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11/10/2020   - GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS IN A CHALLENGING TIME

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS IN A CHALLENGING TIME

The North Country Chamber has become the key voice of regional business and the North Country economy in both Albany and Washington. Not focusing on big national issues so much as the specific issues, needs and dynamics of our unique region. And always recognizing that we are a small voice within a vast imperial metro-centric state, requiring relationships, pragmatism and a dose of savvy to have an impact.

Effective transitioning of relationships is not just an annual but a constant commitment. As we head for 2021, we have an active collaboration with the incoming Plattsburgh City Mayor, Chris Rosenquest, with whom we have worked as the County's Chamber liaison for a number of years. Similarly with Dan Stec, about to become our main State Senator but already having been an active partner as an Assemblyman. And new Assemblyman Matt Simpson who has been an active partner with us on Adirondack issues through the Adirondack Association of Towns & Villages, while the role and importance of our partner Assemblyman Billy Jones only continues to grow. And in Washington, our collaborative relationships with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and with Congresswoman Stefanik are as solid as ever. 

Our federal and state agendas are under development, but we already know our most immediate federal priority is the earliest possible enactment of a new COVID-19 relief package which includes a second round of the PPP forgivable loan program for small business as well as robust aid for still struggling localities, schools, hospitals and for the MTA and transit agencies who are the key customers for our region's transportation equipment producers. We are also laying groundwork for North Country needs in the run-up to a widely anticipated Infrastructure Bill in 2021, with enhanced federal support for broadband and cell service a key priority.

In the U.S.-Canada equation, we will continue to advocate non-stop for the development of the pathway forward in terms of eventual normalization of border crossings, including a continued press for some reasonable interim steps. 

In Albany, the struggle in 2021 will be to abide by the primary instruction of the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." The last two years have seen an almost unprecedented raft of new state mandates and costs on small business. As these businesses continue to struggle their way forward through the remainder of this pandemic, now is not the time for any added taxes, regulations or burdens. To this end, we and our partners in the Unshackle Upstate Coalition are finalizing the recruitment of a new Executive Director for the new year who will coordinate our messaging in Albany.

Our federal and state priorities will be finalized this month, and we plan to be in Washington as soon as practical in terms of travel. Onward and upward!