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The 800 pound butter sculpture of a scene off the farm (seen here on the World Dairy Business Blog) is usually the headliner at the Dairy Building of the New York State Fair.But people wait in a long line for another hot item being used to promote New York’s dairy industry: a cup of milk that costs a quarter at the dairy bar.That includes a young James Moore, who says "It’s the best chocolate milk and white milk I’ve ever tasted in my life." "The Chocolate is more chocolaty and it’s nice and cold."The milk is all whole milk, which probably helps. Chocolate milk rules overall. The milk bar serves five cups of chocolate for every cup of plain milk.Mary Ellen Chesbro, agricultural manager for the fair says the total cups served goes up every year. This year, she's hoping the milk bar will top 400,000 cups of milk out this year.The whole operation is run by a task force of volunteers from the dairy industry, from farmers to distributors. The goal is to promote New York dairy – the state’s biggest agricultural product.Seventeen-year old Dale Durant, who serves milk to fairgoers says it can get pretty busy at the counter."Really nice days there’s a lot of people here. Weekends we get really busy."So to get a taste, go when it’s raining.And keep an eye out for the other smart entrepreneurial move in the Dairy building - the Syracuse bakery selling cookies next to the milk bar.

Cuomo outlines innovation 'hot spots' and promotion of upstate

via Flickr

In an attempt to boost New York’s entrepreneurial atmosphere, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed new “Innovation Hot Spots” in his third State of the State speech Wednesday. They would be areas where startups can get free assistance and maybe even a break from taxes.

Cuomo pointed out the state struggles to bring in venture capital, or investment dollars, for startups. California and its Silicon Valley rakes in 47 percent of venture capital dollars in the country.

New York’s 4 percent cut pales by comparison.

Cuomo has proposed in his 2013 agenda creating a $50 million state-run venture capital fund. That fund will, in part, pay for the “hot spots”.

According to the governor’s proposal, there will be 10 designated “hot spots” across the state. They can be new or existing incubators. How those locations are picked will fall to his Regional Economic Development Councils. Five of those locations will be picked to be tax free zones for two years at a time by the governor’s administration.

Companies that start in a “hot spot” will not have to pay property taxes, business or sales taxes for the first five years of their existence. The five designated “hot spots” will also be given additional state support.

Promotion of upstate

Among initiatives aimed at developing upstate New York's economy, the governor announced today two efforts to promote the region's agriculture and natural resources. 

Taste-NY will promote New York-grown and produced products through statewide duty-free stores.

And the Adirondack Challenge will promote whitewater rafting in the state through a new national competition in the sport, which will be hosted in the north country. 

In addition, a $5 million advertising competition will be held to help bring counties together to coordinate regional marketing efforts. 

You can read the whole State of the State here.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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