City of Binghamton, New York

Binghamton & Regional Economy

Binghamton & Regional Economy

According to the NY State Department of Labor, the Southern Tier’s economy continues to bounce back from the worst economic downturn in 75 years. Over the 6-year period ending 2016, the region's private sector job count climbed by 5,200, or 2.2% to 237,200. Moreover the region's growing job count has helped to push down the region's unemployment rate from 7.8% in September 2010 to 4.9% in September 2016. 

Higher education has been a key factor to the region’s economic success. The region is home to several Ivy League and internationally-recognized universities, community colleges and training providers who offer instruction in a broad range of technical fields. Higher education (public/private) accounts for over 20,000 jobs, or about 1 of every 12 jobs in the region. Binghamton University has an annual impact of over $1 billion on the region; produces 264,000 visitors a year and directly or indirectly results in almost 12,000 jobs for a total impact of 12% of the region’s GDP.

In the 2014-20 period Binghamton University will spend at least $184 million on multiple construction and renovation projects in and around its Vestal campus. A $70 million Smart Energy Research and Development facility is almost completed. BU plans to add classrooms, offices, food service facilities and laboratories. New tuition revenue is expected to increase enrollment by 2,000 students and the hiring of 150 new faculty members between 2012 and 2016. The initiative is expected to create more than 800 jobs.

Manufacturing has played an important historical role in the economy of the Southern Tier, until recently accounting for a larger proportion of private sector jobs than nationwide. As of February 2016, according to the NYS Department of Labor, private sector employment in the Southern Tier totaled 80,100 jobs in the Binghamton MSA. Manufacturing accounted for 10,700 jobs down from 17,900 in 2008. The most common occupations in the industry include assemblers, inspectors, testers, and engineers. Health and education accounted for 16,800 jobs up from 15,800 on the eve of the recession. Employment in government declined to 22,900 jobs. Hospitality and leisure remained increased to 10,000; trade transportation and utilities declined from 21,100 to 19,600 jobs.

Flex Tech Alliance: according to the NYS Department of Labor, universities in the Southern Tier have long been involved in cutting-edge research and development in the electronics field. Binghamton University (BU) will direct New York’s share of a new $75 million, five-year federal initiative to advance flexible hybrid electronics. This is an innovative process at the intersection of electronics and high-precision printing. This field has the potential, for example, to create sensors that can be lighter in weight, or conform to the curves of a human body, and stretch across the shape of an object or structure. This funding will build on BU’s capabilities in electronics packaging and manufacturing. The university’s researchers will work with some prominent New York State companies — including Corning, i3 Electronics, General Electric and Lockheed Martin — to develop and manufacture this new technology. More companies are expected to join the initiative. Researchers at Cornell University and SUNY’s multi-campus Network of Excellence in Materials and Advanced Manufacturing are also expected to participate. The New York researchers will work closely with the Flex Tech Alliance, a national industry advocacy group with members from academia, industry and government, to develop industry roadmaps and project plans. A number of projects are currently underway. A handful of academic and private sector jobs are expected to be created in the first two years of the initiative. However, this groundwork has the potential to create hundreds of good-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs in the future, when these research initiatives hit the production stage.

Revival of Railcar Manufacturing: the Southern Tier is home to several large railcar makers. The largest ones include Elmira Heights-based CAF USA, a subsidiary of a Spanish company, and Hornell-based Alstom, which is part of a French multinational company. The local industry’s job count expanded from 570 in 2010 to 950 in 2015, for a gain of more than 65%. In 2015, railcar makers in the Southern Tier paid their workers an average salary of $67,000, which is about 50% higher than the region's overall private sector wage. Alstom recently won a set of contracts with Amtrak to produce 28 new high-speed trains as part of a $2.5 billion program to modernize Amtrak's railcars. The first new train is expected to enter service in 2021, with the rest due to be in service by the end of 2022. All trains in the current fleet will be retired. The new contracts will have a significant employment impact, creating about 750 jobs in New York State. This jobs total includes direct employment of 400 people at Alstom, and an additional 350 people at subcontractors across New York State.

Transportation and Warehousing: Transportation and warehousing is a third industry group that has experienced significant job growth in recent years. In 2010-2015, the number of Southern Tier workers in this industry grew by 780, or 19%, to 4,950. Like railcar manufacturing, future hiring prospects in this industry are promising. Fortune 500 company Dick's Sporting Goods, which was founded in 1948 in Binghamton, plans to invest $100 million to build a regional distribution facility in the Town of Conklin (Broome County). Dick's currently has more than 740 stores and $7.3 billion in sales. The company’s investment is expected to create 466 jobs over the next five years. Construction on the 650,000-sq.-ft. facility will begin later this year and is slated for completion in early 2018.

Recent Binghamton trends: Growth in Manufacturing, University Housing, Arts

CMP Advance Mechanical Solutions located on Bevier Street, continues to expand operations. It designs, engineers and manufactures mechanical, sheet metal and machined systems and enclosures for customers such as Alstom, Tesla and Universal Instruments

McIntosh Laboratory, founded in 1946, manufactures some of the world's finest high-end audio equipment from its factory on Chambers Street. McIntosh is highly recognizable for their black glass front panels, “McIntosh Blue” amplifier power meters and iconic logo. McIntosh equipment powered Woodstock and legendary bands such as The Beach Boys, Grateful Dead (their Wall of Sound), Willie Nelson, and Earth Wind & Fire.

Mountain Fresh Dairy located on Conklin Avenue, re-occupied the former Crowley’s dairy plant and is ramping up production of ultra-kosher products, including milk, Greek yogurt, and hard cheeses. The company shares space with Instant Whip, a distributor of dairy products to regional retail outlets.

Recent trends: Growth in Manufacturing, University Housing, Arts

Expanding downtown arts community/loft dwelling: older buildings in Binghamton’s central business district have become much sought properties for artists and a new generation of urbanites seeking the charms of  late 19th century construction and the ambience of a small valley city. 

First Fridays/Arts Walk: Since February 2004, the City’s arts community hosts monthly First Fridays/Gallery Night. On the first Friday of each month, downtown art galleries are open offering wine, cheese and live entertainment. The monthly cultural celebration draws increasing numbers of arts patrons from 2-4 hours away.

Student housing projects: Binghamton University continues to expand student enrollment and various private developers have responded by renovating historic older buildings in the central business district to meet market demand for loft housing with projects such as 20 Hawley Street, Chenango Place, University Lofts, the Printing House and Twin River Commons.

Demand for properties in the downtown State and National Register historic districts continues to rise – especially for mixed-use properties - converting 19th century buildings into lofts, art galleries and studios. 

Additional factors driving city real estate interest are:

  • Increasing awareness of the close proximity of Binghamton to New York City
  • Investment interest in capitalizing on lower property and labor costs vs. southeastern New York
  • Post 9/11 safety concerns about living and working in the greater New York area
  • Realization that many businesses can be operated from comparatively relaxed upstate locations.
  • Recognition of area’s strengths: attractive rivers, hill sides and natural surroundings, good schools, interesting historic architecture, low crime, good roads, short commutes, ethnic diversity, police and fire protection

New York is:

  • The world’s 11th largest economy – headquarters for many world corporations. According to Newsweek magazine, New York State would rank as the 4th largest state economy in the world with a GDP in 2015 of $1.45 trillion, a year in which it produced nearly the same amount of economic output last year as Canada ($1.55 trillion) and would have ranked as the world’s 11th largest economy last year as a separate country, ahead of both South Korea ($1.38 trillion) and Russia ($1.32 trillion).
  • 4th in the nation in worker productivity: according to Empire State Development, as measured by gross domestic product per worker. At $958 billion, New York’s Gross Domestic Product ranks third in the U.S. and the State’s per worker productivity surpasses the national average by 25 percent.
  • First in the nation for number of degrees awarded in materials sciences, computer sciences and medical sciences; with over 300 two- and four-year colleges and universities, New York is ranked second for number of degrees awarded in electrical engineering, mathematics, and biological sciences; and is ranked third for number of civil and mechanical engineering degrees awarded.
  • An educated state: 30% of all adults have completed 4+ years of college compared to about 20% for the U.S. as a whole.
  • Home to SEMATECH-North (Albany), a global consortium of 12 major computer chip manufacturers, which located its next generation computer chip research and development center at the Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics at Albany. In attracting this important facility over other sites in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, New York advanced its image as a leader in chip research and development and raised its world status as a forerunner in the technologies of tomorrow.
  • Home to Global Foundries, former division of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in Malta, NY. The $4.2 billion plant is one of the world’s most technologically advanced.