May 2016 Cover Story: Economic Development

Securing a stronger future for the north country

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Despite workforce challenges, regional economic development continues to power positive growth across Northern New York

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A rural and historically challenged region where economic development was often stagnant, the Great Recession dealt a significant blow to New York’s north country as its counties saw a spike in unemployment and manufacturing jobs disappear, including about 600 from Jefferson County alone. [Read more…]

Government largest employer in St. Lawrence County

CANTON — By far, the greatest number of jobs in St. Lawrence County are in the government sector, which also provides the second highest average salaries, according to a new economic development report. [Read more…]

Study outlines 5-year strategy to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy

Matt Warren, right, a customer support representative for Frazer Computing, Inc. provides phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing, Inc., 6196 US-11 in Canton. Also pictured is Mike Burnett, left, also a customer support representative. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

Matt Warren, right, and Mike Burnett provide customer phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing Inc., Route 11, Canton. A five-year plan compiled for the New York Power Authority recommends small business growth among ways to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

CANTON — A $4 million economic development study just released by the New York Power Authority lays out a five-year strategy for reversing St. Lawrence County’s stagnant economy. [Read more…]

January 2016 Cover Story: Economic Outlook

Slow and steady
growth wins the race

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Despite a few challenges, experts say the region is on pace for a positive year in 2016. Six sectors of the north country’s economy are ripe with opportunities for growth.

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A grim fate cast a pall over the north country in early 2015, as federal budget sequestration threatened to cut up to 16,000 personnel from Fort Drum in an effort by the army to trim its active duty force from 490,000 to 450,000 by fiscal year 2017. [Read more…]

Economic Outlook 2015

The long road to recovery is less bumpy

Signs of a still-strengthening economy are starting to percolate as new opportunities across the region are born


Now that the country seems to be making its way out of the Great Recession, most sectors of the economy across the board and across the north country seem to be on an upswing for the coming year.

“If I had to pick a best bet – agriculture,” said Gregory A. Gardner, an assistant professor of business at SUNY Potsdam and a regional authority on Northern New York’s economy. “Especially the wineries and nondairy areas of agriculture. It has the strongest growth rate.”

Mr. Gardner also listed retail, construction and health care as sectors we can expect to see on an uptick, while retail and hospitality have tempered down.

“If I had any sort of bad news, it would be that the U.S. dollar is going to stay very strong, or get even stronger, through 2015,” he said. “That’s going to slow Canadian sales.”

The real wild card will be the military, the one sector dealing the highest impact to the rest.

“If they do move troops out of Fort Drum, that’s going to hurt our economy pretty much across the board,” he said. “There’s a ripple effect. It doesn’t just touch businesses that sell to Fort Drum, but businesses that sell to businesses that sell to Fort Drum. It would ripple through virtually every sector of our economy.” [Read more…]

Federal, state, local dignitaries help kick off Alcoa modernization project

Along with elected officials and community leaders, Alcoa celebrated the groundbreaking for the modernization and expansion of the company’s East Plant. Bob Beckstead/ Johnson Newspapers

Using shovels made from aluminum, federal, state and local officials turned the first clumps of dirt Monday at Alcoa’s East Plant to kick off the company’s more than $600 million expansion and modernization of its manufacturing facility here.

“After years of uncertainty, delay and hurdles on the federal and state level, all that’s left is to get shovels in the ground, champagne corks in the air and hundreds of new paychecks signed, sealed and delivered to Alcoa workers,” U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said during the noon ceremony. [Read more…]

Air Brake closing Ontario plant; 50 jobs moving to Watertown

New York Air Brake LLC (NYAB) is closing its Knorr Brake Limited (KBL) facility in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and is expected to move up to 50 jobs to Watertown.

The phased transition will begin in the fall and operations are expected to cease by early 2014, according to a Air Brake press release. The KBL facility produces New York Air Brake’s locomotive braking products. [Read more…]

QubicaAMF implements lean manufacturing at Lowville plant

The QubicaAMF bowling pin plant in Lowville has been implementing lean manufacturing practices over the past year and a half. Photo by Steve Virkler/Watertown Daily Times.

LOWVILLE — While the bowling pins and lanes made at the QubicaAMF plant haven’t gotten leaner over the past year and a half, the manufacturing process has.

Employees at the Utica Boulevard plant, at which most of the world’s wooden bowling pins are manufactured, have been undergoing lean manufacturing training and implementation sessions conducted by CITEC Inc., Potsdam, using Regional Wood Products Consortium funding through the Northern Forest Center in Concord, N.H. [Read more…]

Hot jobs for the future

Despite recruiting challenges, health care and manufacturing poised for growth

Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services trains both high school students and adults in technical fields such as nursing and with skills such as welding for careers in the manufacturing field. Photo by Norm Johnston/NNY Business.

As the country heads into 2013 with high expectations for continued economic recovery, the focus in Northern New York and across the United States remains solidly on jobs and job growth. As unemployment rates in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties waver from month to month, no tried and true trend lines have emerged. But business leaders across the north country are optimistic that job growth is in the immediate future. Developing a strategy for growing jobs and identifying potential markets for industries that bring jobs with them has been at the forefront of dozens of discussions in the past several months.

While economists are leery to express too much joy over a growing jobs market, the New York State Department of Labor released a statement in late December outlining how the state added 83,500 private sector jobs last year and the statewide unemployment rate fell from 8.7 percent to 8.3 percent. Industries with the highest rate of growth statewide included professional and business services, educational and health services and trade, transportation and utilities, adding a collective 98,100 jobs in the state. [Read more…]

A recipe that sticks

Nearly 10 years after production started, North American Tapes growing

Darrin R. Prance, founder of North American Tapes, Watertown, in his office. Photo by Amanda Morrison/NNY Business.

Darrin R. Prance, founder of North American Tapes, Watertown, in his office. Photo by Amanda Morrison/NNY Business.

In 2004, Darrin R. Prance and business partner Martin J. LeMoine launched North American Tapes LLC in Watertown, with Mr. Prance serving as company president, Mr. LeMoine as vice president of sales, and a dozen employees. In nine short years, the firm has doubled its work force — and its footprint. Mr. Prance talks about the journey and his firm’s bright future. [Read more…]