Ryan Morden

Reporter, WRVO

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle.  He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies.  Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project.  Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.

Prior to his work at N3, Morden worked as an assistant morning news editor at KIRO radio, a commercial news/talk station in Seattle.  He also produced talk shows for CBS Radio commentators Dave Ross and Ron Reagan.

Morden enjoys government and politics, reading non-fiction and literature from the edges, baseball, road trips, brew pubs, road races and catching up on TV shows online.  He currently serves as a freelancer, covering congressional issues.

Ways to Connect

borisvolodnikov / via Flickr

Earlier this week a judge approved a $773 million cleanup deal between the White House and Motors Liquidation Company (otherwise known as “Old GM”). The money will go to restoring toxic properties where former plants once stood. The Inland Fisher Guide plant in Salina, N.Y. is among the properties included in the settlement. There are 89 properties in 14 states total.

Sam Howzit / via Flickr

Federal agencies have been dealing with slimmer budgets lately. That means they’re more willing to work with small companies, who might not have a ton of brand name recognition, but which are motivated to offer low-bid deals to nab a contract.

That's according to Marek Podgorny, CEO of Collabworx. The Syracuse-based firm landed a pilot deal with the FBI a couple of years ago, and now that deal has been extended into a longer term relationship.

Podgorny acknowledges that working with a start-up like his might be risky for an agency, since the firm has a shorter track record. But they're also smaller and cheaper than the IBMs and Adobes of the world, which Podgorny says his company beat out for the $1.2 million deal.

So what will Collabworx do for the FBI? Make it more efficient to share data like videos, satellite images, and documents without taking up significant bandwidth, and protect that data using complex security.

Collabworx and another business - Govsphere - will administer the program for the agency. Both firms are located in the Tech Garden, a business incubator in Syracuse


To be clear, what the FBI is actually using the software for is classified. The examples that we gave above, sharing videos and satellite images, are just that: examples of what the software is capable of, according to Podgorny. They don't represent what the agency will actually be doing with Collabworx conferencing software.

Ryan Morden / WRVO

When you ask Gene Phrampus about the cost of operating his truck, he lets out a long depressed sigh, and then lays out his financial difficulties. Specifically, his fuel costs, which range from $45,000-$50,000 a year.

That’s as much as the median household income in the United States. After all the expenses of running his truck, what’s left for him isn’t much.

“Somebody at McDonald’s [who] gets a little check every week sometimes makes more than I do,” says Phrampus.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory / via Flickr

All across the Thruway there are businesses devoted to helping businesses get started.

Syracuse has its "Tech Garden" business incubator, Rochester is home to High Tech Rochester, and Buffalo has UB's technology incubator. Each offering gives entrepreneurs  coaching and office space, in the hopes of nurturing a profitable venture that spurs job creation and economic growth.

So not to be outdone, officials in Potsdam, up in the North Country, are considering a "food incubator."

Ryan Morden / WRVO

Construction crews in Syracuse are hard at work on the transformation of a former synagogue into a state-of-the-art, LEED certified hotel.  Their mission: to get the facility up and running by April 1.

Tom Fernandez with Woodbine Group, owner of Hotel Skyler, says the facility’s green credibility should be a draw for those who want to travel and leave as small a carbon footprint as possible

“Especially with the close vicinity to SUNY-ESF [the school of environmental science and forestry], everything going on with Syracuse University ... going on with the hospitals," says Fernandez, "I think the presence of where the hotel is will draw a lot of traffic to it.”

Trying to carve out a new niche of travelers will be key for Skyler.  It's entering the market in the Syracuse University neighborhood, where there are already several other hotels, including two properties owned by the Woodbine Group.

So what is different about Sklyer?