Outlook 2022: Schenectady a home for state workers; Agencies employ hundreds downtown, beyond

The state Worker’s Compensation Board is headquartered at 328 State St.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The state Worker’s Compensation Board is headquartered at 328 State St.

SCHENECTADY — While Schenectady isn’t New York state’s capital — it’s doubtful Schenectadians would want it to be — that doesn’t mean the city’s downtown isn’t full of state workers.

State employees based in Schenectady have responsibilities that touch people’s everyday lives, from processing state Lottery sales and payouts to making sure state highways are drivable come ice, snow or both.

Two agencies have their statewide administrative headquarters in the city, within a few hundred feet of each other at the corner of State Street and Broadway.

The state Workers Compensation Board is headquartered at 328 State, with roughly 400 employees.

The New York State Gaming Commission, meanwhile, occupies three floors of the tower at One Broadway, where it oversees the state Lottery Division — giant letters atop the nine-story building spelling out NY LOTTERY are a dead giveaway.

More: Outlook 2022 – Spotlighting businesses around the Schenectady area

In addition to managing the Lottery, the Gaming Commission oversees the integrity and safety of the state’s horseracing industry and is the regulator of the state’s tribal and commercial gambling operations, including Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. It also regulates video lottery terminal casinos such as Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Both agencies moved here from Albany in recent decades, as the state has sought to make more efficient use of office space in communities where rents are cheaper than they are in downtown Albany, and to spread out its workforce and their economic impact.

The Workers Compensation Board has occupied the office building since 2012, shortly after the regional offices of the state Department of Transportation were moved to Colonie. While DOT was leasing the building, the state has since bought it.

From those offices, the state administers the workers’ compensation system, which handles the claims of private-sector workers who are injured on the job, determining when they are entitled to compensation and how much they will receive.

While the board has customer service and hearing locations around the state, board spokeswoman Missy Stewart said about 40% of the agency’s total workforce – roughly 400 people – are based in Schenectady.

Those working in Schenectady include the board’s executive leadership, claims examiners, customer-support personnel, financial managers, human resources, hearing examiners and adjudicators, compliance, licensing, public information, graphic design, web support and other services. The board is actively hiring, Stewart noted.

The board, like other state agencies and all public and private employers, has made modifications to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace.

There are ongoing cleaning and sanitation protocols, and a mandate that employees mask and be vaccinated, or if not vaccinated, submit to weekly testing.

“Additionally, the board has modified our workspaces to include Plexiglass separators where appropriate and follows social distancing protocols in limiting the number of people in common spaces,” Stewart said.

The state Gaming Commission, meanwhile, has been an anchor tenant in downtown Schenectady since 1991, when the state Lottery Division was moved from offices in Albany into the then-new Broadway building.

The Gaming Commission was created in 2013, with the merger of the Lottery Division and state Racing and Wagering Board, which focused on horseracing oversight. At the time, legislation had just allowed for VLT casinos, and those enterprises were placed under the commission’s jurisdiction. Full gaming casinos have since been legalized at four upstate locations, including Rivers in Mohawk Harbor, under a review process overseen by the commission.

More recently, oversight of sports betting and online wagering have been added to the commission’s duties.

“The Commission provides the regulatory structure necessary for New York gaming activity to operate effectively in a global, evolving and increasingly competitive marketplace to generate revenue for aid to education and for the support of government, and to contribute to overall economic development and job creation in New York,” according to the state Budget Division.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2022-2023 executive budget called for the commission to consider applications for up to four more casino licenses, with the expectation that most, if not all, would be in the New York City metropolitan area.

The workforce, however, is expected to get smaller if Hochul’s budget is adopted by the state Legislature. The commission is currently authorized for 430 full-time equivalent positions, a little more than half of whom are assigned to the Lottery Division. While the commission has employees at Lottery centers, racetracks and gambling facilities across the state, most are based in Schenectady.

According to the state Division of the Budget, employment would drop to 391, due primarily to the office of the gaming inspector general being moved from the Gaming Commission to the Office of Inspector General. The impact on employment in Schenectady if that happens is unclear.

But not everyone who works for the state in Schenectady has a heated office, computer monitors and ceiling lights.

More: Outlook 2022 – Spotlighting businesses around the Schenectady area

The state Department of Transportation maintains two road maintenance facilities in Schenectady County. The main facility is on Chrisler Avenue Extension, near the Schenectady-Rotterdam municipal line off Interstate 890, and there is a subfacility in Duanesburg. DOT has 37 employees in the county.

Employees include maintenance workers, mechanics and support staff, who are responsible for around-the-clock snowplowing in winter, and year-round maintenance such as pavement and guardrail repairs, mowing and tree trimming. Yes, jobs are available.

“We are always looking to add a few more crew members to round out our team,” said DOT regional spokesman Bryan Viggiani. Candidates can stop by or apply online at ny.gov/dotjobs, he said.

In addition, during the tax season the state Department of Taxation and Finance employs several hundred people at a call center at ViaPort Rotterdam. The call center is actively hiring on the state jobs website.

Looking for work?
Available jobs at all the local state agencies, as well as agencies in Albany and around the state, are posted daily at statejobs.ny.gov/.

Categories: Business, Outlook 2022, Schenectady

1 Comments
niskyperson February 28, 2022
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the state should get out of the lottery business.