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Chamber: Business confidence on the rise

Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon addresses a meeting of the North Country Chamber of Commerce at the unvieling of their annual Business Confidence Index. Beside Calnon is Greg MacConnell.

Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon addresses a meeting of the North Country Chamber of Commerce at the unvieling of their annual Business Confidence Index. Beside Calnon is Greg MacConnell. Photo by Shawn Ryan.

— The North Country Chamber of Commerce unveiled its annual Issue Survey, which among other things measures levels of business confidence, and the numbers this year remain are strong.

Chamber President and CEO Garry Douglas said that of the over 4,000 businesses in Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Hamilton and northern Warren counties surveyed, a very health 10 percent responded to the anonymous survey. Of those responding, 58 percent of business owners expect business to increase in the coming year, while 34 percent believe it will remain steady, for an overall Business Confidence Index of 92 percent. Last year’s Index was 90 percent.

Douglas pointed to several factors for the positive numbers, among them strong investment from Canadian companies, and a lowering unemployment rate.

“There’s been a significant drop in unemployment in the last twelve months,” said Douglas. “And this area, the North Country, is the only area in the state that actually grew manufacturing employment in the past year.”

Numerous local politicians were also present at the event, including City of Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon, and Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett.

Speaking of the survey, Bassett said: “Optimism is an emotion; what is driving that emotion is important. When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Douglas spoke too of the more regional approach to business development seen in the North Country in recent years, where growth for one area isn’t seen as failure for another.

While the survey pointed out strong regional confidence, Douglas pointed to other results that show just the opposite for the national scene. Issues such as soaring federal spending, high taxation and especially the Affordable Care Act have businesses believing that federal policies are getting in the way of business progress. Eighty-seven percent of respondents are very concerned with federal spending and debt, and believe both should be decreased.

Seventy-five percent believe that “Obama Care” will increase their cost of doing business, and 67 percent believe it will either eliminate jobs or at the very least decrease job creation.

State political trends fared better, with 93 percent of respondents supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed tax-relief ideas. Other state initiatives fared equally as well.

Well regulated extraction of natural gas from the Southern Tier, also known as “fracking,” received 83 percent support. Gov. Cuomo has yet to take a stand on the issue of fracking.

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