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Empire state of mind: not so great actually

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C.Y. Chow
via Flickr
The Empire state of mind: our government is broken, but at least we've got our friends.

According to two new polls New Yorkers are a jaded bunch.  Quinnipiac finds that, unsurprisingly, 89 percent of New Yorkers think their state government is busted (Democrat and Chronicle).  And Siena Research Institute finds that New Yorkers lag in donating to charity and volunteerism.  But we do hang out with our friends and read the paper.  Details at the Times Union.

Richards defends PAETEC deal
Rochester's deputy mayor stepped into a mayoral role on Wednesday, co-presenting at a "Repositioning Rochester" luncheon with county executive Maggie Brooks.  Richards is likely to take over current mayor Bob Duffy's job when he leaves for Albany as Andrew Cuomo's new lieutenant governor.  During the event Richards discussed Rochester's deal with PAETEC Communications to site their new headquarters downtown.  No deal has been signed yet, but PAETEC wants one by the end of the year to solidify details like free parking for employees:

The issue of Midtown arose in Richards' speech. He conceded that the city is under pressure, but told the audience of hundreds that he hoped to get a PAETEC agreement this month "while Bob Duffy is mayor." After the speech, Richards said regardless of PAETEC's moves, the $55 million demolition of the Midtown Plaza complex, making way for new development downtown, is a major accomplishment.

Bank acquisition on the rocks
First Niagara's bid to take over Connecticut-based NewAlliance Bancshares is being criticized by politicians who say the deal could result in "loss of jobs and a drop in local lending," reports the Buffalo News:

[New Haven, Conn. mayor JOhn] DeStefano is projecting that as many as 370 out of 1,200 jobs will be lost, the NewAlliance headquarters tower in downtown New Haven will be sold, and lending to low-income borrowers and small businesses will fall. "This is what will happen," he said during the press news conference, citing First Niagara's past performance in other mergers. He also cited an analysis of First Niagara's lending patterns in other communities, which found it makes 30 percent fewer loans in its markets to low- and moderate-income borrowers than other banks, and 28 percent fewer loans to small-business borrowers, especially in amounts of less than $100,000.

First Niagara says it will "seek to minimize" job losses, according to the paper.

Watching the river
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) has installed water monitors in the Susquehanna basin to watch water quality in anticipation of the beginning of hydrofracking in the Southern Tier, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

The Apalachin monitoring system was installed on a piece of public property off Main Street near Billings Road. It has two major components: a foot-long tube with five sensors surrounded by submerged PVC pipe, and a metal box on land that collects data and sends it to the SRBC office in Harrisburg, Pa. The SRBC will install one other station in Tioga County and another in Nanticoke Creek in Broome County, with four of the others slated for Chemung and Steuben counties. Twenty-seven have already been built in Pennsylvania, with three more set to be installed by years' end through a grant from natural gas company East Resources. A grant for an additional 10 could be on the way, SRBC spokesman Susan Obleski said.

Epitaph for smokestacks
Syracuse's "Project Orange" power plant is set to be demolished, removing two smokestacks from the city's horizon, reports the Post-Standard:

Bankrupt and mired in lawsuits, the Taylor Street facility will be demolished at a cost of $2.5 million to settle its legal battle with Syracuse University, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Project Orange leased space next to SU’s aging steam station and produced steam for the university until last year. A contract dispute prompted SU to start making its own steam again.

High tech Albany
The Times Union reports that a national study of growing tech regions determined that Albany was at the top of the list:

The CyberCities report, which evaluated 2009 data, found 21,274 high-tech jobs in the Capital Region with average annual pay of $78,000, which is $37,000 more than the average local private-sector salary. The most significant finding was that the Capital Region is the third-fastest growing high-tech area in the country, behind only Oklahoma City and Huntsville, Ala.

Want proof?  A student company based in the incubator at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale and Engineering recently met with a venture capitalist as part of their march to sustainability.

You can read the CyberCities report here.

Management training for government
The town of Amherst is going to give Six Sigma a try in its Building, Highway, Police, Planning, and Youth and Recreation departments reports the Buffalo News.  The training will cost $24,000 in an initial pilot program:

“I’ll listen to what they have to say,” said Building Commissioner Thomas C. Ketchum, “but I’m not sure how that Six Sigma program works into a public agency such as ours, where you’re dealing with such a varied amount of activity and complexity as you go from one issue to the next.”

Earmark troubles ahead for N.Y.
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that rumblings in Congress about ending earmark spending could put many New York projects in jeopardy:

Projects at risk range from $150,000 for a youth development action plan for the city of Mount Vernon to $5 million to dredge harbors along Lake Ontario in places such as Rochester, and $4 million for research on energy-efficient electronic systems at SUNY Binghamton.

NASA cash
Three Albany-area firms could be blasting off with NASA funding, reports the Times Union.  Ceralink, Kitware and Free Form Fibers could receive funding through the Small Business innovation Research program.

Social media conference
The Rochester Institute of Technology held its Social Media and Communication Symposium yesterday.  In attendance: Jeff Jarvis, CUNY professor and author of What Would Google Do?, Josh Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, and the Innovation Trail's Zack Seward and Rachel Ward.  Ok, so maybe we weren't keynote speakers, but we did have a great time talking about how we can better serve and engage our audience. 

You can get a quick summary of the conference from the Democrat and Chronicle, or check out my Twitter timeline @uberlegitimate for live-tweeting of the first session about how journalists use social media (featuring Zack), and the final session about the future of social media (featuring WXXI's Steve Dawe, Benton, and friend of the Trail, Kevin Purdy).

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