Chamber Corner for January 7th

State of the State a Mixed Bag for Business

Written by Todd J. Tranum, President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State message offers some encouraging moves for the business community, and a few concerns as well.

One of our key concerns is around the proposal to move from an income tax system to a statewide payroll tax system.  It’s designed, obviously to reduce federal income taxes in the wake of the repeal of the full State and Local Income Tax (SALT) deduction. But it presents some apprehension as well.  Heather Bricetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, points out that it appears at face value as a new tax on businesses.

Bricetti said, “We have major concerns with a new payroll tax, and with increasing business taxes to offset reductions in federal taxes – especially Since New York’s 2014 corporate tax reform legislation, pushed by The Business Council and championed by Governor Cuomo, has finally made our business tax climate more competitive among the states. We believe that the prudent path is a comprehensive response to address our budget deficit and federal tax changes. New York must examine all major categories of state spending, including the largest – Medicare and education – and address other long-recognized cost drivers including Scaffold Law. As the Governor and the Legislature begin to tackle what will surely be a difficult budget season, we ask that they remember these simple words, ‘first, do no harm.’”

The other major concern we find with the Governor’s message is that New York State is facing a short-term deficit of $4-billion. While no one relishes cuts in programs, it is clear that our state lawmakers have a major undertaking this year to help close that gap as they work on a budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

At the same time, the Governor is moving to address a number of important initiatives designed to help our business community, especially in the realm of workforce development. His focus on encouraging collaborative partnerships among business and training institutions to address workforce needs expands on initiatives that several communities statewide have already been promoting, including our own Dream It Do It program in Western New York. Efforts to develop a more highly skilled workforce, as well as to focus on STEM, P-TECH and early childhood education are also welcome news.

For Chautauqua County as a whole, a plan to expand and encourage additional governmental shared services through financial incentives is a step in the right direction. Chautauqua County played a lead role over the past few years in these moves, and a stronger statewide directive is important.

We are encouraged that additional tourism promotion made the Governor’s to-do list, especially in the wake of a growing tourist industry here in Chautauqua County.  We are also pleased to see Chautauqua Lake on the priority list for attention through a $65-million plan to aggressively combat harmful algae blooms that threaten both drinking water and the recreational use of lakes all across the state.

As always, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these items as they move toward budget legislation in Albany, and will be advocating for all measures that boost business in New York State, and make our county a better place to live and work.

Doors Open Jamestown is January 20

Once again this year, many attractions in the Jamestown area will open their doors for free, to give local people a chance to be tourists in their hometown and to see for free what hundreds of tourists pay for each year.  Doors Open Jamestown is set for Saturday, January 20 from 10am-5pm.  Participating attractions are:  Audubon Community Nature Center, Busti Grist Mill, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Chautauqua Striders, DAR House, Dykeman Young Gallery, Fenton History Center, Infinity Visual & Performing Arts Center, James Prendergast Library, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, Martz Observatory, Northwest Arena, Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, Robert H. Jackson Center, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, and Spire Theater.  We encourage everyone to visit our outstanding attractions during this free event, and while you’re at it, spend some time and money in our local businesses, shopping and having lunch or dinner. Doors Open is sponsored by Jamestown Up Close, Jamestown Renaissance Center, and the Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce.

Jamestown Chamber Salute to the Finest Set for February 5

The Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce Salute to the Finest will be held on Monday, February 5 at Shawbucks Press Room. The social hour begins at 5:30, with dinner and program to follow at 6pm. This event is sponsored by Lake Shore Paving and Elegant Edibles.  The full list of award recipients will be announced shortly. Event registration is available on the Chamber website at http://www.chautauquachamber.org or by calling the Chamber at (716) 484-1101.

Fredonia Chamber Annual Banquet is February 8

The Fredonia Community Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Awards Banquet on Thursday, February 8 at the Fredonia Beaver Club. This event will open with a cocktail hour at 5:30, with dinner to be served at 6:30. Event registration is available on the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org or by calling the Chamber at (716) 366-6200.

Volunteers Sought for Winter Festival

Planning is well underway this year as the Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber will once again host its annual Winter Festival on Presidents Day Weekend at Lakeside Park, Mayville. Anyone who would like to volunteer for this extraordinary annual event is asked to contact Chamber Coordinator Debby Marsala at (716) 753-3113 or email dmarsala@chautauquachamber.org. Providing the cold weather holds for another month, there will be an ice castle constructed this year. But the event goes on despite the weather with lots of activities for families. All kinds of volunteer help is needed.

MetLife Products through Chamber/MAST

We are often asked by members and their employees who have enrolled in MetLife products through the Chamber, “Do I get an insurance card?” or “Where can I review benefit information?” MetLife will not mail cards and plan information to you, however, you can go online, register, and get access to plan information and print cards.  Visit www.mybenefits.metlife.com.  The Association/Group is Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce (not your employer.) You will be asked to Register Now to setup personal login credentials.  On this site you will also be able to search for in-network dental and vision providers for your MetLife plan.  If you have any additional questions about your plan or accessing your coverage information from MetLife, please contact Kevin Sixbey, Director of Insurance Services 716-484-1101.

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