million.

But July was the third straight month in a row the state’s unemployment rate has increased. In April, unemployment stood at 4.4 percent.

“The State’s private sector job count increased by 18,800 in July 2017, reaching a new record high. New York State’s economy has also now added more than one million private sector jobs since the beginning of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration,” said Bohdan Wynnyk, the director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in July stood at 4.3 percent.

NY Unemployment Ticks Upward In June

New York’s unemployment rate ticked upward in June to 4.5 percent as private-sector job growth remained relatively flat, growing by 23,000.

The Department of Labor in its announcement provided a rosy take on the unemployment picture, pointing to the state’s private-sector job count at more than 8 million — “a new record high.”

“New York’s labor market continued to expand in June 2017,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics. “The State’s private sector job count increased by 23,900, reaching a new record high.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate last month stood slightly lower, at 4.4 percent. Job growth nationally grew by 0.2 percent, while in New York it grew by 0.3 percent.

In New York City, the jobless rate stood at 4.4 percent last month. Outside of New York City, it is 4.6 percent.

Signs Buffalo Tesla Factory Near Production

From the Morning Memo:

Empire State Development Corporation is maintaining a positive public outlook about the new Tesla/SolarCity solar panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. Panasonic, a Tesla partner, hosted an informational meeting Tuesday evening in Buffalo.

The companies appear ready to start filling the factory up with full-time employees instead of construction workers.

“There’s a lot of equipment being installed. There’s hundreds of jobs being advertised,” ESD President Howard Zemsky said. “There’s several job fairs, I think three, going on around the city in different locations. We’ve met with Tesla recently.”

SolarCity has promised to create 3,000 jobs in the region including 500 manufacturing positions,  a number which has changed, like the companies and the industry, since the project was first announced as the anchor of the governor’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Zemsky said some of those changes, like the Panasonic partnership, are paying dividends though.

“I think that combination, the market cap and the depth and breadth of manufacturing experience, obviously is bringing itself to bear on that facility,” Zemsky said

Although media hasn’t been allowed in recently to see the progress, Zemsky believes the general public would be impressed with the factory.

“There’s a ton of equipment being installed there and that’s, I think, going to be an extremely dynamic factory,” he said. “They’ve developed new products since they’ve acquired the facility or since they’ve acquired SolarCity.”

The ESD president said regardless of whether federal energy policies change, the demand for solar and clean energy is growinng. He said Tesla will be supplying national and potentially international markets.


Unemployment In NY Falls To 4.6 Percent

Unemployment in New York fell in January from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent after the private sector increased its job count by 28,500, according to the Department of Labor.

The lower statewide rate was driven by a decline in New York City’s joblessness, which fell from 4.9 percent to 4.5 percent, its lowest level since 1976.

The low unemployment rate is not being felt everywhere: In Rochester and in the Dutchess-Putnam area jobs were lost in the last year.

Between January 2016 and January 2017, jobs in Rochester declined by 1,100, while 1,900 jobs were lost in the Hudson Valley counties.

Still, New York’s unemployment rate is now lower than the national rate, which stands at 4.8 percent.

“The State’s labor market continued to expand in January 2017. Not only did the statewide economy reach a new record high of more than 8,000,000 private sector jobs, but our state’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

Unemployment Rate Drops In November

New York’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month as the state’s private-sector job count increased by 4,800.

The state unemployment at the same time fell from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent last month, according to numbers released by the Department of Labor.

“The State’s labor market improved in November 2016. The statewide economy added 4,800 private sector jobs, while New York’s unemployment rate decreased from 5.2% to 5.1% in November,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

Unemployment had been ticking upward over the last several months in New York, but typically employers add more jobs in the lead up to the holiday season.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is lower than in New York, standing at 4.6 percent last month.

In Metro Areas, A Bump In Unemployment

Metro areas last month experienced an increase in overall unemployment, while non-metro areas in New York stayed flat, a report from the state Department of Labor found.

The report released on Tuesday shows metro areas in New York with a 5 percent unemployment, an increase from 4.7 percent in October 2015.

One of the biggest jumps was in New York City, where unemployment has increased from 5.1 percent last year to 5.6 percent.

In non-metro counties, the unemployment rate has been flat year over year at 4.9 percent, the report found.

The county with the lowest unemployment rate was Columbia County at 3.5 percent, while the Bronx had the highest last month at 7.7 percent.

Exelon Plans to Refuel FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba

Via our colleagues at TWC News in central New York:

There is another sign of hope for the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba, as current owner Entergy plans to proceed with refueling the facility.

Entergy had been planning to decommission FitzPatrick, until a last-minute purchase offer was made by Exelon, which owns two other nuclear plants in the area.

The sale was approved by the state Public Service Commission last week, but it still needs to be approved by federal agencies.

Entergy plans to refuel this January, as late as possible, but they expect the process to be done by the time the sale closes.

Officials say they remain prepared to decommission the plant if necessary, but they say that appears much less likely after last week.

NY Unemployment Increases For Third Straight Month

For the third month in a row, New York’s unemployment rate increased, according to numbers released on Thursday by the Department of Labor.

The statewide employment rate in October stood at 5.2 percent, an increase from September’s 5 percent unemployment rate. In August, unemployment stood at 4.8 percent.

In a release, the DOL put a rosier spin on the numbers, noting the state’s overall job count in the last year climbed 1.1 percent.

“Looking over the past year, the New York State economy has added 89,900 private sector jobs,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Deputy Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

But as E.J. McMahon at the Empire Center notes, the growth rate is lower than the 1.7 percent federal rate over the last 12 months.