Biz Buzz: Westchester County Business News, August 5, 2016
Three hospitals rank among country's best; pols speak out against Hudson River anchorage; new name for long-time local bank; the regional economy's high marks; and more recent happenings
At White Plains Hospital, a lounge in its cancer treatment area and the brand-new lobby of the main building both evoke an upscale hotel-like feel.
Three Westchester Hospitals Make U.S. News and World Report List
Three Westchester hospitals were listed on the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking of the best hospitals in the country, which was released earlier this week. The publication’s rankings, which look at how each hospital performs across different specialties, procedures, and conditions, take into consideration data from nearly 5,000 medical centers. In New York, the publication rated nearly 250 hospitals; out of Westchester hospitals, White Plains Hospital ranked the highest at #15 in both the state and metro area. The hospital earned high scores in patient safety and demonstrating commitment to reducing accidents and medical mistakes. Michael Palumbo, M.D., Medical Director and Executive Vice President at White Plains Hospital, commented, “This is a powerful validation of our continuous and very diligent efforts in providing exceptional health care, every day, to the people of our community.” (Interestingly, White Plains Hospital was also recently named one of the most beautiful hospitals in the U.S.—the only New York hospital to receive this distinction—in a poll conducted by Soliant Health.) At #19 on the 2016-2017 U.S. News and World Report list were two local hospitals, Northern Westchester Hospital (which achieved the highest rating possible in four procedures or conditions) and Westchester Medical Center (which ranked nationally in one pediatric specialty, and was high-performing in two adult specialties).
County Executive and Yonkers Mayor Voice Concerns on New Anchorage Locations
On July 20, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano stated his opposition to the establishment of 10 new anchorage locations along the Hudson River, from Yonkers to Kingston—spots where commercial barges would anchor close to the coastline. The largest anchorage would be placed in Yonkers. Originally a proposal by the United States Coast Guard, the Yonkers anchorage would accommodate up to 16 ships, stretching 715 acres from the Glenwood train station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry train station. “We anticipate the proposed anchorages would turn our portion of the Hudson River into a parking lot for potentially volatile substances,” Spano explained, noting that the Yonkers waterfront is one of the city’s greatest municipal assets. “The shores of the Hudson River should be a place where our residents and visitors can gather to live, work and play,” he added. “As such, the City of Yonkers undoubtedly will be opposing this proposal and am asking our federal delegation to act on our behalf in preserving our beautiful waterfront communities.” County Executive Rob Astorino also weighed in against the proposal recently, saying, ““Once again, it appears that the federal government wants to do what it wants, where it wants, when it wants, and that’s just not OK. There needs to be a process to fully vet this proposal in the most transparent manner possible.”
Comptroller Gives High Marks to Mid-Hudson Region’s Economic Growth
According to a special report released recently by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the economy of the Mid-Hudson region—comprised of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Sullivan counties—is poised for strong growth. “The economy of the Mid-Hudson region is strong and is being boosted by the post-recession economic growth in New York City,” DiNapoli said in the report. “Unemployment rates have dropped and local industry is growing, particularly service-based companies. Going forward, the region needs to carefully manage its ongoing need for services and infrastructure improvements given the already high cost of living.” He also noted that the region’s proximity to New York City and quality transportation systems continue to drive economic activity, but the high costs of housing and doing business could impede future growth. The report also notes that wages in the area are higher than any region in the state other than New York City (Mid-Hudson employers pay average annual wages of $56,647) and annual unemployment rates have dropped from 7.6 percent in 2012 to 4.7 percent in 2015. (Preliminary data show that unemployment was down to 3.8 percent, by May 2016.)
Photo courtesy of Orange Bank and Trust
Name Change for Local Bank
Orange County Trust, an independent community bank, decided to change their name to Orange Bank and Trust after 124 years of business. CEO Michael Gilfeather and Board Chairman Louis Heimbach say the name change better reflects the company’s increased services and broader geographic reach. The bank currently has branches in Orange, Rockland, Westchester, and Dutchess Counties, as well as recently becoming affiliates with Goshen-based Hudson Valley Investment Advisors. While continuing to grow and branch out to other geographical areas, Orange Bank and Trust’s primary focus is to provide community-based relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals to produce the best possible banking experience.
MacQuesten Buys Mount Vernon Metro-North Station
On July 14, MacQuesten Development of Pelham bought the Mount Vernon West train station for $3 million in hopes of restoring the station and bringing people to the area. While the platform is owned and maintained by Metro-North, the station building now belongs to Apicella. The station is “horrible looking and not well maintained,” says MacQuesten’s Joe Apicella, “and that’s why we saw the potential.” Although the surrounding neighborhood of the station is run-down, MacQuesten sees a bright future for the station. Only being roughly 30 minutes from Grand Central, with proximity to the Yonkers Raceway, the Bronx River Road corridor, and the center of Mount Vernon, it makes the station a potential hotspot for commuters as well as leisure travelers. “It’s an untapped market for commuters,” Apicella adds. “And we’re going to take that hidden gem and shine it and make it work.” Plans to renovate the station are currently in development, and Apicella says the station will undergo repairs and restorations by Spring 2017.
KeyCorp merges with First Niagara Bank
KeyCorp recently got authorization from the Federal Reserve to complete its union with First Niagara Financial Group. The merger is predicted to be complete sometime this month. KeyCorp, located in Cleveland, will make the move to Buffalo, where First Niagara is headquartered, to form the combined company’s northeast regional headquarters. In 15 states, First Niagara and KeyBank will have more than 1,200 branches and 1,500 ATMs. Both businesses currently manage branches in Westchester and Fairfield counties.
Two Local Universities Received Grants to Help Expand Their Programs
Fordham University’s Ravazzin Center, and The College of New Rochelle were both awarded significant grants recently. The Ravazzin Center was awarded a $500,00 grant by Westchester County, and The College of New Rochelle received a $2.6 million federal grant. The College of New Rochelle will use the federal grant to assist nursing students and further promote higher education. The overall goal is to provide scholarships that will advocate diversity in the healthcare workforce. “No one should be denied an education in their field of choice because of their background,” says Eliot Engel, a U.S. representative for New York’s 16th congressional district, which includes Westchester County and parts of the Bronx. “This funding will ensure that students from low-income homes can pursue careers in healthcare and, in turn, care for the people of our community.” The Ravazzin Center will use its grant to assess a care model that will aim to lower the risk of homelessness in children in foster care. The next three years will be dedicated to implementing a program and evaluating components that will reduce the number of homeless children in Westchester County. The Center has worked diligently for the past two years to identify key factors that put children at risk of homelessness, and hopes to continue the research in the coming years.