The Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce works with our member businesses, organizations, and the academic community who serve on committees, subcommittees, task forces, and councils to develop and implement policy on major issues affecting business in our region of Washington, Warren, Northern Saratoga and Essex Counties.
November 4, 2018 - Rural & Agriculture Jobs Act
In Washington, Warren, Saratoga and Essex Counties, we understand the struggles of rural communities that are working so hard to attract and retain businesses of all shapes and sizes. The Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce is focused on helping member businesses build awareness of their goods and services, expand their operations, and connect with other organizations across the region to help support their growth and success.
But we need Governor Cuomo to help us, help Upstate.
Rural areas like St. Lawrence County in the North Country are hurting, with an average unemployment rate of 6 percent – among the highest in New York, and nearly double the national average.
In the rural Southern Tier, years of economic depression and job loss have made the region a leader in one category: population decline. Eight Southern Tier counties are among the state’s 25 with the most people fleeing – totaling more than 27,000.
And in our region, we have similar challenges.
However, there is a plan in place that could help jump-start investment and job creation in these rural areas.
The Post Star recently reported on legislation known as the Rural and Agriculture Jobs Act, which had wide bi-partisan support in the Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. A coalition of business groups, agricultural associations and individuals have banded together and formed the campaign Revive Rural NY to show the Governor that real people who live, pay taxes and raise their families in Upstate support this bill.
The bill would establish a $100 million fund created through private investment, to help small businesses that are agricultural in nature or located in struggling rural areas. It would improve access to capital for rural and agriculture-related businesses that often have difficulty obtaining financial backing through traditional lending sources. WestWind Farms in Moreau, featured in the Post Star article, is an example of a local business that would have access to the tools they need to expand as a result of this legislation.
Private investors who contribute to the program would receive a tax credit, and reporting requirements are also included for accountability.
I strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation and help revive rural areas through agricultural investment. This will support businesses and farms as they work to create new jobs and help families remain in the communities they love.
Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce
October 4, 2018 - A Message from Michael Bittel, ARCC President/CEO
The Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce is pleased to announce that the Department of Labor has extended the Sexual Harassment Training deadline to October 9, 2019 from December 31, 2018.
Your Chamber worked diligently with Senator Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner to extend this timeline. Many thanks to each of them for their time, attention and follow through.
Here are some facts and information on the training:
While the initial training period has been extended, please note that your employee policy requirements must be updated by October 9, 2018.
September 25, 2018 - A Message from Michael Bittel, ARCC President/CEO
“Many thanks to Megan Collelo of Bond, Schoeneck and King Attorneys for speaking today to an Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce crowd about New York State’s new annual Discrimination Training Requirements. Just a reminder for those who could not attend, these requirements are due on October 9, 2018 to have ready for your employees. Training for all employees is currently due by December 31, 2018. We are still waiting for New York State to put forth the updated requirements.
Your Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce has been in contact with State elected officials, the Department of Labor and the Governor’s office to urge the Department of Labor to extend the initial training period to at least March 31, 2019."
September 9, 2018 - ARCC President Michael Bittel joined Supervisor for the Town of Moreau Todd Kusnierz for interview on LOOK TV to discuss the new Moreau Sewer District. Check out the video here.
Proposed Moreau Sewer District Extension
On August 27, 2018, owners of 86 parcels of land on a portion of Route 9 in the Town of Moreau have an opportunity to vote on a “Resolution establishing extension No. 5 of Sewer District No. 1 within the Town of Moreau”. We at the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce believe a “YES” vote will encourage job growth, in the long-term lower taxes and address vital environmental concerns.
The proposed sewer district section of Route 9 is roughly 1500 feet south of Butler Road almost meeting Exit 17 of the Northway. Putting in this sewer line will encourage businesses to grow in this area, both current owners and new owners, in turn providing more jobs for our region. More businesses moving in and expanding means more opportunity for our friends and neighbors and lower tax rates for the residents of the Town of Moreau. Concentrating businesses in an established commercial area is smart planning and good stewardship by the Town of Moreau leadership.
The ongoing quality of the Town’s water table would also be addressed with this sewer line implementation. This portion of Moreau has sandy soil. When you have sandy soil, it is tougher for wastewater to be filtered prior to being re-introduced into the water table. A sewer pipe laid in this densely populated use area would address water quality concerns, especially as Department of Health regulations continue to become stricter. The alternative is for individual businesses to continue to upgrade costly individual septic systems as current systems fail in the future.
We are also pleased with the transparency by Moreau Town Supervisor Todd Kusnierz and the Town Council regarding this proposal. Several open town board meetings were held to hear from residents of the area. The Town of Moreau website, http://www.townofmoreau.org/proposed_sewer_district.asp, has a listing of costs, maps, bond resolution, SEQRA resolution, how to vote, who can vote, and much more.
In the eyes of the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce, more jobs, maintaining water quality in the Town, transparency by Town leaders and long-term lower taxes add up to a “YES” vote for us on August 27, 2018. We hope it does for you too.
Eliminating the Tip Credit
Governor Cuomo is having the New York State Department of Labor look into raising the minimum wage for servers and bartenders. Currently, servers and bartenders make a minimum wage of $7.50 per hour while the “general” New York State minimum wage is $10.40 per hour. That gap is called a Tip Credit. On the surface it seems that this would put servers and bartenders at equal pay with others who make minimum wage. With that said, New York law already states that if a server or bartender does not make enough in tips to equate to $10.40 per hour ($7.50 per hour plus tips greater than $10.40 per hour), then the employer will make up the difference in wages to achieve the $10.40 per hour.
Sometimes the best of intentions doesn’t always address the problem you are trying to solve. First and foremost, I remember serving at Papa Gino’s, where Starbucks is now on Aviation Road. I made below minimum wage but the harder I worked the more tips I received. With my base pay and my tips, I made far and above minimum wage. This is the biggest reason that most servers I have spoken with don’t want their base pay increased, because study after study shows when that happens, customers tip less. Maine implemented this action and they couldn’t rescind it fast enough. It wasn’t the restaurant owners who were the loudest voice to rescind the law, it was the servers and bartenders.
Most restaurants in our area already struggle with day to day operations, food costs, current regulations and tourism fluctuations. Restaurant owners have little options to absorb the $2.90 per hour increase. The limited options include raising menu prices, cutting the number of servers and overall staff, and being open fewer hours. In places where this policy has been implemented, restaurant closure rate increased dramatically.
All of this brings us to you, the customer. With an increase in minimum wage for servers and bartenders, you the customer will pay more, with less serving hour options and less staff. So many of our restaurants are local, owned by our neighbors and they want to give you the best food and service possible. This elimination of the Tip Credit will make a lifetime of hard work and service for many of our restaurant owners and neighbors a struggle at best and for many closures a real possibility.
The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce hopes that the best thinking goes into the Tip Credit issue. There is rarely a time when all involved, the employee, the employer and the customer win. This is one of those times, let’s all win and keep the Tip Credit in place.