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Consumers split, business and universities together at showcase

Numbers DO look different in NYC from the view upstate.
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Numbers DO look different in NYC from the view upstate.

Here's a surprise. People in upstate and downstate don't agree on the state of the New York economy. Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle has the latest results of Siena's regular polling of consumer confidence:

The overall confidence index fell 4 points to a reading of 64.3 in the Rochester area. The index also dropped in Buffalo (to 63.1), Syracuse (61.5), Utica and the mid-Hudson area. The biggest drop was 7.8 points in Syracuse. Sentiment improved in Binghamton, but even that was colored by the fact that Binghamton's confidence level was the lowest in the state during the fourth quarter of 2010. The 3-point improvement, to a reading of 61.4 in the first quarter, merely means that Binghamton no longer is the gloomiest place in New York. That distinction now belongs to Utica (60.2). In comparison, downstaters are practically giddy. The index rose by 4.4 points to 74.8 in New York City and by 3.4 points to 71.1 on Long Island.

Science fair 2.0

Rochester also played host to a higher-ed science fair on Wednesday, hosting researchers from around the region.

The aim was to play matchmaker between the research going on in labs at a variety of upstate universities and the corporations that might be interested in taking it to the marketplace, said Mark F. Bocko, director of CEIS — which is based at UR and is one of 15 state-funded university/industry technology collaboration centers.

Businesses adopt green tech

Marketplace reports that around the country, green power may be reaching a tipping point for businesses, as more companies start generating their own power on-site.

A lot of companies that have invested in solar, wind or other cleaner forms of power have done so for public relations, says energy analyst Sam Jaffe. Sam Jaffe: They're much more willing to invest in low-carbon renewable technologies that have a larger social goal. But he says in the past year, what started as a way to save the planet is becoming a way to, well, save money. A big part of that is banks. As public utility prices go up and technologies like solar panels get cheaper, banks are more willing to make loans for clean energy projects. Jaffe: Innovation in financing and new financing models can have as much impact as any technological breakthrough. It becomes very attractive to business investors.

The weather vane of all corporate trends: Walmart, is in the game. Walmart has pilot projects using renewables and fuel cells. The company's VP for energy told Marketplace that locking in prices with its own generators as energy costs rise is saving the company money.

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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