Category Archives: News

ESRI User Conference

In this video of the 2019 Esri User Conference, we see how New York’s MTA systems work in practice.  We see how such systems – in conjunction with a geospatial infrastructure – keeps New York City moving.

Open C-PACE

New York’s Energize NY Open C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program is being utilized by 150,000+ firms spanning a wide range of commercial properties.  Already firms in Bedford and Saratoga Springs have been using this program which “provides a low cost, long-term alternative to traditional loans to fund clean energy projects in commercially owned buildings.”

C-PACE offers “100% long-term, fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy upgrades, and sustainability measures such as green roofs to buildings through a voluntary property tax assessment.” Funding comes from private firms, one of which is Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Real Estate.

The Climate Mobilization Act (which was enacted earlier this year) will penalize commercial properties with more than 25,000 square feet which are not able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (and 40% by 2030).

Summer in the City: Time for Tunneling!

New York City summers can be hellish.  But then so can those in other countries that people like to travel to for summer vacations.  To enjoy our summers wherever we are, we need to find a way to have fun that involves hydration and water to cool off.  One perfect way to do this is via a tunnel.

A lot of countries have cool tunnels.  Mozes Victor Konig is familiar with some of them as he likes to take his children out of his Tel Aviv hometown and do something fun that involves exploration and water – the tunnel is the perfect solution. Faced with the seemingly never ending-school holidays, Konig this year took his kids on an air-conditioned bus to Jerusalem where it’s slightly cooler and found indoor activities for them at the cool Western Wall Tunnels

“I wasn’t sure initially as my kids didn’t seem that excited.  But literally within minutes of entering the tunnel they were blown away!  They didn’t ask for the iPad once; it was amazing!  The thing is, when you think about it, what kid doesn’t want to get wet and explore a deep, dark, unpredictable tunnel?  Any kid from 5 can do this tour and it really makes for a fun few hours to explore hidden parts of the Temple Mount.”

Kids – and adults – can check out stone arches, interactive Temple models, water pits (the best!) and even an ancient aqueduct.  While you are in it you will be parallel to nearly 500 meters of the Western Wall, and through that you get to really feel what it must have been like for King Herod when he tried to expand the Temple Mount – not easy! 

When you’re done with that you can move along to Hezekiah’s Tunnel which is very nearby and is a fabulous place to forget the sweltering heat.  This man-made water tunnel is 1,750 feet and offers two different tourist options:  one dry and one knee-high.  Again, accessible for kids age five and up.

But let’s get back to dealing with the New York summers.  One option Konig checked out a few years ago was the McCarren Pool Tunnels.  He describes it as a “pool with a difference” which is definitely one way of looking at it!  Located at Greenpoint, it is a nice pool (it was recently renovated) with a story that Konig investigated before snapping photos.  During the Great Depression, the FDR’s Works Progress Administration commissioned the construction of 11 huge pools around the city. 

So today – as well as enjoying a swim around – you can now check out access tunnels underneath the park.  There you will see amazing drainage pipes and enjoy other adventures.  And the actual pool still has the remains of the some of the original tunnel for those who are skeptical about taking the underground route.

No matter what you do this summer, make it a wet one.  It is not worth going anywhere without proper hydration and keeping cool with water.  So from Jerusalem to New York, keep cool underwater in the summer of 2019!

Business Investments and Success: What’s New

Some companies – especially those in the medical tech industry – are seeing the fruits of their labor right now.  Having developed ideas and worked carefully – for years (sometimes decades) – these companies are now getting investments they have long deserved.  Here we take a brief look at what has been going on in this area in the New York region.

Centene – a firm working as a principal intermediary for both government-sponsored and privately insured health care programs – has been heavily involved in raising funds for Quartet Health.  The latter company was established in 2014 and collaborates with “health plans and systems to facilitate access to personalized care and enable virtual collaboration between providers to ensure the best health outcomes” with a focus on “medical and behavioral health conditions.”  Thanks to the support of Centene, $600m in Series D funding has now been raised.  This brings the total of the funds raised to $153m.

Other Series D funding that has been raised is now in the hands of SecurityScorecard. The information security firm – founded in 2013 – appraises corporate firms’ cybersecurity strength.  It does this via an analytical rating of cyber threat intelligence signals to get a better understanding of IT risk management.  In its Series D funding, $50M has been raised from a variety of investors including: Accomplice, AXA Ventures, Evolution Equity and Intel Capital.  This brings its total reported equity funding to $100M.

But that is just a couple of small items.  The bigger picture is that over the last five years, 7,500 New York-based tech companies have been supported by $38.4 billion of investment alongside a huge network of academic institutions, accelerators and incubators.  As well, a bunch of startups have been purchased in New York.  Examples include: General Assembly (for $413 million) and Plated ($200 million).

Founded in 2011, GA is a leader in education which has “transformed tens of thousands of careers through pioneering, experiential education in today’s most in-demand skills. When you learn web development, data, design, business, and more.”  Today it has a “global, professional community of 40,000-plus full- and part-time alumni.”

Plated was established in 2012 and a year later – due to its participation in Techstars – developed a name for itself.  The US ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service facilitates the meal-making process for people in their own homes. The way it works is simple:  the client signs up, picks their recipes, then receives a box of all the ingredients they need for it and then follows very simple steps to “create impressive dinners worth sharing.”

New York has definitely proven itself in the business-cum-startup-investment world recently.

NYC: New Laws

There have been some new laws passed in New York City for local residents as of late.  The 185 and 186 went into effect on March 18, 2019 to extend rights of mothers who are nursing in the workplace.  What this means in practice is that employers now have an added responsibility toward working mothers:  the provision of a lactation room.  As well, lactation room accommodation policies must be written out.  These two laws are amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law.

Another new law was put in place in an attempt to help support people on the street who are being searched by the police.  These new laws took place last October via the Right to Know Act. What this means is that before performing a search, a police officer must give the individual a business card and only thereafter ask for permission to perform their search.

The Climate Mobilization Act completed 6 climate mitigation laws.  This predominantly transforms New York’s approach to climate change, and is also known as The Green New York Deal.  The fact is, 70 percent of New York’s carbon footprint is brought about by heating and cooling for buildings.  A third of that comes from 50,000 of the city’s huge skyscrapers.  Thus this bill is requesting that owners of buildings will cut emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Michellene Davis: A Woman of Many Firsts

The 19thThurgood Marshall College Fund’s Annual New Jersey Award of Excellence ceremony was held at the end of March in Belleville, NJ.  Winning an award is good for any business for many reasons: it recognizes excellent work; elevates a company’s reputation; bolsters morale at a firm and sparks supplementary customer interest.  But with this particular award, winners such as RWJBarnabas Health’s Michellene Davis can also take pride in the parallel being made with the award’s founder.  As Davis said:

“This award means so much to me, because Justice Marshall embodied that which the premise of my life’s work is premised upon, such as advocacy, education, justice and civil rights. I am honored that my very small contributions were deemed worthy of this amazing award.”

Michellene Davis is a woman of many firsts.  She was Barnabas Health’s first female (and black) individual to become Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs.  In addition, she was the first ever African American to hold the position of Chief Policy Counsel to New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine.  

Role Models for International Women’s Day: Michellene Davis, Christine Stearns and Trish Zita

Just in time for International Women’s Day, three out of the ten people named to the ROI Power List Influencers of 2019 are women! Michellene Davis, Christine Stearns and Trish Zita were recognized for their unique and valuable contributions to the government.

Of these women, Michellene Davis is the only minority woman who was recognized as an Influencer. Michellene Davis is a trailblazer with an impressive list of accomplishments: a noted trial attorney, she created the New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury’s Office of Supplier Diversity and Division of Minority and Women-owned Businesses and was the youngest lottery CEO for the state of New Jersey. Michellene Davis is a public advocate and lobbyist who is also an inspirational speaker.

Christine Stearns is an attorney and healthcare lobbyist who specializes in the healthcare industry. She is an attorney who serves on the board of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and the Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice. In 2005, she co-chaired the Governor of New Jersey’s Health Care and Senior Service Policy Group.

Trish Zita is the co-founder of the Kaufman Zita Group and the firm’s managing business partner. A powerful and effective lobbyist, she also represents companies as well as non-profit organizations. She was selected by Governor Phil Murphy to serve on the Environment and Energy Transition Committee and has received several awards for her work.

These three women set an inspiring example of leadership.

NYC Infrastructure Developments

Infrastructure

Last month it was announced that NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan will receive a capital investment of $52 million. The money will be put toward enhancing infrastructure there.  This includes:  automatic fire sprinkler upgrade; new, safer patient-accessible windows; emergency power system; roof replacement. Cooling towers and the Medium Pressure Steam Condensate System unit will also be replaced.  According to Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“We are proud to have the largest public hospital system in the nation. NYC Heath + Hospitals/Metropolitan has been a mainstay in this community for decades, and this investment will help the hospital get the upgrades needed to continue serving the community.”

It is hoped that all parts of the project will be completed by 2021.

Over in Hudson Square, watch out for more mega infrastructure, this time from Google. The plan is to build a 1.7+ million sq.ft campus there spanning 315 and 345 Hudson Street and 550 Washington Street for a $1 billion price tag.  It will be called Google Hudson Square. CEO and President of Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde said that:

“It’s likely that we’ll not only compete with but surpass Silicon Valley because we literally don’t just have a tech industry, we’ve got technology transforming all our major industries.”

This is especially the case with the addition of Amazon HQ2 in the area.

Minimum Wage Increases

The first city in America that is enforcing minimum wage for app-based drivers (such as Uber, Juno, etc.) is New York City.  At the end of this month, the new pay rules will ensure that all drivers irrespective of which company they work for will be paid $17.22 at least per hour after expenses.

The rule came after a vote in favor of the law was carried by the New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission at the end of last month.

According to Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro this resulted in “desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families.”  In a statement he added that:

“All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America. We are thankful to the Mayor, Commissioner Joshi and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, City Council Member Brad Lander and all of the city officials who listened to and stood up for drivers.”

NYC enacted its minimum wage law in 2016 with the first increase on 31 December of that year to $11.  Only by 2021 is the minimum wage for NYC workers to reach $15.

Minimum Wage in NY

Most New Yorker’s appreciate the increase in minimum wage.

Since 2016, minimum wage has been rising, from $9.70 an hour to a projected increase of $15 an hour by 2021. The rise in minimum wage means that employees can maintain a better standard of living.

“New York proudly set an example for the nation by raising the minimum wage to $15,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “The fight for economic justice for our working families continues, and we won’t stop until every New Yorker is paid the fair wages they deserve.”

However, some New Yorker’s are concerned that the increase in minimum wage means that employees will reduce their hours. Small business owners with limited budgets may find themselves unable to pay their employees.

Most New Yorker’s, however, are greeting the change in minimum wage optimistically.