Higher Ed: Central to Our Economy’s Future

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Rochester Business Journal.

Kent GardnerGovernor Cuomo set November 14 as the deadline for the state’s ten regions to submit economic development strategies. Led by Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman and University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, many in our community are working furiously to articulate plans, goals and measurable objectives.

While we hope to be one of the winning regions—earning a promised $40 million in state support—the process itself has already been valuable. In my 20 years here, I cannot recall a time when leaders of business and government from the Finger Lakes’ nine counties have gathered to talk about what makes our economy successful and what might make it better. The process would have been even more valuable had it been less of a fire drill—a February deadline would have been better, although still ambitious—but we can be proud of the diligent efforts of the Council members and participants in eleven workgroups. The plans they have developed are a testimony to the vitality of particular economic clusters and the many vital economic institutions in the region.
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Where are all the unemployed people?

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Scott SittigDid you know that the Finger Lakes Region is number one in New York State in sales of milk, fruits and nuts, corn and organic products?  I didn’t until recently.  Many of us know intuitively that agriculture is important to our region’s economy, not to mention our health and well being.  Just ask my wife who regularly braves the large crowds on Saturday at Rochester’s downtown farmers market for our weekly supply of produce.  Our region is rich in productive farmland. Despite a relatively short growing season, we produce one-third of the State’s ag output by value, benefiting people all over the country.
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Sobering demographics, We’re all worse off

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Kent GardnerIn its release of 2010 estimates for Monroe County, the Census Bureau confirmed what we perceive: We’re all worse off.

As year-to-year variation is less reliable, I compare the 2010 American Community Survey estimates to the 2000 Census—the “long form.”

  • Median household income fell about 20% over the decade. Adjusted for inflation, the 2009 figure reported in the 2010 report—about $45,000—is 78% of the nearly $58,000 figure from 1999.
  • Per capita income didn’t decline as much—about 9% to about $27,000 (from an inflation-adjusted $29,000).
  • The increased incidence of poverty is also troubling:
    • Family poverty rate from 8.2% to 11.1%
    • Poverty rate for families with children under 18 rose from 13.1% to 18.6%
    • Similarly, persons in poverty rose from 11.2% to 15.4% but children in poverty rose even more, from 15.5% to 22.2%

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In the future, Rochester NY is a community where “we’re on our own”

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Rochester City Newspaper.

Kent GardnerThe Rochester community confronts problems that will test the mettle of our leaders in coming decades. Our core challenges persist and others will emerge, yet help from external sources will become scarce. We are thrust back on our own devices, thus on the ability of our leaders to forge community solutions to community problems.

The City of Rochester will continue to struggle with its central economic problem: too many school dropouts and too many graduates who are ill-prepared for further schooling or a career. There is no challenge more difficult or more important.

  • Students who leave school without the tools to earn a living for themselves and their families face a lifetime of struggle.
  • The economy trades a contributor for a dependent.
  • The city’s economic vitality will be limited by an ill-trained workforce and a crime rate that is fueled by desperation, resentment, and disillusionment.

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Making Sense of Health Savings Accounts

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Rochester Business Journal.

Originally published in Rochester Business Journal
1/9/2009, 1/16/2009, 1/23/2009

Kent GardnerPart One

Early signals from our health insurer led us to expect another double-digit increase in our insurance premiums—perhaps a 15% hit. Frankly, I thought that we were just being softened up for something lower—If I were led to expect 15%, then a mere 11% bump should make me (relatively) happy. I was stunned when the final price of the most popular of our plans would go up 21% in 2009.

The big increase in price led us to explore cheaper plans, particularly a policy that includes a “Health Savings Account” (HSA). The discussion below refers to the specific plans we were offered by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

CAUTION: The remainder of this column discusses insurance premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maxima and other arcane health insurance jargon. Readers looking for lighter fare might prefer IRS Publication 17 or, perhaps, a William Faulkner novel.

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Inspired employees could pay off

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

Bethany WelchAngela DiNiscoGov. David Paterson wants state government to do more with less.

The rumblings started as early as March when the annual budget was completed. Then, last week, Budget Director Laura Anglin asked agencies to prioritize programs and match them to agency purpose, and allocate staffing accordingly. Presumably, this information will be used by the Budget Division to prepare for the Legislature’s mid-August emergency session.

Paterson’s alarm bell will have a familiar ring in state agencies Not so long ago, then-Budget Director John Cape asked agency heads to provide a one-page list of their top three strategic priorities for the 2005-06 budget. Certainly across-the-board cuts are easier for the Division of the Budget to administer, but taxpayers deserve better. Some state functions are more important than others and the cutbacks should reflect conscious priorities. Some cutbacks save more money than others. As an example, when state expenditures are partially funded by the federal government, cutting state staff can actually cost money if federal reimbursement is affected.

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