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Senate axes regional economic councils, manufacturing index up

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Governor Cuomo introduced the idea of regional economic councils in his state of the state address, but a lack of details led Republicans to signal their displeasure - with an axe.

The state Senate has taken the governor's proposed regional economic councils out of the budget, reports Brian Amaral at the Watertown Daily Times.  "Lack of details" about the plan was the complaint from senate Republicans:

"We don't have a lot of information on how they would operate or who they would be comprised of," said Mark Hansen, a spokesman for the Senate GOP. "We'll be discussing the budget with the governor as we go along." Senate Democrats, on the other hand, condemned the move. "The economic councils that Senate Republicans eliminated represent the new, forward thinking vision Governor Cuomo has brought to Albany," Senate Democratic conference spokesman Travis Proulx said in an e-mail. "It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for Senate Republicans to reject the governor's plan without offering any alternatives to bolster the economy in Upstate New York."

Manufacturing index

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's manufacturing survey shows that "general business conditions" are rising, reports Andrea Deckert at the Rochester Business Journal.  A slight majority of respondents expected "future" general business conditions to improve:

In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked about recent and expected changes in firms' borrowing needs, changes in credit availability and the effects of such changes. Firms indicated they expected borrowing needs to increase somewhat, on balance, over the next year. On the issue of changes in credit availability, respondents reported steady to slightly tighter conditions—both over the past three months and over the past year. Nearly one-third of those surveyed reported borrowing costs had risen over the past three months, while 3 percent said they had declined.

GlobalFoundries

GlobalFoundries, the chip fabrication plant that's charged with supercharging Albany's "Tech Valley" economy, has been approved for a new building.  Larry Rulison reports at the Times Union:

GlobalFoundries, which is already building a $4.6 billion computer chip "fab" at Luther Forest, was targeting next month for the planning board approval. But Tuesday night's meeting went so smoothly that the vote was held at this month's meeting. The only condition is that GlobalFoundries work with the town and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to clear up a minor unrelated storm water drainage issue at the site. Despite the early approval, Steve Groseclose, director of risk management, health and safety and real estate for GlobalFoundries, said the new building is "still on track" for a May groundbreaking.

PAETEC

Monroe County is dishing up almost $6.4 million in tax breaks for PAETEC Holding's new headquarters, reports Matt Daneman at the Democrat and Chronicle.  The deal was approved by the county's industrial development agency (COMIDA) yesterday, and covers 10 years of incentives for sales, mortgage and property taxes:

In exchange for those tax breaks, PAETEC is committing to initially move 700 of its 838 area employees to the 223,000-square-foot building and create 70 additional jobs over the next three years. Eventually, the telecommunications company anticipates having 1,000 workers in the headquarters building, Bret Garwood, the city's director of business and housing development, said at the meeting. No PAETEC officials were at the COMIDA meeting. Speaking on the company's behalf, Garwood said, "Everyone knows how important this project is to the city. I'd hate to know where Midtown Plaza would be today" without PAETEC's involvement.

Rare earth metals

Senator Charles Schumer is still in a pique about China throttling the international supply of rare earth metals, used for the production of sophisticated lenses and optics.  Matt Daneman at the D&C has the story:

Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, are among signers of a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the U.S. representatives on multilateral banks, including the World Bank, to block funding for Chinese rare-earth mining or production projects and that any Chinese-funded mining or mineral-exploration projects in the United States be blocked. Chinese officials are "ratcheting up their export controls, whether it's taxes or licenses or other ways in which they're holding back these materials being available," Stabenonw said Tuesday. "They're also not allowing our companies to participate in Chinese mining projects even though they're allowed to participate here in our country."

Xerox

Kodak and Xerox operations in Japan are largely unaffected by the earthquake reports (who else) Matt Daneman at the D&C.  Kodak's facility should be back online soon, a spokesman tells the paper, and Xerox manufacturing was unaffected.

Meanwhile, the Ethisphere Institute think tank says Xerox is one its "world's most ethical companies" (for the fifth year in a row).  What's it take to be an ethical company?  You have to be nominated (or nominate yourself), fill out a survey about ethics, and pass a series of evaluations of your codes, litigation history and business practices, reports Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes:

"Based on the information in that survey, Ethisphere verifies responses before a final score is provided," says Alex Brigham, executive director of the Ethisphere Institute. "Some of the information is easily verified and publicly available, and other times we request that companies send us non-public information to validate responses. This could include training policies, whistle-blower programs, internal tone-from-the-top communications and so forth." Once the pool is culled down to a few hundred, Ethisphere cross-checks it against governance lists from organizations including GovernanceMetricsInternational and FTSE for Good. Any company that has had significant legal trouble over the past five years is dropped. Companies that focus on alcohol, tobacco or firearms also get the boot.

Foursquare fail

And finally, NY Convergence reports via CNN that Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare and Syracuse University alumn, got beat by a nine-year-old in actual foursquare at South by Southwest.  Check in on that!

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