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…]

JCIDA OKs 10-year tax break for Watertown business incubator

Finishing a nearly yearlong negotiation process, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s board of directors approved a 10-year tax break on Thursday for the Watertown Center for Business and Industry. [Read more…]

JCIDA chief: $15-an-hour proposal could drive ‘handful’ of area businesses out of state

A handful of area businesses “across the gamut of sizes and sectors” say they’d consider moving out of New York if the governor’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal materializes, according to the chief of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. [Read more…]

January 2016: Business Scene

NNY Business 5th annual 20 Under 40 Award luncheon

On Dec. 10, NNY Business Magazine and New York Air Brake presented the 5th annual 20 Under 40 luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn, Watertown, to recognize 20 of Northern New York’s emerging leaders under age 40. Photos by Karee Magee, NNY Business.


[Read more…]

January 2016 20 Questions: Joseph M. Butler Jr., City of Watertown

Charting a new course

Joseph M. Butler Jr., talks about his vision for Watertown during an interview in the conference room at his Community Bank office on the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of the City of Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Joseph M. Butler Jr., talks about his vision for Watertown during an interview in the conference room at his Community Bank office on the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of the City of Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. shares his
vision for a city that celebrates its victories

On the eve of his swearing-in as mayor of Watertown, Joseph M. Butler Jr. is decidedly optimistic about the city’s future while talking about its challenges. In short order, he hopes to see a city where people talk more about “our victories over drugs opposed to our defeats.” He also envisions a downtown “that flourishes morning, noon, afternoon and evening.” After serving two terms as a city councilman, the 48-year-old financial advisor took the same oath of office on Jan. 1 that his father, Joseph M. Butler Sr., took in 2000. We sat down with the young mayor hours before he began a new four-year term, taking the reins from the same man the elder Mr. Butler defeated in 1999 to become mayor. [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…]

November 2015: Business Briefcase

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Tax, business law firm opens Watertown office

Attorney and certified public accountant Joseph M. Callahan has opened a tax and business law firm in the former Agricultural Insurance Co. building, 215 Washington St.

The Watertown office, started in September, is the fourth location in upstate New York opened by Mackay, Caswell & Callahan P. C. The firm also has locations in Syracuse, Rochester and Utica. Mr. Callahan said he is the sole owner of the firm; the two former partners listed in the firm’s name have died.

Mr. Callahan, who has practiced law about 30 years, said he saw a need to open an office in Watertown to do business with clients face to face. The firm is staffed by two enrolled agents. “Clients want to deal with people face to face, and that’s why a brick-and-mortar location makes sense,” said the Syracuse native, who has had clients in the Watertown area about 15 years.

Mr. Callahan, who has practiced law in Syracuse since 1988, said he opened his Rochester office last year and the Utica location this summer. Among other things, he said, his firm specializes in helping clients resolve issues with disputed unpaid taxes.

“After the economic downturn in 2008, I started specializing more in tax work and helping people out with back taxes,” he said, adding his experience as an attorney and CPA enables him to handle a variety of complex legal issues. “I can take it from the investigative stage through the completion stage in court.”

Visit the firm’s website, https://mcc4tax.com.

MANUFACTURING

Air Brake still plans $3.6m Watertown expansion

Recent job cuts at New York Air Brake will not affect the company’s planned $3.6 million expansion that will house its engineering test lab, according to the company’s president.

Preliminary construction work began this fall on the expansion project at the Starbuck Avenue company, which calls for a 7,300-square-foot addition to the test lab, President Michael J. Hawthorne said Friday.

The foundation for the two-story addition has been completed, he said, and the project is expected to be done by the end of the year.

The project is expected to create 10 engineering jobs with an annual salary of $67,000. It remains underway after the company recently laid off 20 salaried workers and 15 hourly production workers. Fifteen more hourly workers are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year.

Mr. Hawthorne said cuts were made due to an anticipated decline in demand over the next three years for the company’s brake systems, manufactured for railroad cars and locomotives.

Nevertheless, he said, the company hasn’t discarded its investment plans.

Cuts “were in response to a soft market, and we’re not changing our investment plans moving forward,” he said. “We’re still fully committed to the expansion.”

Air Brake plans to invest $2 million to build the addition, which will connect the 252,250-square-foot main plant with a cold-storage building. The remaining $1.6 million would go toward product testing equipment the company will use to simulate the conditions brake systems on freight trains undergo.

To help fund the project, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement earlier this year that calls for a 50 percent tax abatement over the period, along with a sales-tax exemption on construction materials.

AGRICULTURE

State grants $1.5m to farms for water projects

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded about $1.54 million in combined funding to soil and water conservation districts in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties to support water-quality projects at farms.

The funding was announced last month as part of $11.1 million to support 29 conservation projects across 116 farms statewide. Funds will aid farms with projects that prevent water pollution, reduce erosion and protect waterways from harmful sediments and nutrients.

The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $1,057,925 for the implementation of cover crops to address water-quality concerns at six farms in the Sandy Creek and Stony Creek watersheds. Both watersheds drain into Lake Ontario and are documented as “impaired” on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Priority Waterbody List.

Among other conservation practices, farms will develop riparian buffers on cropland to keep nutrients and other pollutants out of waterways, said Christine M. Watkins, executive director for the district. Buffers are permanent strips of vegetation, situated near waterways, that cannot be used for crops.

“Regulated farms already have a certain setback from waterways, but the installation of vegetative buffers gives us more protection,” she said Wednesday.

Mrs. Watkins, who declined to identify farms, said projects will likely begin in 2016.

The St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $482,555 to help one undisclosed farm in the Raquette River watershed develop practices to address water-quality concerns in the village of Potsdam. The project calls for the construction of a waste storage structure to protect the river from pollutants.

October 2015 20 Questions: On Leadership

On leadership

Lessons and advice from north country leaders

Since NNY Business began publishing monthly in December 2010, we have featured a wide-ranging, in-depth interview with a different north country business or leader 11 times a year, skipping December for our 20 Under 40 emerging leaders issue. Our 54 featured interviews to date have not been limited to the for-profit sector. We’ve sat down with nonprofit and not-for-profit leaders, and educational and health care leaders. The 20 questions that follow are the best of leadership from nearly five years of interviews. [Read more…]

August 2015 Business Scene

Carthage Area Chamber Business After Hours at Little Sisters Inn at Herrings

Little Sisters Inn at Herrings hosted the Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce July Business After Hours on Wednesday, July 22.

GWNC Chamber Business After Hours at AmeriCU Credit Union

AmeriCU Credit Union sponsored and hosted the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce July Business After Hours on Thursday, July 16, at its Arsenal Street location.

New York Air Brake 125th Anniversary Celebration

New York Air Brake hosted a 125th Anniversary Celebration luncheon at its Watertown plant on Tuesday, July 21. 

St. Lawrence Chamber Business Spotlight at Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort

Akwesasne Mowhawk Casino Resort hosted the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce July Business Spotlight on Wednesday, July 22.

Watertown International Airport Business Center dedication

The Watertown International Airport hosted a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony of its new business center in honor of Mary Ellen Cooper Cox on Friday, July 24. 

River Hospital Foundation 13th annual Festive Evening at Bonnie Castle Resort 

Nearly 380 people attended the River Hospital Foundation’s 13th annual Festive Evening at Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina on Sunday, July 26. The hospital kicked off a $5 million capital campaign.

Owner looks at Air Brake’s past, future during 125th anniversary

Heinz Hermann Thiele, owner of New York Air Brake, left, shakes the hand of local artist Garrett L. McCarthy, who created a painting to commemorate 125 years of the company. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Heinz Hermann Thiele, owner of New York Air Brake, left, shakes the hand of local artist Garrett L. McCarthy, who created a painting to commemorate 125 years of the company. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — When his company acquired it 24 years ago, Heinz Hermann Thiele wasn’t exactly sure how New York Air Brake was going to fit into Knorr-Bremse’s plans for the global rail transportation brake manufacturing firm. [Read more…]