The North Country Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Business Confidence Index for the region. It comes as the region has received a high ranking from a national economics research firm.
Every year the North Country Chamber asks its members their opinion on national and New York state issues. The survey also asks whether businesses expect to grow compared to the previous year. Chamber officials use the responses to create the Business Confidence Index.
This year, Chamber President and CEO Garry Douglas says the top federal concern was keeping economic partnerships with Canada stable. “The top question we asked was ‘Do you agree that the U.S.-Canada relationship is working for the North Country and must be supported and preserved as a key to the North Country’s current and future economy?’ Statistically we had a 100 percent response because everybody answered yes except for one individual. Maybe they misread the question, who knows? But it gives us a reaffirmation in the strongest possible terms we could imagine of the understanding of how important that relationship is. Ninety-seven percent agree that Congress should approve the updated NAFTA agreement, that that needs to be approved by Congress at the earliest opportunity, bring stability and predictability to the U.S.-Canada economic partnership.”
At the state level, the survey found 92 percent of respondents want the tax cap made permanent. Douglas says tax relief is a priority along with workforce development. "We asked them to rank their various concerns and issues. Number one, and I have to say it was number one by a wide margin, was more support for workforce development and training. Number two we have a tie: state support to help close cell phone service gaps and avoid additional mandates on employers. And then number three make the 2 percent property tax cap permanent.”
After outlining the issues business owners are concerned about, Chamber executives unveiled the 2019 Business Confidence Index. “Can we have the unveiling please? Ninety-six percent. A little bit of a positive shift amongst those expecting their business to go up from 75 percent to 79 percent. They did actually find a way to being even a little more optimistic and a little more confident about the future.”
Micropolitan areas have at least one urban center with an overall population between 10,000 and 50,000. The Development Corporation President Paul Grasso explained the Florida-based independent economic research firm POLICOM has placed Plattsburgh among the top 50 of the 551 such areas across the country. “Plattsburgh was ranked 40th among those areas. But the real important thing is that we’re ranked number one in the state of New York. So there are 14 areas in the state. We’re ranked number one. And they base it on economic strength and they define economic strength as a long term tendency of an area to consistently grow in size and quality. And they look at, not annual rankings, they look at the data over a 20 year period. And so they just see whether or not you’re able to sustain that growth and there’s not just one event that comes in that makes you pop out.”
Grasso says this type of ranking is a crucial element in recruiting new business and industry to the region. “It’s a very competitive industry, economic development, and so you need to use every competitive advantage that you have. And being able to explain to a potential employer that this independent third party has rated this area as having the greatest economic strength in New York state for a micropolitan area it’s huge. It gives them a level of confidence that if they move here they’re going to be supported, things are going to happen, this area is strong in economic development.”
Among the top 100 national micropolitan areas ranked by POLICOM Barre, Vermont is 17th, Keene, NH 50th, Batavia, NY 64th and Oneonta, NY 74th.