Scene and Seen: Unemployment Rates Are Down in Westchester, and Chinese Solar Company Linuo to Bring 1,000 New Jobs to the Region
As the 2012 election season (already) kicks into gear, the economy and jobs are on the minds of most Americans. Despite a bleak economic outlook on a national level, the jobs situation in the county has been improving.
Unemployment continued to decline in Westchester County, dropping to 6.5 percent in August, from 6.7 percent in July and 7.1 percent a year ago. In New York state, the unemployment rate dropped from 8 percent in July to 7.7 percent in August, down from 8.3 percent in Aug. 2010. Westchester's jobs outlook was further buoyed by OrthoNet Holdings, Inc.’s September 15 announcment that it is keeping its headquarters in White Plains and plans to add 155 workers. The announcement, including plans by the orthopedic services company to invest $4.5 million in the expansion of its headquarters, was hailed by numerous political figures.
Speaking of jobs, many more will soon be coming to the region since Chinese solar company Linuo announced its plan to set up manufacturing at the former IBM facility known as West Campus (just north in East Fishkill) invest close to $100 million in the new location, and over time create as many as 1,000 positions there. According to published reports, Linuo Group, based in Shandong, People's Republic of China, has set up an American subsidiary and will locate both its U.S. headquarters and the manufacturing plant at the long-vacant former IBM site. The company says it will start with warehousing and solar panel assembly and intends to later move through other phases of growth, including filling the great majority of nearly 1,000 new jobs through local hiring. Further, Choice Hotels International said it expects to open a Cambria Suites hotel in September 2013 at Metropolitan Plaza, a $47 million mixed-use development in downtown White Plains. According to the Journal News, work is already under way at 250-70 Main Street, where the 130-room hotel will open. The complex includes 30,000 square feet of new retail space, plus 17,000 square feet of retail and office space in an adjoining building.
The Cambria Suites will be the Silver Spring, Maryland-based hotel group's third New York hotel deal. The company expects to break ground on two properties in Manhattan later this year.
Meanwhile, The Club at Briarcliff Manor, a senior living community under development in Briarcliff Manor, recently held a guided tasting tour of wines from the world’s celebrated wine-producing regions. The program, which was held at The Club’s Information and Design Center, was led by Billy Rattner, wine director and sommelier at Xaviars Restaurant Group. Among those attending the September 7 event were Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Weinberger of Ardsley, who were greeted by Joan Manley, senior living counselor at The Club. The Club at Briarcliff Manor is a continuing care retirement community that provides a wide range of educational programming for seniors, including complimentary lectures.
Also, on September 13, Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation was recognized for its donation to Friends of Westchester County Parks. The donation enabled the Westchester County Parks Department to place 12 electric carts throughout various county parks, including Fujifilm’s “adopted” park, Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. The event featured the official commissioning of the Fujifilm fleet, after which more than two dozen Fujifilm employees took part in the county’s Adopt-a-Park program by cleaning, weeding, planting, and performing other basic maintenance on the grounds of the Kensico Dam Plaza as part of the company’s 10th Annual Employee Volunteer Day activities. The Fujifilm fleet of golf carts will serve the County Parks Department by efficiently moving staff, supplies, and small equipment from place to place within the parks, and reducing both gasoline consumption and noise pollution requiring the use of trucks and other large vehicles only when necessary, such as moving heavy equipment or taking trips outside the parks.