Familiarize yourself with Scaffold Law obligations

Buffalo’s renaissance is driving an ongoing face-lift all over the city. With the tremendous amount of construction and development occurring, site owners and contractors should be familiar with the statutory liabilities imposed on them by New York’s Scaffold Law.

Whether structuring a deal, performing the work, or determining your insurance needs, understanding the special duties and obligations the Scaffold Law places on site owners and contractors is important.

Labor Law §§ 240 (the Scaffold Law statute), and its counterpart Labor Law §§ 241(6), apply to “[a]ll contractors and owners and their agents,” except owners of one and two-family homes who do not exercise control over a project.

In recent years, the Court of Appeals has been actively involved in shaping the scope of these laws by examining who is subject to their special obligations and what types of activities and accidents are subject to their special protections.

crane for scaffold law postNotably, the “ownership” that triggers the protection of these laws is not necessarily determined by the name on a deed.

Given that real estate development or renovation often involves complicated relationships, determining who qualifies as an “owner” for the purposes of the Scaffold Law statutes can sometimes be a complex and nuanced analysis.

For example, in Scaparo v. Village of Ilion, the plaintiff was injured while employed by the Village of Frankfort to install a sewer for a church’s new chapel. The sewer was being installed on property next to the church which was owned by a local industrial development agency.

The Court of Appeals held that even as a record owner, the IDA was not an “owner” under the statute. Similarly, the church was not an “owner” because it had no property interest in the location where the accident occurred.

More recently, in Guryev v. Tomchinsky, the Court of Appeals split on whether a condominium board is an “owner” under the statute. In that case, the plaintiff was injured while renovating an individual condominium unit.

A majority of the court held that the statute did not apply to the board, because unlike a co-op (which typically owns an entire building and each unit within it,) the board did not own the unit being renovated by the plaintiff.

The court also ruled that an agreement between the board and the unit owner was not sufficient to impose the Labor Law’s special obligations on the board.

Patrick Hines headshot

Patrick Hines, Associate at Hodgson Russ

The court’s analysis of interests and relationships in cases like Scaparo and Guryev illustrates the importance of keeping in mind the potential applicability of Scaffold Law protections when structuring any development or renovation deal.

Understanding the rights and responsibilities of various parties in advance can prevent unnecessary litigation and inadvertent exposure to costly liability.

About the author: Patrick Hines, a three-year Partnership member, is an Associate with Hodgson Russ LLP. Hines focuses his practice on personal injury insurance defense and business litigation matters, including labor law, negligence and toxic torts.

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Cuomo needs to extend Brownfield Cleanup Program

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will soon be presented with a bill to temporarily extend New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program and it is urgent that he approve the legislation.

The Buffalo News published an opinion piece yesterday voicing support of our advocacy on behalf of the bill which has leveraged more development in Erie County – 28 projects – than any other in New York since 2008.

BCP infographicThe Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) has played a role in the creation of more than 4,200 jobs and millions of dollars in development in Western New York alone.

BCP provides valuable tax credits to developers who reuse old industrial sites that would otherwise remain eyesores.

“The Brownfield Cleanup Program creates jobs, cleans up our region from dangerous toxins, and puts unusable land back on the tax rolls. Without re-authorization, positive, important projects like Riverbend, Welded Tube, Alita and the Union Ship Canal would not be here today,” says our President & CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen.

The program has been critical in allowing the governor to achieve his goal of restarting the Buffalo economy, as RiverBend (the signature project in that effort,) is being constructed on a remediated brownfield site.

Unless Cuomo signs the bill, extending the program through March 31, 2017, the tax credits will end, putting a stop to some current regional development projects.

As stated in the article,”Among those developments is “Project Hello,” a planned $102 million development expected to create more than 170 local jobs with average earnings of $72,500.”

One Canalside

One Canalside

Similarly, the BCP is to thank for the completion of the following projects:

  • Conventus, a center for collaborative medicine under construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
  • HealthNow headquarters on West Genesee Street in Buffalo
  • One Canalside, the project that transformed a dreary state office building into a new hotel and law office across Scott Street from the HarborCenter development

“Cuomo has poured his heart into restarting the Buffalo economy and evidence of those efforts is all around. Failure to extend this program threatens to interrupt the progress that is under way. Ongoing developments may not suffer, but long-term success depends to a great extent upon capitalizing on the momentum that Cuomo has set in motion,” states the article.

For Buffalo, a city where the presence of brownfields are ubiquitous, extending the Brownfield Cleanup Program is essential in order to continue the growth and development we have experienced in recent years.

Join us in calling for Governor Cuomo to sign the extension by filling out the form below!

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Riverbend Project: stakeholders come together

Our Riverbend project has entered the final phase as we, in conjunction with UB Regional Institute and National Grid, look to finalize the data collected and complete a final report.

We have continued our outreach on the Riverbend Area: Infrastructure Needs Assessment over the past several months, updates can be seen here.

Last month, we hosted our first Stakeholder Forum.

All parties involved in the outreach process were invited to the Partnership to view the initial data findings from our surveys regarding developments in the project area.

solar city rendering

Solar City rendering

The goal of the forum was to present findings on the capacities of the existing infrastructure systems (electric, road, rail, gas, water/sewer, etc.) and to aggregate growth potential based on development plans.

Here are some of the informational takeaways from UBRI’s presentation:

  • Square footage: there is currently 3,087,607 square feet of building space in the project area. Planned developments for the area will add an additional 2,443,956 square feet of space, a 79 percent increase, to be used mostly for manufacturing. Additionally, the space will be used for offices, warehousing and residential units.
  • Development areas: the Solar City factory dominates the new square footage with its roughly one million square foot solar panel manufacturing site. Significant developments will also be occurring in the former Bethlehem Steel site along Route 5, with just over 400,000 square feet of new construction.
  • Time frame: the bulk of the new development will occur in approximately one to two years from now.

There are enormous development plans in the works for this project area, all expected to occur within the next five years, that will be tremendously beneficial for the region.

In conjunction with our project partners (UBRI and National Grid,) we are working with stakeholders to determine the most effective way to proceed with these plans in order to ensure a long-term, first-class infrastructure and utilities system is in place.

Stay tuned for a blog post in late January which will detail the final data compiled.

If you have any questions about the RAINA project, please contact me.

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BN360 Spotlight Series: getting a fiery start to a new job

Of the many tips that have helped me grow in my career, there are three that stand out:

  1. Have an ethic of service to others.
  2. Pursue your passions.
  3. Persevere through tough times.

After graduating from the University at Buffalo, I served as a Buffalo AmeriCorps member through the Corporation for National and Community Service at The Belle Center. Service to others is a passion of mine and through serving the community, I worked my way up from a volunteer to a senior level position doing marketing and operations.

My past and present professional experiences, in what are still the inchoate stages of my career, have propelled me to new levels of success.

callie johnson

Callie Johnson

This past summer, I was presented with an opportunity at the preeminent leadership organization for girls, the Girl Scouts of Western New York.

As the Vice President of Marketing, I get to utilize my skills in our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

In early August, after a month into my new role at GSWNY, I found out the true meaning of “Getting a fiery start to a new job.”

I found myself in an unimaginable situation when I awoke on the morning of August 5, 2014 by a loud, explosive noise. What I thought at first was a train turned out to be a house fire; my address was one in a series of fires set that morning by an arsonist in the Tonawandas.

Instantly, the fire changed my life forever. By God’s grace, I made it out alive and unscathed on the surface. However, my first apartment (208 Goundry St. in North Tonawanda,) a place that I called home for more than five years, was gone and with it went all of my possessions.

The same day of the fire, I placed recovery at the top of my agenda and it happened swiftly. The fast resurgence that I experienced happened because of my faith, and the love and support of all those around me.

So, if you’re starting a new job and/or embarking upon a new endeavor, remember my three tips.

Life is unpredictable; it’s important to value and live life to the fullest by using every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow into a better person.

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The good, the bad and the border

The Buffalo News recently wrote an articleBorder traffic is double-edged’ that touched on many of the delay issues at our region’s busiest border crossing.

Like so many in our region, we understand that we will never have a border crossing like we did on September 10, 2001.

However, that has not stopped the Partnership from working with many private sector businesses, political leaders and government agencies to improve the border crossing that we do have today.

peace bridge flickr dougtone

Credit: Flickr/Dougtone

Our September 8 letter on behalf of the business community addressed our concerns over delays and wait times at our international border during the summer months.

We have been encouraged by the efforts of the U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agency, as conveyed in the Buffalo News article, to address delays and create a more welcoming experience for Canadian visitors and our returning citizens.

U.S. CBP has met with the Partnership staff and our CanAm Council members regularly and taken note of our many concerns.

While it is understandable to assume that our U.S.-Canada border will never be what it once was, it is still critically important to the economic development of Buffalo Niagara to make it the best it can be.

The Beyond the Border Initiative was a very important agreement between the Canadian and U.S. Governments.

We will continue our efforts at the Partnership to work with the border agencies of both countries to implement this initiative and improve the border crossing experience for all travelers.

peace bridge flickr dougtone 2

Credit: Flickr/Dougtone

Canada and the United States exchange approximately $1.4 million in goods and services every minute.

There are 35 U.S. states that call Canada their top export destination.  If our two countries hope to maintain or even grow these numbers, then the Canadian government must consider investing more resources into its border operations.

Our bi-national region must continue to work together and come up with innovative solutions to ease the crossing of the border for both Americans and Canadians.

In the meantime, to expedite your travel, I recommend getting a NEXUS card.

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New report recognizes opportunity to improve Buffalo schools

StudentsFirstNY, a statewide education advocacy organization, and TNTP, a national nonprofit committed to ending the injustice of educational inequality, joined us yesterday to announce the release of a new report that we are proud to endorse.

TNTP Press Conf 007

Jenny Sedlis (Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY)

The report, titled The Next Buffalo Teachers Contract: An Opportunity to Support Great Teaching & Student Learning, outlines a series of recommendations to improve upon teaching and learning through the Buffalo School District’s teacher contract negotiations.

After 15 years without a new teacher’s contract, the report says that Buffalo schools have an opportunity to revisit the agreement and make common sense changes that would result in lasting improvement to teaching and learning.

“A strong teachers’ contract is essential for turning around our failing schools and ensuring excellence in the classroom,” said our President & CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen. “The governance, leadership and direction of the Buffalo Public Schools is of vital importance to the business community due to its impact on the Buffalo Niagara economy, workforce preparedness and climate for recruitment.”

TNTP Press Conf 014

Left to right: Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Bryon McIntyre (Buffalo District-Parent Coordinating Council First Vice President,) Dan Weisberg (Executive Vice President & General Counsel of TNTP,) Jenny Sedlis (Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY)

TNTP carefully analyzed the current agreement between the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Teachers Federation for opportunities for improvement and came up with a series of recommendations based on five key areas that have been identified as driving progress in school systems across the country:

  1. Give principals and teachers flexibility during the hiring process
  2. Increase starting salaries and reward great work in the classroom with higher pay
  3. Offer teachers meaningful feedback on performance in the classroom
  4. Create a supportive environment for teaching and learning
  5. Reduce unnecessary processes and costs

Other area business leaders, and Partnership members, expressed their agreement on the importance of a highly functioning school system for our future economic development:

“Workforce Development needs to begin earlier in the education cycle if we are to generate a sustainable pipeline that will feed an evolving and growing economic base; it is critical that we have a highly effective school system that not only builds the necessary skills sets for our youth, it also presents these options for the future of our region giving them hope and direction for success.  Demonstrating to a global economy that Western NY understands how to build a long run view that ensures a diverse employee base for existing and new companies enhances local investment potential and this strategic view must be embraced by a progressive school structure.” – Dennis Elsenbeck, Regional Executive, National Grid

TNTP Press Conf 010

Bryon McIntyre (Buffalo District-Parent Coordinating Council First Vice President)

“We need to fix our Buffalo Public School system so that our children will have opportunities to have fulfilling and successful lives. Our businesses will certainly grow here in Western New York if we can offer skilled and educated people. However, without a successful school system, the Buffalo renaissance will be unachievable.” – Thomas R. Emmerling, CPA, Managing Partner, Dopkins & Company, LLP

“The teacher’s contract is central to the success of the district and the 32,000 students it serves. We urge labor and management to immediately focus on this issue and quickly negotiate a best practices type of contract for the benefit of our teachers and students.” – Robert D. Gioia, President, The John R. Oishei Foundation

“The quality of Buffalo’s educational system directly impacts the productivity of our future workforces, which are—in turn—tied to the ongoing prosperity of our region.  Updating the collective bargaining agreement to promote excellence in teaching is vital for us all.” – Lynne Marie Finn, President/CEO of Superior Workforce Solutions, a Superior Group company

buffalo schools blog twc vid

Click to view Time Warner Cable’s event recap

“The positive spiral that is now the Renaissance of Buffalo Niagara must include a higher level of performance from our school systems to improve our young people’s abilities to be a part of this growth and not be ‘left behind’.” – Rocco Surace, Partner, The Bonadio Group

“The future growth and prosperity of our region into a next generation is reliant upon a strong and highly performing public school system. We need today’s leaders to negotiate a fair, balanced, fiscally responsible and current labor agreement that focuses on providing excellence in the class room. Our company’s growth in this community is dependent upon the successful conclusion of a new contract.” – Edward Walsh, President and Chief Operating Officer, Walsh Duffield Companies, Inc

We encourage you to read the entire report and its recommendations.

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BN360 Gives Back: finding your perfect volunteer match

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the community while building your skills and network.

Through our blog, our BN360 Spotlight Professionals have recently made the case for getting involved through volunteering and giving back to the community.

BN360 spotlights

BN360 Spotlight Professionals

The first, and often hardest, step is finding the organization that is right for you.

Finding a cause that you are really passionate about is the best way to feel like you’re making an impact.

From education to arts to community building, Western New York has a variety of non-profits that need your skills and support.

With this in mind, we have created BN360 Gives Back. Created with the goal of highlighting local nonprofits, this event series helps connect individuals with nonprofit organizations that need volunteers, board members and/or sponsorship.

As the holidays approach, we are often asked how and where individuals can volunteer their time or make donations.

bn360 logoBN360 Gives Back, a casual networking event, allows young professionals to learn more about the great work being done in the region and how they can contribute.

Before attending, I recommend taking some time to think about what really matters to you, what sort of time commitment you are able to make and what skills you can bring to an organization. Knowing this will enable you to ask better questions, leading to a better match!

Register today to join us at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 11 at the Market Arcade to find out what our local nonprofit organizations are doing and how you can get involved as a volunteer and/or board member!

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Manufacturing matters

In October, we highlighted manufacturing’s impact on our regional economy. Now, we’re taking a look at the industry’s contribution to the national economy.

Despite the many barriers to competitiveness (high structural costs, critical skills shortages and more), manufacturing prevails as a powerful and positive force in the domestic economy.

manufacturing graph1A few years ago, I read a research paper by The Brookings Institution that reaffirmed the importance of the Partnership’s advocacy and economic development-related efforts on behalf of the regional manufacturing sector.

The authors presented detailed evidence supporting the statement that “American manufacturing matters because it makes crucial contributions to four important national goals including access to high-wage jobs, commercial innovation (the nation’s largest source), a key to trade deficit reduction, and a disproportionately large contribution to environmental sustainability.”

A quick look at updated data gathered by The Manufacturing Institute, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, and the National Association of Manufacturers in their “Facts about Manufacturing” publication, underscores the sector’s continued dominance and importance:

  • U.S. manufacturing is the eighth-largest economy in the world
  • Manufacturing’s multiplier effect is stronger than any other sectormanufacturing graph 2 multiplier effect
  • Manufacturing dominates domestic private sector R&D investment
  • Manufacturing pays higher average compensation than non-manufacturing
  • For every $1 of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.33 for the economy
  • Over 70 percent of Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong economy and national defense

Here in Buffalo Niagara, as manufacturing remains an economic bulwark, it’s been a year of exciting announcements for the sector:

As we look to 2015, the Partnership looks forward to continuing to support this indispensable industry.

manufacturing graph 3 compensationInterested in learning more?

I encourage you to read the 2014/15 advanced manufacturing industry action agenda, which was built from Partnership members’ feedback (through our Employer Outreach Program) and set the priority items we plan to undertake in the upcoming year on behalf of Buffalo Niagara’s advanced manufacturing employers.

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Escape to the beach via Vacation Express

There’s nothing like a historic winter storm to inspire one’s desire to escape to a beach – especially when the storm hits as early as November.

Thanks to new services from Sunwing Airlines and Partnership member Vacation Express, travelers from Buffalo Niagara International Airport will have access to non-stop flights to Cancun and Punta Cana.

Canadian owned Sunwing Airlines has exclusively partnered in the U.S. with one of our newest members, VacationExpress.com (a member of Sunwing Travel Group,) to offer both flight-only and air/land vacations on these new non-stop flights.

Punta cana

The Melia Caribe Tropical resort in Punta Cana

These “low cost, high frills” flights enable travelers to fly in style by offering a complimentary welcome glass of champagne. Passengers will also enjoy:

  • complimentary in-flight entertainment
  • activity kits for children
  • award winning on-board service
  • hot, fresh bistro meals served with a choice of wine
  • one baggage check for free

Those who upgrade to Elite Plus will receive extra leg room, advanced seat selection, separate check-in, priority boarding and baggage handling as well as the ability to check a second bag (weighing up to 22lbs) for for free.

Book it now:

Cancun: Starting Saturdays from January 17 through May 9, 2015, seven-night packages will be offered from Buffalo Niagara International Airport [BUF] to Cancun International Airport [CUN].

Punta Cana: Starting February 14 through May 9, 2015, seven-night packages will be offered for Saturday departures to Punta Cana International Airport [PUJ].

airport blog2The majority of travelers choose all-inclusive resorts when vacationing in Cancun and/or Punta Cana. These resorts offer the most value, as all meals, snacks and drinks are included in the up-front cost.

Starting at $799, you can book a seven-night, all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana which includes your flight, daily activities and nightly entertainment. Similar packages for trips to Cancun start at $999.

Book today by calling 1-800-309-4717 or by visiting VacationExpress.com. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for special deals through our Save Local Now program.

About Vacation Express: Vacation Express, one of the largest tour operators in the southeast United States, has been in business for over 25 years. The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and began its operation in 1989 offering air/land vacation packages to Jamaica. Vacation Express grew rapidly throughout the 90’s to become the premier charter operator in the Southeast and Midwestern part of the US. Today, Vacation Express is a member of family-owned and operated, Toronto-based Sunwing Travel Group Inc., Canada’s leading vertically integrated leisure travel company, and has sold well over 2 million vacation packages to its exotic destinations.

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Brownfield Cleanup Program: needs extension NOW

Time is not just short, it has run out; both Western and Upstate New York need the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) extended now.

The program, which expires in December of 2015, is a critical tool to stimulate revitalization in New York State’s post-industrial cities.

BCP infographicWithout this extension, much of the momentum that the Buffalo Niagara region has gained under the Cuomo administration will come to a halt.

The average project using the BCP program takes 2.8 years to obtain its certificate of completion and receive the credits it needs to make the project work. Only one program has ever completed the program in less than 1 year, which is the exact amount of time we have remaining.

So, for all intents and purposes, the program is basically dead to new applicants.

Since its inception, the program has leveraged more than 4,200 new jobs and over $700 million in new development in Western New York alone.

During this same time, there have been 36,000 direct and indirect newly created jobs and $7 billion in new development across the state as a whole.

Developments that have used BCP as a critical tool include some of our largest buildings and job producers of the five years:

HealthNow Building

HealthNow Headquarters

…and more. Imagine our economy with projects like these in jeopardy.

“The program influences new development, remediates environmental contamination, eliminates blighted properties and encourages growth in sustainable locations. It’s important for our economy, our environment and our overall quality of life,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

“A timely extension of this legislation is critical to maintaining the momentum that the Buffalo Niagara and Upstate New York economies have experienced under Governor Cuomo’s leadership.”

Governor Cuomo must sign the extension into law by the end of the 2014 calendar year.

The extension will allow this essential economic development program to run through the end of March, 2017, when a long-term extension will be required.

welded tube for brownfield blogNew York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is a program that works. In no place is that more evident than through the tremendous momentum in Buffalo-Niagara.

Let Governor Cuomo know that he needs to sign the extension now!

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