Jobs picture improves amid upstate biz wheelings and dealings

May 20, 2011

Jobs: Improving slowly but surely

The Buffalo Niagara region added more than 2,000 jobs in the last 12 months. That may seem hearty, but according to the New York Labor Department, that’s just a 0.4 percent rate of growth.

During April, layoffs in the public sector continued. But those were offset by gains in private business.

According to the Buffalo News:

The April increase was the eighth consecutive month of job growth for the Buffalo Niagara region as it continues its slow recovery from the recession. The private sector, which excludes government agencies, has grown for 13 straight months. But the data also shows that the recovery by the Buffalo Niagara job market is not keeping pace with the rebound nationally, or even statewide. 

Local unemployment now stands at 8.1 percent. But labor officials are quick to point out that number excludes a number of people, including tens of thousands who are working part-time.

Positions at retail outlets and businesses in the hospitality and tourism-related fields accounted for much of the uptick in April.

Yet jobs continued to trickle out of local manufacturers.

The loss of 600 factory jobs over the last year was a sign of some stabilization within a regional manufacturing base that has seen almost two of every five manufacturing jobs vanish over the last decade.

These reductions are due to layoffs at schools and state government, which now 1.2 percent fewer employees than this time last year.

Among New York’s 13 centers of population, Buffalo Niagara is average in terms of employment. But Ithaca, Binghamton, New York City, Syracuse and Rochester are doing better, numbers-wise.

Incubating takes space for incubation

Remember NXTArrow?

That’s the new business incubator in Buffalo that offers its own unique blend of perks to companies that re-locate to the Queen City. Among the sweeteners: free rent for a year.

To find the real estate for that, the incubator’s management is adopting an outgoing personality. According to the Buffalo News:

Speaking to the Buffalo Place board Wednesday, NXTArrow President John W. Howell pleaded with landlords to support his group’s efforts by removing another hurdle — rental rates — that might stand in the way.

NXTArrow also offers legal, creative and human resources services for businesses that decide to call Buffalo home. Yet the deal comes with a five-year obligation after the first 365 days is through. Incubator management says that commitment is necessary for upstart businesses to allow potential to blossom or affirmatively wither.

So far, agreements with six re-locating ventures have been reached since the incubator’s launch a few months ago.

A rose by any other name…

If you liked the company WindTamer for its name, then your reasoning might be thrown into a jumble soon.

A decision by the shareholders at WindTamer has resulted in a new name for the company: Arista Power, Inc. This goes into effect nearly immediately.

Why?

Well, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

The change "reflects the fact that we have successfully and significantly broadened our product line beyond wind turbines to encompass a variety of renewable energy storage and management systems and products," CEO William A. Schmitz said in a statement. 

The Innovation Trail’s Zack Seward has reported on this company quite a bit. Check it out. Might as well.

 

Last but not least: Syracuse brightens with partnership between two fledgling lighting startups.

A partnership of two small engineering companies and a Canadian light business announced a collaboration to design, manufacture and sell brighter, more energy-efficient LED lamps.

Executives with Ephesus Technologies LLC, Group4 Labs Inc. and ProTerra LED say the venture will bring dozens of jobs and millions of dollars of investment to Central New York. In the past year, each company, less than 10 years old, independently established a Syracuse presence. Later, they found they could each contribute something to this lighting venture.

Santa Claus might not know about these guys because their kind of low-output LED lights do not show up in lighting displays associated commonly with Christmas and other holidays celebrated in late December.

The partnership’s lights will be much different, said John Johnston, the CEO of ProTerra, which is based in Toronto. They are high output – the equivalent of 1,000-watt incandescent bulbs in brightness — and use very little energy.

That’s it for today’s Morning News Roundup. Enjoy your Friday (TGIF). And while you’re at it, the weekend, too.