Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm An MCC Member Because Contest: Win 2 tickets on Southwest Airlines!

MCC Members! Please finish this sentence: "I'm an MCC member because..." We want to hear your stories!

Why are you an MCC member? It may be for networking and connections, MCC advocacy, MCC community support or our educational programs. We know MCC members have started businesses, formed partnerships, found new clients and found support and success as individuals and for their businesses. We want to hear about how we have helped you! The link below has responses from our last "I'm an MCC Member because contest" and the winning entry!

The best story will win a prize of two roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the US on Southwest Airlines!!! Deadline for submissions: February 3, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

City Council Launches Restaurant Inspection Survey

Contact: 212-788-7116
Release# 008-2012

Council seeks feedback from restaurant owners on City’s food safety inspection process
and new letter grading system.
New York, NY – As part of the City Council’s oversight of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and in response to mounting concerns raised by city restaurateurs regarding the restaurant inspection process, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo today announced the launch of a comprehensive restaurant inspection survey. City restaurant owners and operators are urged to participate in this Council effort to gather information on food safety inspections, with particular emphasis on the recently implemented letter grading system and its impact on city restaurants. Starting today, the survey is available online at and accessible through the Council’s website at The questionnaire will also be available in six different languages. The survey results will provide a foundation for an oversight hearing in late February, where the Council intends to further explore the inspection process and possible areas for reform.
 “I am troubled by the wave of complaints the Council has received from restaurants – even the ones that get A’s – about the fairness and inconsistency of the food safety inspection process,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Any initiative – especially 18 months after establishment – calls for scrutiny. With this survey, we hope to learn more about what is and isn’t working, including whether the grading system has been implemented fairly. The participation of restaurateurs in this analysis is critical, and we look forward to hearing their input.”  
Divided into two sections, the first part of the survey seeks background information about the food establishment and solicits views on DOHMH’s inspection process and the letter grading system. The second section requests recent historical data about experiences with inspections and adjudication in administrative tribunals. Specifically, this section seeks details about violations issued during each inspection from 2008 to the present, along with costs accrued in connection with the payment of fines, consultants and improvements. Survey participants are encouraged to answer as many questions as possible.
“As part of our oversight responsibility, we at the Council must ensure that while our Department of Health works to protect the safety and wellbeing of New Yorkers when consuming food prepared in a restaurant, that it does so fairly,” said Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo. “We have received many complaints from restaurateurs to the contrary, and we hope this survey can provide us with data that can help us correct inefficiencies or inconsistencies in the Department’s inspection process.”  
“While the response from the public toward the restaurant grading system has been overwhelmingly positive, we need to be sure that restaurant owners are being treated fairly,” said Governmental Operations Committee Chair Gale A. Brewer. “Government needs to work with all concerned parties to create a clear, consistent grading system that serves the public good without harming the financial viability of the city’s restaurants or unfairly stigmatizing them.”
“I fully support educating the general public about the sanitary conditions of our city's restaurants, but we must not forget that the impact of an inappropriately earned low grade can result in community stigma and the potential loss of local jobs,” said Oversight and Investigations Chair Jumaane Williams. “We must balance both of these concerns by ensuring that the DOMHH's evaluation process is fair and consistent across the board. Any effort to achieve this result, including this survey, earns my high marks. I look forward to assisting with this effort at the upcoming oversight hearing.”
In July 2010, DOHMH began requiring food service establishments to post letter grades corresponding with scores reflecting sanitary inspections during which restaurants receive points for violations. An inspection score of 0-13 violation points is an A, 14-27 violation points is a B, and 28 or more violation points is a C. Grade cards are meant to be clearly visible to the public.

The Time is Now For Energy Efficiency & High Performance Buildings

This article is submitted by by David Pospisil, Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y.

There is no time like the present to implement energy efficiency measures in your building. Energy prices are likely to continue to be volatile, and new environmental regulations will increase the pressure on businesses to take action. Fortunately, the incentives today are geared toward taking the guesswork out of reducing energy and creating an action plan.

Implementing energy efficiency measures can save a company millions of dollars in energy usage and drastically reduce emissions as well as create a corporate culture that fosters continuous improvement in the areas of sustainability and energy efficiency. If your company doesn’t already have one, now is the right time to set in place an energy efficiency policy.

If you’ve already gone through the Greater Greener Building Plan benchmarking process – a requirement that was to be completed by August 1, 2011 for all New York building owners with 50K square feet or more –  then you are aware of your building’s energy performance rating. If the rating showed your facility is not performing as well as similar buildings, the next step is to commission an energy audit. An energy audit can identify how energy is used in your facility and recommend ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce your energy costs. 

There are various energy audit options. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recognize three levels:

Walk-Through Assessment (Level 1): It provides an energy bill analysis and possibly a brief survey of the facility. Subsequently, the report outlines no-cost and low-cost opportunities.
Energy Survey and Analysis (Level 2): A more detailed analysis taking into consideration the owners’ operations and maintenance, constraints and economic factors. Final report may include potential capital intensive energy efficiency opportunities.
Detailed Analysis (Investment Grade Audit) (Level 3): This analysis provides a higher degree of data collection, monitoring and analysis and focuses on capital intensive opportunities. The report usually includes detailed analysis on project cost and savings.
After an energy audit you should be able to effectively evaluate the many sustainability investment options available and understand where your green dollars will have the greatest impact.

The Con Edison Green Team can be a valuable partner on this front. The Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Energy Efficiency Program ( funds Level 3 audits, up to 50% of the study cost can be co-funded (up to $67,000),  allowing you the opportunity to explore various energy efficient options.

Even in a weak economy, the sooner improvements are made, the sooner savings will add up. The cost of waiting is enormous. It’s like the cost of waiting to enter the PC age and waiting for the greatest, most sophisticated computer to come on the market. Over that period of time you are waiting – in the case of energy efficiency – there are substantial savings that your business is losing. 

When assessing options for investing in energy efficiency, keep in mind these important factors to help ensure a complete assessment of the cost effectiveness:
·         Consider long term and think about the cost and payback that will accrue over the complete life cycle of systems or equipment.
·         Compare the cost of continuing with “business as usual” with no changes versus energy efficiency investments.
·         Consider your public image – strong leadership in energy efficiency demonstrating your commitment to sustainability, conserving energy and saving the environment.

Many organizations see cash flow as a major obstacle to energy efficiency projects especially in tough economic times. The good news is there are multiple resources. For example, Con Edison, offers a variety of incentive programs – Con Edison’s Green Team  has many programs that can help reduce the cost of energy, like the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Energy Efficiency Program (

The C&I program offers a number of financing incentives through rebates and other means to promote energy efficiency retrofits and installations.  The incentives typically cover standard energy efficiency equipment for lighting and lighting controls, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), furnace, boilers and other gas equipment, motors, variable frequency drive (VFDs), and DDC/controls.  These programs may also allow for customized measures. 

In most cases, financing can be structured so that the projects can be repaid from energy savings, negating the need for upfront capital. Check with your utility to see what opportunities are available. A good energy service company can guide your organization, offering special financing while the government provides tax credits and low interest loans for energy efficiency projects.

For the New York metro area and Westchester County, contact the Con Edison Green Team and the C&I Energy Efficiency Program to assist with your energy efficiency needs.  For more information, visit or call 1-877-797-6347.

Caption: Meet the Green Team's Business Development Group. From left to right: Tom Cunneen, Business Development Lead; Steve Morris;  Cindy Nardiello; Arthur Pearson; Judy Stasack; Lauren Morin; Frank Lynch; Tom Lewis; Warren Gary; David Paige; Adam Carnegie; Dan Deleon. Not present: George Sakelaris

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Wage Bill's Effect on Jobs

Happy New Year, MCC Members and the NYC Business Community. The following is a letter written by MCC President Nancy Ploeger in response to the following article in the NY Times:

MCC continues to advocate on your behalf for job creation and economic development in NYC.

To the Editor:

"A Living Wage, Long Overdue" (editorial, Dec. 26) did not mention New York City's own failed experience with a so-called living-wage law: the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.
Rather than a bustling retail center creating thousands of jobs, the armory sits embarrassingly empty after politicians demanded wage requirements more than two years ago. Today, no serious plan is in sight for Kingsbridge, and the community is deprived of good jobs.

While the wage bill before the City Council is well intentioned, Kingsbridge shows that it will result in fewer jobs for New Yorkers when job creation should be our No. 1 focus. It also unfairly increases costs for retailers and other tenants who do the right thing by investing in vulnerable neighborhoods but, unlike developers, receive no financial incentives from the city.

The Kingsbridge Armory is Exhibit 1 in the debate about wage mandates in New York City.

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
New York, Dec. 27, 2011