The North Country Chamber of Commerce unveiled its annual Business Confidence Index Wednesday morning, showing that most businesses expect steady activity over the course of 2020.
The Business Confidence Index and Issue Survey assesses the opinions of regional business on a range of state and federal issues and their expectations for annual growth. Chamber President Garry Douglas noted that they have been conducting the survey for nearly two decades. "We have been doing this survey to take a snapshot of current issues, issues that we believe are in action in Albany and Washington that we'd like to be able to convey a collective sense of where the North Country business community stands. And that all becomes collectively part of our advocacy efforts in Albany and Washington. We're already talking with our legislators about them and have already shared the information with our state and federal officials, and they’ll be guiding a lot of those conversations in the months ahead.”
Douglas said the results show 90% of respondents want the state to close its $6 billion budget gap without raising any taxes; 95% want more and flexible workforce development and training support; and 96% support prioritizing small business tax relief. “Overall priorities in Albany are as follows: Number one, close the state budget gap without raising taxes. Number two, state action to close cell phone service gaps in the North Country. Number three support for workforce development training, recruitment and number four, avoid additional mandates on employers. On the federal front: 99% continue to agree that the U.S.-Canada economic relationship must be supported and preserved as a key to the North Country's current and future economy.”
The chamber asks its members if they expect their business to go up or remain steady over the next year and based on the results issues the Business Confidence Index. Last year 79% expected an increase and 17% anticipated their business would remain steady. For 2020 73% expect an increase and 23% expect steady business. That adds up to a 96 percent confidence index – the same as 2019.
Town Of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman says the slight shift in how much business is expected is not problematic for the overall regional economy. “The reason that the Chamber does this survey is to make sure that the issues are before those that are at the table, having conversations on how to create an environment where people can thrive, not just survive. And there's going to be a certain ebb and flow. But what I do see is that overall there's a great sense of optimism and there is a interest to continue to invest in our community and the greater Plattsburgh region and North Country as a whole.”
The survey of North Country Chamber members was conducted in January.