North County Chamber Survey

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The North Country Chamber of Commerce has released the results of its Annual Issue Survey, including its annual Business Confidence Index, revealing continued business optimism for the year ahead along with a strong call for further government and spending reforms in both Albany and Washington.

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North County Chamber Survey

  1. 1. PR E S S R E L E A S E - - February 16, 2012For more info: (518) 563-1000 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CHAMBER SURVEY SHOWS CONTINUED REGIONAL OPTIMISM AND A CALL FOR MORE STATE REFORM The North Country Chamber of Commerce has released the results of its Annual Issue Survey,including its annual Business Confidence Index, revealing continued business optimism for the yearahead along with a strong call for further government and spending reforms in both Albany andWashington. The "Business Confidence Index" for 2012 is 91%, with 69% of businesses expecting their businessactivity to be up this year compared with last year and 22% expecting business to be steady. Thiscompares to an index of 93% a year ago, when 79% expected their business to be up while 14%predicted it would be steady. "While this reflects some shift from the up side to remaining steady, a strong majority continue toforesee business growth this year, reflecting optimism that at least here in the North Country we are wellpositioned and will do OK, even as the countrys economic recovery remains slow and uneven," statesGarry Douglas, Chamber President. "Certainly, the strong return of our Quebec friends thanks to theexchange rate and the relatively strong Canadian economy is a part of this." The survey demonstrated an improving attitude toward the New York State economy, whichbottomed out last year with only 9% believing the state economy was heading up and with 45%believing it would continue downward. "Thanks, we believe, to last years strong progress toward fiscal restraint and government reform inAlbany, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo with the support of the State Legislature, this deepnegativity is turning a corner," notes Douglas. "From that lowpoint a year ago, we now have 38%expecting the state economy to be up and only 17% expecting it to continue to decline. Thats a relativesea change, though it still indicates businesses dont believe the job is at all done and are waiting to see if2012 will bring approval of the next wave of change and reform now pending in Albany." The business community called for the following actions by the Governor and State Legislature thissession: * Consolidate state agencies and their operations: 94% * Reduce state mandates on school districts and local governments: 90% * Restructure public employee benefits to more closely align such benefits with comparable private sector benefits: 85% * Enact a new Tier VI public pension law for new state employees in the future that includes a defined contribution option: 82% * Enact permanent cost-saving reforms in major state programs such as Medicaid: 68% * Reductions in state taxes and fees: 66%
  2. 2. 98% are calling for state regulatory relief and simplification to help reduce costs and time delays and tocreate a regulatory environment that is less adversarial. On the question of gambling, 73% believe thestate legislature should send a constitutional amendment allowing state approved casinos to state votersfor a public referendum while 27% are opposed. When asked for their top two priorities for action by the Governor and State Legislature this year, theNorth Country business community identified the following: #1 - Reduce state mandates which cause higher property taxes. #2 - State regulatory relief and simplification. "Through these responses," states Douglas, "the North Countrys job creators are again showing theiroverwhelming support for Governor Cuomos reform and fiscal agenda, and the need to act positively onthat agenda if we are to reinvigorate New Yorks private sector and create a foundation for future growthand success." On the federal level, 93% of respondents indicated they are "very concerned" about federal spendingand debt levels and want them to decrease. The top three actions called for to further national economicrecovery and growth are: #1 - Reduce federal spending. #2 - Reduce mandates and regulations on employers. #3 - Tax relief for businesses and job creation. The regions business community was also asked if existing rail infrastructure in theAdirondack/North Country region should continue to be preserved and used in support of future tourismand economic development, examples including the Tahawus rail link from North Creek and theAdirondack Railroad from Utica to Lake Placid. 90% said yes and 10% said no. The North Country Chamber of Commerce is the largest business and economic developmentorganization in northern New York, linking more than 4,200 companies and employers in Clinton,Franklin, Essex, Hamilton and northern Warren Counties. The Chamber advocates actively for the NorthCountry economy and business community in Albany and Washington, and will use the survey findingsas part of its advocacy efforts over the next several months. - 30 -

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