Summertime Changes in New York

When the weather starts heating up and the summer months arrive, how does this impact small business owners?  What kind of changes – if any – do businesses implement in the New York area come June?

The feeling is most notably there at Gregorys Coffee.  Owner of the New York coffee place Gregory Zamfotis speaks about the difference in purchase choices between the seasons.  He explained that in the beginning of May he starts to follow the weather forecast and thereafter email his store leaders. Why?  Because according to Zamfotis’ estimation, most of the year, the coffee sold is split 75 percent (hot) and 25 percent (iced).  Come iced-coffee season, the numbers almost completely do a 180 with 65 percent (iced) and 35 percent (hot); changed which can occur literally overnight.  As he explains: “You don’t want to get caught and run out by 9 a.m.,” which is a real possibility since they only use cold-brewed coffee to make their iced coffee – a process which takes 12 hours.  With this “smooth, round and lush” drink that is the result of this long-process, at the peak of the season, Zamfotis believes he sells around 10,000 servings daily!  And there is no way to rush the cold brew process so anticipation of weather changes is crucial.

Penn Station commuters might not be thrilled about the upcoming summer months due to the recent announcement by Amtrak of its summertime service changes (read: reductions) for extensive repairs following the report of derailments and other delays.  It is anticipated that three out of the station’s 21 tracks will be closed (alternately) for around seven weeks come  July. The work was ordered after two recent derailments and numerous other delays. It’ll be the New York commuters most impacted due to the reduction in service between NY/Washington, D.C., (Northeast Regional line) and commuters using the New York/Harrisburg, PA (Keystone service). These will impact commuters from July 10 to September 1, 2017.

In conjunction with IMPACT Melanoma and Bright Guard, NYC Parks is installing 100 sunscreen dispensers in the parks.  As a protective measure, this pilot program will enable sun lovers to protect themselves from the sun’s rays with each dispenser holding 1,000 liters of SPF 30 sunscreen.  Beaches in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island have already received such dispensers.  As IMPACT Melanoma Executive Director Deb Girard said:  “We are thrilled to expand on our highly successful program across the country and continue to offer sunscreen units for public and private distribution throughout the country, NYC is an exciting place for us to bring sunscreen.  We hope sunscreen dispensers will become as commonplace as hand sanitizers over the next few years.”

Recent New York Business Acquisitions

There have been a few interesting business acquisitions (both large corporations and SMEs) in the New York area recently.  Here are three recent examples: Castle Harlan Inc., Verizon Communications and Ascott Residence Trust.

First, in the hedge fund industry, Gold Star Foods (a portfolio company of the NY private equity firm Castle Harlan, Inc.), just acquired A&R Wholesale Distributors. Since its been with Castle Harlan, Gold Star has made two other acquisitions.  The company facilitates how states and local school districts nationwide can comply with complex state and federal regulations covering government funding and nutritional content requirements for school meal programs.

Second, two days ago, in the telecommunications industry, Verizon Communications officially acquired Yahoo! for a $4.5 billion price tag.  This will impact the entire nature of the firm which will be rebranded into Oath – a new subsidiary led by Tim Armstrong, current CEO of AOL.  Armstrong’s public statement included the following:

“We’re building the future of brands using powerful technology, trusted content and differentiated data. Now that the deal is closed, we are excited to set our focus on being the best company for consumer media, and the best partner to our advertising, content and publisher partners.”

Third, in the hospitality industry, Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit) is in the process of purchasing DoubleTree – a luxurious Manhattan hotel near Times Square for $106 million.  If this goes through, this will give Ascott Residence Trust 1,004 hotel rooms spanning three properties (having made two other hotel purchases in the last two years – Sheraton Tribeca New York and the Element New York Times Square West). Other interesting numbers on this are that once completed, 12.3 percent of Ascott Reit’s total asset will be US based, its fourth largest (Singapore, Japan and China taking the first three spots).

The next steps forward for Gold Star Foods, Verizon Communications and Ascott Residence Trust will be interesting to see.

Day for Students

Two days ago New York college students were given the opportunity to apply for the state’s free tuition plan.  With the Excelsior Scholarship (approved by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Board of Trustees), this initiative was developed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

So who is eligible?  Full-time (in state) students whose family-earnings are $125,000 or less.  They will have their tuition completely covered at state universities.  This will mean that they will just be left paying for room, board and other expenses. Another condition of the scholarship is for students to live in New York for as many years as they received the benefit thereafter.

Should they renege on that, they would have to repay the scholarship from the city in which they are working. The only recipients who would not be expected to do so would be those in “cases of extreme hardship” or military service members and students with a disability.

Recipients also must remain in New York for as many years as they received the benefit and repay the money as a loan if they take a job elsewhere.

NYC: Ethics and Employment

In a move to benefit the interviewee, Mayor de Blasio is legalizing some changes in questions potential employers are permitted to ask. One of these is salary history.  The Mayor just signed a Bill which, when passed in October will make it “unlawful” to request details of a job applicant’s current salary.

De Blasio is very focused on promoting anti-discriminatory practice in the work place. Just recently NYC’s Ethics Panel fired three city workers for inappropriate use of their jobs for personal gains.  The perpetrators were fined for basing hiring and promotions on familial choice.  One of these workers was an Administration for Children’s Services for use of her job title for the benefit of “an associated family member’s family court case.”

In addition, the head of NYC’s jail system, Joseph Ponte just resigned his position, following criticism for use of his city-owned SUV to repeatedly drive to vacations in Maine.

New York Office Renovations

Additional reporters are being hired in Fox News’s New York office, as a response to the increase in need in the digital journalism field. 1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan will undergo some reconstruction to accommodate this.  one floor at the Newsroom’s headquarters will become open-space for journalists, bringing them up from the basement.  This will result in editors and reporters being “brought out into the open” as it were.

According to Rupert Murdoch the initiative represents a “major investment in the future of FOX News,” adding that it indicates his personal “unwavering confidence” in the company.  Any kind of current internal politics that is being discussed (such as the ousting of FOX News’ co-founder and chairman Roger Ailes) is therefore not an issue, with this action.

Meanwhile, at the Yonkers Public Library renovations are set to begin.  A while ago it was realized that the project had to be undertaken, given the fact that concrete panels were really falling apart – something that had two-to-three decades in the making – and were now posing a safety threat! Work is now slated to begin on this by the summer; the focal part being the front of the building and part of the southern side – in the children’s library.  Phase two will require a borrowing from the city of $2.4 million, required for the building’s north and back sections.

New York: Then and Now

Beginning in the early 20th century this footage from Business Insider gives a visual insight into the changes encountered in NYC from then, until now. In this video we see when the Big Apple first became lively and how the city has evolved and how it has remained the same.

Publicizing New Yorkers’ State Tax Returns

Should a proposed legislation go ahead in New York, the country’s bigwigs could soon be forced to publicize their state tax returns.

The Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act (aka appropriately nicknamed the TRUMP Act) — would require the state to publicly post state tax returns of anyone elected in a statewide election to federal or state office.  The data would then be available to everyone online.

Senator Brad Hoylman (who sponsored the bill) also introduced another bill which would mean New Yorkers on a statewide ballot would have to release their federal tax returns as well.  Hoylman believes that “New York has the responsibility to ensure that voters know if presidential candidates have potential conflicts of interest before they cast their ballot.”

Please May I Be Excused?

Absolutely if you’re privy to the newly-renovated Manhattan public bathrooms.  Free of charge, there are three stalls for women and two for men (with three urinals as well) and have a 310 square feet division.  Located behind the New York Public Library, they feature artwork, classical music, fresh flowers and imported tiles.

The renovation – privately funded by the not-for-profit Bryant Park Corporation – has been (not surprisingly) extremely well-received by tourists and residents alike who are thrilled with the renovated facilities.  In addition to Bryant, Toto (Japan’s Number 1 sanitary ceramics manufacturer) and Brill Hygienic Products Inc. (America’s sanitary toilets and clean toilet seats manufacturing and distributing company) donated to the cause.

Bryant Park executive director Dan Biederman was likely to have been pleased with the final product, as he said: “ we strive for perfection and only settle for excellence.”  Clearly they’ve achieved their goals!

A few years ago, Bryant Park itself underwent an overhaul, given its propensity to urban decay and crime.

New York Business News

Some businesses are expanding into New York.  Two of note are Toronto-investment bank Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. and skincare company Glossier.

With its upcoming expansion and move Canaccord will be able to offer its Latin American institutional clients access to global markets, providing equity and fixed-income sales and trading.  According to new MD of the firm, Alejandro Rebelo, the reasoning behind this move is clear: “Latin America fund managers are treated like kings in their own nations, but aren’t big enough to get all the attention needed from large international banks.”

Further, this will provide Canaccord with more revenue within the firm’s US securities umbrella.  And as Global Head of Sales and Trading Mark Whaling said, staff there will comprise “largely U.S. equities focused, but also will do business in options and fixed income, which represent about 20 percent of their revenue base.”

NYC will also now be home to Glossier, with the added benefit of 200 more jobs at the company’s new headquarters.  Located at One SoHo Square, 161 6th Avenue, Glossier in 2017 was named one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2017 by Fast Company Magazine.

Agreement Reached!

Following on from last week’s post when we discussed the hope of a budgetary agreement enabling students under a certain household income to receive free tuition for CUNY and SUNY, this happened.  New York State’s budget increased by 2% to $98 billion, encompassing a 4% increase for education

Here, News World TV gives the latest.