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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"ReCharge provides an economic spark"
ALBANY, Sept. 24 -- Here’s the difference a state investment can make to help spark a turnaround in the upstate economy.
Last week I joined other local and state officials at the Anchor Glass Container production facility in Elmira Heights, a century-old glass container manufacturer that turns out approximately three million bottles a day for companies across the nation including The Boston Beer Company, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co., F.X. Matt, Mott’s and others.
As you can imagine, producing millions of glass bottles daily requires quite a current of electricity, and that’s where a New York State investment called ReCharge NY (RNY) makes such a difference in our local economy.
Some of you might be wondering, What exactly is ReCharge NY? Briefly, it’s an economic development power initiative established by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year to provide low-cost electricity to businesses and manufacturers locally and statewide. Previously known as Power for Jobs, the reconstituted program now known as ReCharge NY has long been seen by many upstate legislators as critical to giving current and prospective manufacturers the long-term certainty and stability needed to attract them and the jobs they create to the upstate region.
The difference ReCharge NY makes to businesses, industries and manufacturers locally and statewide was stated this way last week by long-time Anchor Glass General Manager Mike Sopp: “This year, we celebrated our 100th year of operation at this plant and without [ReCharge NY], we may not have been able to reach that milestone. This has given us the ability now to compete in the market" and "we’ve more than reinvested the savings back into the facility.”
And that’s the underlying mission of the RNY program: to encourage job creation and retention, and reinvestment in local economies. The specific reason we gathered at Anchor Glass last week was to announce that the company is receiving 6.6 megawatts in low-cost electricity through the RNY program that will allow it to retain 340 jobs and reinvest $37.2 million in its facility.
In other words, this economic development power program is vital to preserving jobs and promoting economic growth and stability here in the Southern Tier and throughout upstate. Manufacturing plants in particular depend on this lower-cost energy to create and keep jobs, become more cost effective and, especially, stay competitive with manufacturers in surrounding states and globally. With nothing but higher energy costs on the horizon, RNY gives employers the long-term economic stability they need and strengthens the state’s overall business climate.
Through the RNY program, Anchor Glass is able to not only retain its 340 employees, but also reinvest in its Chemung County facility. When the program was created in 2011, it was estimated that the state’s economic development power initiatives had helped sustain upwards of 250,000 in-state jobs at approximately 500 businesses and non-profit organizations in New York. Supporters of Recharge NY believed the new program could help revitalize the manufacturing sector of New York's economy, a sector which has lost 288,000 jobs over the past decade.
Since 2011, the RNY program has allocated lower-cost power to numerous businesses, industries and other enterprises that, in turn, have committed to retaining more than 33,000 jobs across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions alone. In addition to Anchor Glass, other recipients have included Corning Incorporated, Dresser-Rand, Hardinge Inc., Schweizer Aircraft, BinOptics Corporation, World Kitchen, Alstom and many others. You can find a full listing and other ReCharge NY information on my Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov.
Governor Cuomo said last week, "Electricity costs are an important factor that businesses take into account when looking to expand and make new investments. The ReCharge NY program has given businesses and other enterprises across New York long-term certainty of stable electricity rates so they have the confidence they need to retain and create jobs. These new investments at Anchor Glass demonstrate the state's new approach to improve our business climate, create jobs, and grow the economy."
Electric rates for businesses in New York are twice as high as rates in other states. Consequently, the creation of ReCharge NY was supported by numerous groups including the New York Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, Environmental Advocates, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the Business Council of New York State.
Postscript: Speaking of the Business Council, I’ll take this opportunity, on behalf of our entire region, to express our collective congratulations to Kirk P. Gregg, chief administrative officer of Corning Incorporated. At the Business Council’s Annual Meeting last week, Kirk was awarded the 2012 Corning Award for Excellence, the Council’s most prestigious award presented annually to a New Yorker who “has shown outstanding accomplishment and a deep and sustained commitment to the people of New York.” What a great tribute to Kirk, who represents the very best of the Corning Incorporated mission – commitment to community, an unparalleled dedication to excellence and quality, and a fundamental mission to keep our state and our nation at the cutting edge of the 21st century economy. The Business Council couldn’t have chosen a better representative of all that the Corning Award for Excellence is meant to honor.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869