Medical Marijuana: Dispensary official talks treatment

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I LOVE Northern NY – How to get in on ILNY promotions

BROOKE ROUSE

Many recognize the I LOVE NY brand and think of it as New York City. In fact, I LOVE NY is the official destination brand of New York State.  Each county government designates an organization be the ‘local boots on the ground,’ or tourism promotion agent (TPA) for I LOVE NY, or more specifically, Empire State Development’s Tourism Division.  An annual grant is then administered, combining state and County funds to be used specifically for marketing the County as a destination to out-of-county visitors.

                In addition to the grant funds, the TPAs work closely with the I LOVE NY team on a number of marketing initiatives and state wide campaigns. So how do you, as a business or community, get a piece of the pie?

                Your County TPA creates a marketing plan annually and always appreciates participation from tourism partners. Sometimes cooperative marketing opportunities exist, where you can buy in at an affordable rate to get a lot more. This is done through regional branding efforts, where you can be highlighted in print or digital platforms.

                Your TPA is actively seeking exposure for your county…one of the best ways to do that is through earned media (we do the work to earn the recognition, but don’t necessarily pay any money). For example, the TPA will communicate with writers or the state may organize a trip of writers (also known as a FAM or familiarization tour) to visit and write, blog, photograph the area. Typically we need businesses to host for overnights, meals, excursions, or tours. Typically these things need to be offered for free or at a discount. The ‘host,’ as an active participant will then be covered in the content. These stories have tremendous value that our tourism marketing budgets could not afford, so this is a great opportunity for the destination and the business, product, etc.

                Your TPA is actively updating websites, social media, visitor guides and requests for story leads. The most important thing…PHOTOS. A picture tells a thousand words. High quality (high resolution) photos, showing people doing things are the best way to really tell the story. Any time your community or business can share high quality photos (not smartphone photos) of a festival, activity, landmark – you are sure to be included in the next promotion.

                The more we know, the more we can help. I LOVE NY is constantly sending out story leads for major publications like USA Today, NY Times, etc. They want to know what is new, what is unique. If we know what you are up to (and have high quality photos!), we can quickly send the word (and image) along. Sometimes its quirky – a top 20 list of breakfast features, or unique requests like spa getaways where you can sleep under the stars. The more unique offerings you can create, the better. The more we know about it, the more you benefit.

                The state and other state partners have also developed several thematic campaigns.; Haunted History Trail, PRIDE, Underground Railroad,  Path Through History, Taste NY, to name a few. If you can create an event or have an attraction that is a fit, be sure to let your TPA know.

                To get connected with your local TPA, call 1000 Islands International Tourism Council (Jefferson County) 315-482-2520, Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism & Planning 315-349-8322, or St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce 315-386-4000.

Brooke Rouse is executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and a Tourism Promotion Agent. She is a business owner, holds a master’s degree in tourism and is a former SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center advisor. Contact her at brouse@st.lawrencecountychamber.org.

‘Welcome to New York’: New visitors center in the 1000 Islands showcases the best of NNY

PROVIDED BY NEW YORK STATE EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT Renderings of the new North Country Welcome Center at Collins Landing.

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Ritchie unveils agricultural plan for 2016-17 State Senate budget

New York State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, center, and State Senator Patty Ritchie, left, learn about milking from farm owner Michael B. Kiechle, right, while at the Garden of Eden Farm. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

New York State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, center, and State Senator Patty Ritchie, left, learn about milking from farm owner Michael B. Kiechle, right, while at the Garden of Eden Farm. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

ALBANY — State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, highlighted Tuesday a renewed agricultural focus in the 2016-17 Senate budget aimed at continuing financial, research and employment support for New York state’s agriculture industry. [Read more…]

Local experts discuss north country’s economic outlook at Chamber event

The Economic Forecast event featured a panel of five speakers discussing the economic trouble spots and assets in the north country.

The Economic Forecast event featured a panel of five speakers discussing the economic trouble spots and assets in the north country. Photo by Stephen Swofford, Watertown Daily Times.

Trying to get a glimpse of the local economic future is more like staring into an opaque globe than a crystal ball, noted Donald C. Alexander, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development. [Read more…]

January 2016: Small Business Success

It’s Maine-ly business in New England

OConnellWebLast October, I took a 1,500-mile solo road trip through New England to visit a small entrepreneurial venture way up in Down East Maine, and I’ll be sharing his story in my March column.

For now, I want to share a little bit of my adventure through the beautiful state of Maine. What I discovered was, you can take the small business advisor out of the office, but you can’t take the small business perspective out of her. [Read more…]

STEM scholarship offers NNY students opportunity

CANTON – A full scholarship offered by New York state to attend college for science, technology, engineering and math related fields could be an important launch for north country students.

The state offers a full scholarship to the top 10 percent of graduating high school students to attend SUNY schools for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and who pledge to work and live in New York for five years following graduation.

State Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, is encouraging area students to consider the STEM scholarship as a good step into their future.

“The north country is home to many high-tech industries and world-class universities,” Mrs. Russell said in a statement. “This scholarship is an excellent opportunity that I hope driven young people will take advantage of so they can write the next chapter of development in the region.”

Last year, statewide, there were 553 recipients for the scholarship totaling $2.796 million.

For the north country region, including Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties, there were 15 recipients totaling $84,208.

Students looking to receive the scholarship must graduate in the top 10 percent of their class; attend a SUNY, CUNY or statutory college including Cornell and Alfred Universities; and must maintain a 2.5 grade point average or higher each semester.

For a high poverty area like the north country region, going to college could be tough to picture for many students, but schools in the region are beginning to push these STEM fields early in students’ education which could set them up for opportunities like the state’s scholarship.

“Considering the high poverty level in the area this scholarship could be a great opportunity for students who may not have the ability to go to college,” said Lisa J. Blank, the new STEM director for the Watertown City School District. “You are talking saving kids around $30,000 a year.”

Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, agreed that the scholarship makes college more accessible for students.

“By providing a full SUNY tuition, the scholarship would increase the equity for student access to college,” Mr. Burns said.

Mrs. Blank has worked with several area school districts including Sackets Harbor, Lyme, General Brown and Belleville Henderson to set up programs in science, technology, engineering and math and apply for grants from the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Mrs. Blank recently helped Watertown schools secure a $1.25 million grant from DoDEA to set up STEM programming in the district.

The grant money will be used for teacher training in technology, implementation of video lessons on the computer that can be bought or developed by teachers and several technology-based extracurricular activities, including robotics clubs for elementary pupils and engineering clubs for middle and high school students.

The funding can be applied to 14 clubs.

The money also will buy two new laptop carts each for H.T. Wiley Intermediate School, Case Middle School and Watertown High School, as well as a new virtual learning system.

Mrs. Blank also put schools in touch with STEM programs including Project Lead the Way, which provides STEM curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Mrs. Blank also helped Lyme Central School District connect with the Full Option Science System program which provides hands-on learning science curricula for kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Seventy percent of the instruction is hands-on which increases kids’ interest in science,” Mrs. Blank said. “It is important to get kids interested in STEM at elementary school and middle school levels so they are on the right path for knowing what they want to do when they graduate high school.”

Stephen J. Todd, superintendent of the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, said anything that encourages students to go to college to become STEM coordinators would be good for north country schools.

“There is a shortage of teachers in this area particularly in STEM related fields,” Mr. Todd said. “I think this scholarship is a wonderful thing for the state as a whole. It is a good incentive for students to go into STEM instruction which could benefit our schools.”

Mr. Burns said it is important that the scholarship requires commitment from students to stay in the state after graduation.

“Requiring the recipients to sign a service agreement to stay in New York in a STEM-related field not only promotes STEM-related careers but contributes to better economic development growth while helping to limit the out migration of young people to other parts of the state and country,” Mr. Burns said.

Both BOCES facilities offer career and technical classes for students attending member schools.

“We have been working on many career-focused programs at the BOCES, and again there are some possibilities with this scholarship to insure that students are both college and career ready when they leave high school and college,” Mr. Burns said.

Mrs. Blank said the only concern Mrs. Blank said she has heard from students was that there are not enough fields that apply as STEM-related under the scholarship guidelines.

According to the New York State Higher Educational Services Corporation, the agency that provides information on scholarship and financial aid options, some approved programs under the scholarship guidelines include computer science and programming, agricultural engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, solar technology and mathematics and statistics.

“In the long-run, this scholarship will benefit all New Yorkers as we encourage and cultivate tomorrow’s industry leaders and secure a bright economic future,” Mrs. Russell said.

According to the state Department of Labor the median wage for workers in STEM occupations in the north country region is $59,641.

The STEM occupation in the north country with the highest median wage is a physician’s assistant, $103,685, which employed 200 people in 2015.

The next highest median wage for the north country was earned by environmental engineers, $85,216, which employed 80 people in 2015.

The lowest median wage was earned by architectural and civil drafters, $31,250, which employed 80 people in 2015.

Scholarship requirements

Be a legal resident of the state and reside here for 12 months.

Be a high school senior/recent high school graduate who will be enrolled full-time at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University, beginning in the fall term following his or her high school graduation.

Be ranked in the top 10 percent of his/her high school graduating class of a New York state high school.

Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester.

Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in the state for five years in the field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

By Richard Moody, Times Staff Writer

State, Alcoa strike deal to keep 900 jobs, low-cost power

Alcoa employees listen to U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand during a press conference at Alcoa Massena Operations, East Plant. Senator Gillibrand was promoting Made In America Manufacturing Act, legislation to help bolster high-tech manufacturing in the North Country. Photo by Melanie Kimbler-Lago/Watertown Daily Times.

Alcoa has committed to investing $42 million to modernize its Massena aluminum production facilities, preserving 900 jobs for the north country, in a deal with the state that guarantees a long-term supply of low-cost electricity from the New York Power Authority.

The critical development, announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the close of business Friday, was met with enthusiasm and a huge sigh of relief from community leaders who had been anxiously awaiting Alcoa’s decision as a Sunday deadline approached. The official announcement is scheduled for today in Massena. [Read more…]

JCIDA OKs plan to pull out of state pension system by April

If all goes according to plan, the nine employees working for the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency no longer will be enrolled in the state pension system by April 1, the agency’s board of directors decided Thursday. Board members decided to do so after waiting for months to learn whether the agency’s plan developed in 2012 to restructure its subagencies is OK with the state comptroller’s office.

But board members and agency officials say they’re tired of waiting for answers, and all agreed that opting out of the state pension program is the best plan. Under its approved plan, the board established an ad hoc committee to oversee the process of moving to a private pension plan, and decided to hire a law firm to get the work done by April 1. Officials said the private plan will include benefits similar to those that employees have received under the state plan. Once established, that plan would take effect retroactively for the nine employees to provide coverage starting Jan. 1., 2013.

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Industry experts explain how NYS can grow from Greek yogurt

Darrel J. Aubertine, state Agriculture and Markets commissioner; Cathy Gaffney, Wegmans director for specialty cheese, and Dennis Miller, chairman of the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, talk Thursday inside the new Stocking Hall Dairy Plant at Cornell’s Ithaca campus. Photo provided by Cornell University.

It’s delicious and nutritious.

That was the catchphrase used by industry experts to explain why droves of Americans have been drawn to Greek yogurt produced in New York state during a panel discussion Thursday at Cornell University in Ithaca. The talk centered on how dairy farmers, processors, educators and legislators can team up to capitalize on the nation’s strong appetite for the product, which is loaded with protein but has a low carbohydrate count.

Experts say the first step toward that goal will be discovering how to entice dairy farmers to produce more milk by increasing their cattle herds. Dairy farmers will need to produce 15 percent more milk than they do now in the next two years to keep up with surging demand, they forecast, because a network of Greek yogurt plants launched here will need the increased output.

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