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Energy

Funding flux, and good-bye Gray Lady

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Dom Dada
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The New York Times' publisher says the paper won't be a print publication at some point. This does not bode well for those using it for weed control.

Funding ups and downs

Empire State Development has granted a quarter of a million dollars to three companies in the Rochester area.

Outside Syracuse, $28 million worth of state money will be used to help commercialize nanotechnology at a former GE lab.  The Post-Standard has the details:

It also will give new life to a laboratory, closed for 14 years, that once produced breakthroughs in television tubes, pacemakers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.Work on the 100,000-square-foot building, located on the former GE campus now known as the Electronics Park office and industrial center, could start by the end of the year. It will take about a year and a half to complete, said Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity, the nonprofit development organization that will oversee the renovation and manage the center for the state.

In Utica, GroWest Inc., the agency tasked with promoting home ownership on the western side of the city is under the microscope.  The Observer-Dispatch reports:

The newly released summary of a months-long investigation into nonprofit agency GroWest Inc. paints a strikingly dysfunctional portrait of the agency and details a system of steering jobs toward certain contractors, purchasing materials seemingly unrelated to specific jobs, falsifying time sheets and even intimidating homeowners into signing forms saying work had been completed when it had not.

The issues could threaten Utica’s federal funding for housing.

In Owego, Lockheed Martin and Whiting-Turner have gotten a contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs to build a biomass facility at the Canandaigua VA.  The Press & Sun-Bulletin says the plant will help stabilize energy costs.

And in the Times-Union, there’s a report thatthe late state budget ruined a landscaper’s year by dangling Department of Transportation business before him – and then snatching it away.

Banking news

There’s a batch of pieces out today about banking.  The Buffalo News says First Niagara’s proposed acquisition of a Connecticut bank cements Buffalo’s reputation as a banking center. 

Five Star bank is opening up another branch in Monroe County

The Democrat and Chronicle reports that ESL Federal Credit Union cropped up on the “Best Medium Workplace” list (at number 12) compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management.   And the New York Times has a story about how low interest rates are a boon to borrowers – and a bane for retirees looking to live off their savings.

More shale coverage

The battle lines are being drawn over hydrofacturing in the Marcellus shale, leading up to Monday and Wednesday’s EPA hearings.  The Innovation Trail will be sending reporters down Monday to capture the voices of folks who oppose natural gas exploitation, and those who favor it.  Tomorrow, look for a post about what you need to know to get up to speed on the issue.

The Press & Sun-Bulletin has a couple of pieces about fracking.  Yesterday they reported that an ad hoc committee had been formed to study fracking issues – there are more details today.  And the paper also has a report about Pennsylvania’s discovery that methane has been found in wells and a river following drilling in Bradford County.

Martini metaphor

Rod Watson at the Buffalo News comes down on the side of People United for Sustainable Housing in their row with National Fuel over reducing heating bills.  The utility won’t come to the table, saying it has its own programs to help poor customers.  Watson says:

It’s an attitude that raises a question: What’s in the martinis around here that makes corporate honchos think they don’t even need to talk to grass-roots groups?

In other libation news, the paper has an update on the progress of a “nanobrewery” that was hoping to set up shop.  A nanobrewery, as you will recall, is an even smaller brewing operation than a microbrewery. 

Community Beer Works is hoping to take an old malt storehouse full circle, and turn it into their brewery.  We are following this story very closely.

College rankings

Buffalo and Rochester topped the charts on the American Institute for Economic Research’s rankings of best college towns.  Buffalo News has the story on the Queen City coming in ninthRochester comes in eighth, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.  Not a bad finish, considering last year’s slot for the Flower City was number 16.

Expansions

In Buffalo, Shatter I.T. is expanding downtownCooperVision in Rochester is buying a Japanese contact lens firm

GM is introducing the Chevrolet Cruze , an energy efficient compact, that requires the addition of a third shift at the company’s Lordstown, Ohio plant.  And Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s Troy location is hiring 80 folks as it expands its delicious empire.

Get your shots

The Democrat and Chronicle reports that it’s time for your flu vaccine, as this year’s supply comes online: 

Flu vaccine is formulated each year to include protection against the three strains of flu virus that health officials predict will be circulating most widely among people. This fall, in addition to the H1N1 virus or "swine flu" strain that dominated last year, the seasonal flu vaccine targets an H3N2 strain and an influenza B virus.

Unshackle issues correction

After putting politicians on blast last week, Unshackle Upstate has updated its scoring of the business friendliness of New York elected officials.  A spokesman says none of the updates are “game changers.”  Apparently the missteps were the result of data entry errors.

Rate hike decision due soon

New York’s Public Service Commission is weighing whether or not to allow Rochester Gas and Electric and New York State Electric & Gas to increase rates.  The increase requests came following the acquisition of the firms’ by Iberdrola, a Spanish utility.  The decision about the increase could come next Thursday, according to the Democrat and Chronicle:

If the commission approves the increases next week, a typical RG&E customer who gets electricity and natural gas from the company would see the monthly bill increase by $14.86 over three years. The monthly bill for the typical NYSEG customer would be $16.88 higher once the rate increases were in full effect in September 2012.

Tops on top

There are a couple of articles about Tops today, as the grocer revamps its image.  The Post-Standard has the details about a new campaign to make CEO Frank Curci the face of the firm.  And the Observer-Dispatch follows the transition of local stores from the P&C Foods brand to Tops Friendly Markets, following an acquisition.

High tech/low tech

To wrap up, a fun dichotomy.  Yesterday New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger told a London audience that at some point “in the future,” the Gray Lady will stop printing a paper edition.  But if you’re old school, and still getting the dead tree edition, the Times recommends that you use it to suppress weeds

On the high tech side of the coin, the Press & Sun-Bulletin is reporting that Lourdes Hospital is celebrating its 100th robotic surgery.  The $2 million dollar machine hit the century mark at the end of August.  No word yet on whether or not the robot’s mother still wishes it had gone to law school. 

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