After Pandemic Year, Siena Releases 14th Annual Business Leaders Study | WAMC

After Pandemic Year, Siena Releases 14th Annual Business Leaders Study

Apr 26, 2021

The Siena College Research Institute has released its 14th annual survey of Upstate New York Business Leaders.



Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, says the survey, released earlier this month, found 80 percent of more than 1,000 upstate CEOs polled agree that economic conditions in New York state have worsened since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over half of CEOs told us that the demand for their product or service decreased over the course of the year due to COVID 51 percent. That number is even higher. Over 60 percent of CEOs in fields like engineering and construction, our friends in food and beverage, well over 60 percent said the demand decreased. How about revenue? A staggering figure, really, 67 percent of the revenue decreased. Again, specifically in the Southern Tier, we saw that to be over 70 percent, and in engineering construction over 70 percent said that their revenues decreased. “
 

“The results of this survey come as no surprise and underscore the important message the Business Council has been amplifying for months: New York State is in a critical position as a result of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the recently agreed-upon state budget and business tax increases do not help, and only create more harm to private sector employers. It’s crucial state lawmakers take notice of these continued roadblocks to recovery before the opportunity of a full economic turnaround are gone.” ~ Heather Briccetti, President & CEO of The Business Council of New York State

The study, sponsored by the Business Council of New York State, was discussed during a recent webinar. Council President and CEO Heather Briccetti says looming tax increases raise concerns:

“You would think after the experience that we all went through last year and record unemployment and the damage to small business in particular, that the legislature would have been cautious about piling on more burden. What they did instead, is they decided to increase general fund spending by 20 percent. Now contrast that to 10 years of 2 percent. They basically undid whatever good has been, we've felt . When the governor took office, he said New York has no place as the tax capital of the country. And now we're right back there. The taxes that were raised in this budget include an increase on high income earners who contribute approximately 40 percent of the personal income tax that's collected in the state. If they live in Manhattan, they will now pay the highest effective personal income tax rate in the country. “

Levy notes that about four out of 10 survey respondents believe a recession is almost certain in the months ahead.

“That may or may not be a position that you share. And again, it may be a position that is stated from a view of just how bad the pandemic has been for CEOs. It does appear that when we look historically at this group of people that we interviewed, CEOs of for profit companies across upstate, tend to be very hesitant in saying I think things are going to get better.”

Levy says just 12 percent of CEOs (up from 6 percent a year ago) give state government a grade of either excellent or good on creating a climate to help businesses succeed. He adds that even as COVID subsides, CEOS are expressing "guarded optimism," and only about 40 percent express hope for a 2021 recovery, while 39 percent expect worsening conditions.
 

  • The 14th Annual Upstate New York Business Leader Survey was conducted January – March 2021 by mail and internet interviews with 1036 Business Leaders from across Upstate including the Capital Region, Central/Mohawk Valley New York, the Finger Lakes region, the Mid-Hudson region, the Southern Tier region, Westchester and Western New York. Sponsorship for the 2020 Upstate Business Leader Survey was provided by The Business Council of New York State. Additional support was provided by Western Governors University. The study is released in conjunction with the following media partners: Capital Region: The Albany Times Union; Buffalo: Buffalo Business First; Rochester: Rochester Business Journal; Syracuse: Business Journal News Network, Westchester: 914 INC. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State. SCRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.