• Advocacy

  • ARCC Advocacy Call to Action - Oppose New York Health Act

    June 7, 2021

    Your Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce has written Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie asking them to take no action on the proposed New York Health Act (S 5474/A 6058), otherwise known as government run single payer healthcare. We believe there are other solutions to addressing any health care coverage short falls in New York, as outlined in the letter below.
     
    We are urging you to take action and contact our elected officials to ask them to take no action on the proposed New York Health Act (S 5474/A 6058). Please be sure to include your business name/letterhead and your title in your communication.
     
    Please feel free to use any of the information in the letter below to send an email or call the following elected officials:
     
    Governor Andrew Cuomo
    P: 518.474.8390
     
    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    P: 518.455.2585 or 518.455.2715
    F: 518.426.6811 or 518.426.6844
     
    Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
    P: 518.455.3791
    F: 518.455.5459
     
    Senator Daphne Jordan
    P: 518.371.2751 or 518.455.2381
     
    Senator Dan Stec
    P: 518.743.0968 or 518.455.2811
     
    Assemblyman Matt Simpson
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    F: 518.455.3727 or 518.584.5496
     
    Assemblyman Jake Ashby
    F: 518.455.5923 or 518.477.5404
     

    June 7, 2021
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    188 State Street Room 907
    Legislative Office Building
    Albany, NY 12247
     
    Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie
    Legislative Office Building, Room 932
    Albany, NY 12248
     
     
    Re: New York Health Act (S 5474/A 6058)
     
     
    Dear Governor, Senator and Assemblymember,
     
    Thank you for supporting New York State as the most proactive state in the nation regarding the health care needs of our New York citizens. With that said, we ask that you take no action on the proposed New York Health Act (S 5474/A 6058). There are other solutions to addressing any health care coverage short falls in New York.
     
    If the goal is to provide health insurance coverage for all New Yorkers, we can do that within the current system. Over a million New Yorkers are eligible for Medicaid but not currently signed up. Let’s focus time, energy and resources on finding these neighbors and signing them up. Secondly, there are New Yorkers who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Let’s re-examine the Medicaid earning thresholds, reach out to these fellow citizens and get them signed up. 
     
    New York cannot afford the $250,000,000 price tag associated with State Run Health Care. We also cannot afford to lose 150,000 Private Health Insurance employee related jobs. Our great state needs a continued balance of private health insurance companies and Medicaid to serve all New Yorkers.
     
    Thank you much for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me at 518-798-1761 should you have any questions.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
     
    Michael T. Bittel
    President/CEO
     
    CC: Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43
     
    Senator Dan Stec, NY-45
      Assemblyman Matt Simpson, NY-114
      Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
      Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107

     

  • CALL TO ACTION - Get People Back to Work

    April 28, 2021
     
     
    We know that there are New Yorkers who need a helping hand during difficult times in their life and need a safety net that Unemployment Insurance provides. With that said, there are many folks who can go back to work but who are incented by the current Unemployment Insurance payments to stay at home. The number one challenge that our businesses currently face (outside of COVID-19) is finding employees to work. Please help us get people back to work. Our economy is expanding rapidly in our region and we need employees to service our region.
     
    Please see below a letter to Governor Cuomo, and our elected officials, urging them to help us get people back to work.

    April 28, 2021
     
     
    Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
     
    Re: Let’s get people back to work
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    We know that there are New Yorkers who need a helping hand during difficult times in their life and need a safety net that Unemployment Insurance provides. With that said, there are many folks who can go back to work but who are incented by the current Unemployment Insurance payments to stay at home. The number one challenge that our businesses currently face (outside of COVID-19) is finding employees to work. Please help us get people back to work. Our economy is expanding rapidly in our region and we need employees to service our region.
     
    Instruct NY Department of Labor to return to pre-pandemic “work search requirements”. Vermont is returning to pre-pandemic “work search requirements” on May 9, 2021. For those who can work, please have NYDOL help them in finding a job, there are plenty of jobs out there that pay well and will be long term careers. Going back to pre-pandemic “work search requirements” will also help diminish fraud as well, which is at an all-time high in NY State.
     
    Please do not extend Unemployment benefits again. Again, our economy is healthy and there are plenty of good jobs in our region. We need people to come on out and work, and help our community and themselves, to keep our economy healthy.
     
    Getting people back to work will help fund Unemployment Insurance for those who need it. Our businesses and our State are being hit with enormous Unemployment bills which are driving up the cost of business and our taxes in New York. These increases in Unemployment costs take away from a business’s opportunity to invest in pay, benefits, etc. for their employees.
     
    Our business community can no longer afford to compete with Unemployment Insurance payments. One of our largest employers in Washington County, Telescope Furniture, is a perfect example of how the NYDOL pandemic work search requirements and extended unemployment benefits are affecting our region. From September to the present Telescope Furniture had 541 people apply for jobs. After the initial call by the potential employee, 208 never returned a call from Telescope Furniture. Another 53 were scheduled an interview and never showed up to the interview. An additional 53 were hired and never showed up for their orientation. Bottom line, Telescope Furniture’s business is booming. When all is said and done, they were able to hire and keep only 9.6% of their initial inquiries after 60 days.     
     
    Thank you for your consideration. We still need to take care of those who still truly need Unemployment Benefits AND the time is now to help those who can work get back to work.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
     
    CC:    

    Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43

     

    Senator Dan Stec, NY-45

     

    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113

     

    Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107

     

    Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107


     

  • Call to Action - HERO Act Opposition

    April 23, 2021

    Your Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce has written Governor Cuomo asking him to veto S.1034B/A.2681B known as the NY Rights and Essential Health Order. While this bill on the surface has good intentions, it adds unneeded burdens on our businesses, which are mentioned in the letter below.
     
    We are urging you to take action and contact our elected officials to oppose the HERO Act. Please be sure to include your business name/letterhead and your title in your communication.
     
    Please feel free to use any of the information in the letter below to send an email or call the following elected officials:
     
    Governor Andrew Cuomo
    518.474.8390
     
    Senator Daphne Jordan
    518.371.2751 or 518.455.2381
     
    Senator Dan Stec
    518.743.0968 or 518.455.2811
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
     
    Assemblyman Jake Ashby
     
    Assemblyman Matt Simpson

    April 22, 2021
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, comprised of 700 plus members who employ over 20,000 New Yorkers, ask that you veto S.1034B/A.2681B known as the NY Rights and Essential Health Order. While this bill on the surface has good intentions, it adds unneeded burdens on our businesses, and it fails to recognize the following:
     
    This bill adds a huge layer of regulation on our already struggling businesses. This bill adds a layer of the Department of Labor on top of the Department of Health in determining airborne pathogen safety protocols. Our business community already have these safety protocols in place and have already spent millions of dollars on PPE, air systems, etc. Per your own data, businesses account for less than 5% of COVID-19 transmissions. Our business community works hard to support and keep their employees safe. Our businesses are motivated to keep their employees safe and healthy so that they are happy and productive at work.
     
    This bill allows for added punitive fines to our small business community. Our small business community is already struggling through these tough times. We already have a structure in place at the State and County levels to address businesses who do not comply with COVID-19 and airborne pathogen protocols.
     
    The bill adds in the right of the employee to take civil action against the employer regarding health and safety protocols.  Our employees are already covered under State and Federal law regarding an employer providing a safe workplace. Our employees have direct access to agencies to voice their concerns and are already protected by “whistleblower statutes”. This bill would add millions of wasted dollars of insurance to our struggling business community and open them up to frivolous lawsuits.
     
    The bill adds that businesses with ten or more employees must form an airborne safety working committee that is comprised of two thirds employees (those in non-management/non-supervisory capacities). Our businesses, no matter the number of employees, go the extra mile in keeping their employees safe. It should be up to our private businesses as to how they meet and exceed health and safety protocols and regulations.
     
    All of our businesses already have a vested interest in keeping their employees safe, healthy, and happy. Please help us by vetoing this bill so that our already struggling business community can move forward to brighter days ahead. 
     
    Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance at 518-798-1761.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
     
    Michael T. Bittel
    President/CEO
    CC:          
    Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43
     
    Senator Dan Stec, NY-45
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
     
    Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107
     
    Assemblyman Matt Simpson, NY-114

     

  • J-1 Visitor Exchange Program Health & Safety

    March 26, 2021

    The J-1 Visitor Exchange Program should be up and running again on April 1, 2021. The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, Warren County Economic Development Corporation, and our Warren and Washington County partners all have concerns over the lack of health guidance for these visitors. 
     
    Please see a letter below to our elected officials asking for their help in obtaining health and safety guidance from the CDC.
     
    March 26, 2021
     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
    Re: J-1 Exchange Visitor Program Health and Safety Guidance
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    We are pleased that the J-1Exchange Visitor Program will be reinstated on April 1, 2021. We need your help obtaining health and safety guidance from the CDC for our J-1 Exchange Visitors as we welcome these folks into our local businesses and our community.
     
    We need help with the following:
    • How long do we need to quarantine our J-1 Visitors?
    • What verification is needed to confirm if a J-1 Visitor has received a vaccine?
    • Is there testing to confirm that someone has received a vaccine?
    Thank you in advance for your help ensuring that our community will be safe and our J-1 Visitors have an enjoyable experience here in our beautiful region.
     
     
    Blessings,
     
    Chairman Samuel J Hall
    Washington County
    Board of Supervisors
    Chairwoman Rachel Seeber
    Warren County
    Board of Supervisors
    Gina Mintzer
    Executive Director
    Lake George
    Regional Chamber
    of Commerce & CVB
    Jim Siplon
    President and CEO
    Warren County
    Economic Development Corp.
    Michael Bittel
    President and CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

     

  • ARCC Advocacy - Help our Tax Preparers

    March 25, 2021
     
     
    As things are changing quickly in the world of tax filings this year, our tax preparers are caught in the cross fire. In turn, so many of our businesses are as well.  There is information regarding taxes coming out in blogs, through organizations, etc. The one place that our tax preparers need a final solid answer from is the New York State Department of Taxation website. 
     
    Please see below a letter to the Governor from the ARCC asking for clarity on three specific areas regarding NYS taxes.
     
    Many thanks to Sarah Lindsell of Lindsell Business Financial Services for bringing this to our attention.

    March 25, 2021
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Re: Tax Preparers and ALL New Yorkers need help!
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    As we navigate these challenging times on a daily basis, one area that needs more clarity from New York State is clear and concise information from our NYS Tax Department. We urge immediate action on the following issues:
     
    • A definite statement that NYS is or is not excluding the initial $10,200 of unemployment from taxable income
    • Update Form IT-558 immediately to allow for the addback of the unemployment income or a statement informing preparers of an approach acceptable to the NYS Tax Department
    • Extend all forms of NYS tax returns past April 15; trust returns, corporate returns, and first quarter tax estimates
     
    While this lack of clarity effects all of our CPAs and tax preparers across New York, in turn it effects every single tax payer in our great state.
     
    Thank you much for your help and consideration. I can be reached at 518-798-1761.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO

     

  • No New Taxes for New Yorkers

    March 22, 2021

    Your ARCC is asking Governor Cuomo, Senator Stewart-Cousins, and Assemblymember Heastie to call for no new taxes in the New York State 2021-22 budget. This is a follow up from our September 14, 2020 call for no new taxes in the 2021-22 budget.
     
    Please see below letter to our State elected officials.
     
    As the 2021-22 budget is being discussed and decided by April 1, 2021 we urge you to reach out to our elected officials to ask for no new taxes. Please send an email or call using the below information:
     
    Governor Andrew Cuomo
    518.474.8390
     
    Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    518.426.6811 or 518.426.6844
     
    Assemblymember Carl Heastie
    518.455.3791
     
    Senator Daphne Jordan
    518.371.2751 or 518.455.2381
     
    Senator Dan Stec
    518.743.0968 or 518.455.2811
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
     
    Assemblyman Jake Ashby
     
    Assemblyman Matt Simpson

    March 22, 2021
     
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    The Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    188 State Street
    Legislative Office Building, Room 907
    Albany, NY 12247
     
    The Honorable Carl E. Heastie
    Legislative Office Building 932
    Albany, NY 12248
     
    Re: We Can’t Afford New Taxes
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo, Senator Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Heastie,
     
    Thank you much for all you are doing to help New Yorkers through these difficult times. We are all in this together and we will all come through this stronger than ever.
     
    On September 14, 2020, the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce called for no new taxes in the upcoming 2021- 2022 budget. Now more than ever our residents, small businesses, sole proprietors and individual contractors cannot afford any new taxes after what they have been through in the past year. As you know, so many of our neighbors and our local businesses have been hit hard during these times. Any added costs, including higher taxes, would certainly hurt our business community and our economy drastically.
     
    Eighty-four percent of our 700 plus members are made up of 20 employees or less. These small businesses are the backbone of the Adirondacks and the North Country. Each of these business owners, despite most being closed for extended periods of time, still took care of their employees and their greater community. Many business owners depleted their savings, took pay cuts or no pay at all.
     
    Please reconsider any and all tax increases. We hope those increases being proposed for individual rate tax increases, capital gains surcharges, business tax surcharges, capital base tax, etc. will be withheld from the upcoming NY 2021-2022 State Budget.
     
    Thank you much for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me directly at 518-798-1761 if I can answer any further questions.
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
     
    CC:
    Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43
     
    Senator Dan Stec, NY-45
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
     
    Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107
     
    Assemblyman Matt Simpson, NY-114

     

  • Oppose Proposed Changes to MSA Definition by OMB

    March 19, 2021

    The Warren County EDC and the ARCC have partnered in urging our Federal elected officials in supporting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) maintaining its current status as a MSA. We feel it is important that our area maintain this Federal designation.
     
    Please see below letter to our Federal elected officials.
     

    March 19, 2021
     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510
     
     
    The Honorable Kristen Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington, D.C. 20510
     
     
    The Honorable Elise Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510
     
     
    Re: Oppose Proposed Changes to MSA Definition by OMB
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik:
     
    Recent proposed changes to the Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA, definition by the Office of Management and Budget have significant negative potential impacts to Glens Falls, Warren and Washington County and indeed several other New York communities and we ask that they not be adopted without further study.
     
    At a time where our economic recovery from pandemic literally requires unprecedented intervention and support, changing the way the Federal Funds and eligibility are determined with no clear impact analysis is both flawed and counterproductive. Significant questions remain on the impact to healthcare reimbursement, housing and transportation fund access, recovery related funding and support eligibility, labor rate recalculation on approved by unfinished public projects and business relocation and onshoring efforts among many others. Business large and small as well as our entire community stands to be adversely affected by this effort.
     
    Please work with the elected leaders of the more than 140 other communities across the country that face redesignation concerns to suspend any adoption of this proposed redefinition until full impacts and solutions can be addressed proactively. We stand in a precarious time and need to work together to ensure the needs of our community and many others like it take precedence over an academic redesignation that has not fully studied, defined and addressed the scores of potential impacts of this ill-timed proposal. We would welcome the opportunity to provide greater input on this matter by contacting either of our offices directly.
     
     
     
    Respectfully,
     
    Jim Siplon Michael Bittel
    President & CEO President & CEO

    Economic Development Corporation Warren County

    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

     

     
  • Extend Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) March 31, 2021 Deadline

    March 12, 2021

    This past Wednesday, March 10, 2021, your ARCC spoke with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik regarding the need to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) deadline from March 31, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The very next day the Congresswoman helped introduce a bill addressing this much needed extension. Please see letter below.


    March 12, 2021
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
    Dear Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    Thank you much for taking my call this past Wednesday March 10 re: extending the PPP March 31, 2021 deadline to June 30, 2021. The very next day, Thursday March 11, you helped introduce a bill with Congresswoman Malliotakis (NY-11) in the House of Representatives to extend the PPP deadline to June 30, 2021.
     
    It is important that we take action quickly to ensure our businesses have the best chance of survival during these difficult times. On behalf of the entire business community, thank you much for listening to the business community and for your quick action on addressing this important issue!
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO

     

  • Broadband Expansion in our Region

    March 10, 2021

    Governor Cuomo introduced in his 2021 budget some Broadband “fixes” to continue to expand coverage throughout New York State. We believe the additional below suggestions from the ARCC would be helpful in overcoming challenges of Broadband expansion in our region.


    March 9, 2021
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    Thank you much for all of your work on expanding Broadband in our beautiful Warren/Washington County region. Broadband is vital on so many fronts to our rural communities. Home businesses (including farms), online schooling and telehealth rely heavily on robust and high functioning Broadband. Despite the best efforts of many we still have a long way to go in our region to expand Broadband to a high percentage of our fellow citizens.
     
    We would like to suggest the following issues be addressed as you plan for the upcoming budget:
    1. We need accurate mapping of our region of who has Broadband and who does not.  The FCC mapping does not properly account for Broadband accessibility, especially in rural areas.
    2. We recommend a DOT Fee moratorium.  This fee is used to perform surveys of the poles and immediate surrounding areas.  We recommend that these surveys be performed and all expenses incurred by the private Broadband companies.
    3. We recommend property taxes on Broadband entities to be determined based on gross revenue receipts per mile. Currently private Broadband entities are charged property taxes based on construction costs of installing Broadband infrastructure.    
     
    Thank you much for your consideration to these recommendations.  Please feel free to call on me anytime for any further clarity or questions you may have.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
     
    CC:                             Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43
                                       Senator Dan Stec, NY-45
                                       Assemblyman Matt Simpson, NY-114
                                       Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
                                       Assemblyman Jake Ashby, NY-107

     

  • The Adirondack Regional Chamber 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. 

  • Reinstate J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

    February 9, 2021

    The below message was sent, on behalf of our business community, to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Stefanik regarding the reinstatement of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. Your ARCC has been advocating on behalf of our members on this issue since September 2020.

     

    February 9, 2021

    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

    322 Hart Senate Office Building

    Washington DC 20510

     

    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

    478 Russell

    Washington DC 20510

     

    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik

    318 Cannon Office Building

    Washington DC 20515

     

    Re: Reinstate J-1 Exchange Visitor Program

    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,

    We hope that you will support the reinstatement of the J-1 Exchange Visitor program as soon as possible. Your voice and support is crucial in asking President Biden to rescind Presidential Proclamation 10052. Although this proclamation is set to expire on March 31, 2021, the sooner this is rescinded and the J-1 program is open, the sooner our area businesses can plan on the much needed J-1 program for our heavy summer tourist season.

    Our community also asks for your help in obtaining clarity from the CDC in advance of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program reopening. Our businesses need health and safety guidance to follow in preparation to welcoming these J-1 guests. Our community leaders want to do the right thing, we need final guidance on what those protocols and procedures are for this year.

    Thank you much for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions or need further clarity on the matter, please feel free to call me at 518-798-1761.

    Blessings,

     

    Michael Bittel

    President/CEO


     

  • Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Package - Support for Small Businesses

    The Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Package was passed by Congress yesterday. Many thanks to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Stefanik, and their staffs, for working directly with us throughout this past weekend. Your ARCC was pleased to advocate for additional PPP, Save our Stages, hospital funding, and many other issues relevant to our greater community.

     

    Please see below a detailed breakdown, provided by Congresswoman Stefanik, of the Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Package as it applies to our business community.

    Among the numerous provisions included in the bill, I specifically wanted to highlight some of the economic relief this bill will provided to you as small businesses.

     

    This legislation will include $325 billion for small businesses, extending the Paycheck Protection Program and allowing small businesses to deduct expenses. Please see the information below for more details:

     

    Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

    • $284.5 billion for PPP while providing a second round of PPP loans for the hardest-hit small businesses, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-ops.
    • To be eligible for the second PPP draw down, a business must:
    • Have less than 300 employees and prove that they have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP.
    • Demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter. Provides applicable timelines for businesses that were not in operation in Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 of 2019. Applications submitted on or after January 1, 2021 are eligible to utilize the gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020.
    • The maximum loan amount for a second drawn PPP will be reduced to $2 million.
    • PPP loan terms remain largely similar to those enacted under the CARES Act and in general may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5X the average monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan or the calendar year. No loan can be greater than $2 million and must meet the following requirements:
    • Seasonal employers may calculate their maximum loan amount based on a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019 through February 15, 2020.
    • Businesses with multiple locations that are eligible entities under the initial PPP requirements may employ not more than 300 employees per physical location.
    • Waiver of affiliation rules that applied during initial PPP loans apply to a second loan.
    • An eligible entity may only receive one PPP second draw loan.
    • Fees are waived for both borrowers and lenders to encourage participation.
    • Makes 501(c)(6) organizations, including local Chambers and destination marketing organizations, housing cooperatives, newspapers, broadcasters, and radio stations eligible for PPP
    • Expands the following expenses allowable and forgivable uses for PPP:
    • Payment for any software, cloud computing, and other human resources and accounting needs; costs related to property damage due to public disturbances not covered by insurance; PPE and adaptive investments to help a loan recipient comply with federal health and safety guidelines or any equivalent State and local guidance related to COVID-19 during the period between March 1, 2020, and the end of the national emergency declaration.
    • Creates a simplified PPP loan forgiveness application for loans under $150,000
    • To be eligible for this provision, the borrower will need to sign and submit a one-page certification that lists the loan amount, the number of employees retained, and the estimated total amount of the loan spent on payroll costs.
    • The borrower must also attest that they accurately provided the required certification and complied with PPP loan requirements.
    • The SBA must establish this form within 24 days of enactment and may not require additional materials unless necessary to substantiate revenue loss requirements.
    • Additionally, borrowers are required to retain relevant records related to employment for four years and other records for three years. The Administrator may review and audit these loans.
    • $15 billion for live venues, movie theaters, and museums that are experiencing significant revenue loss, modeled after the Save our Stages legislation
    • Expansion to PPP calculations for restaurants (based on NAICS code 72) from 2.5x payroll to 3.5x payroll
    • Eligible expenses are also expanded to include supplier costs, perishable goods, PPE, and outdoor seating for restaurants

     

    Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance Program

    • $20 billion for new EIDL grants and extends the covered period through December 31, 2021
    • Creates a process for existing EIDL Advance grantees that received less than $10,000 dollars to reapply for the difference between what they received and the maximum EIDL Advance Grant of $10,000 dollars
    • Increases verification tools at the SBA to ensure accurate information is submitted on a grant application
    • Ensures borrowers will not have to deduct their EIDL Advance from their PPP loan forgiveness amount 

     

    7(a), 504, and Microloan Program Enhancements

    • Supplies $2 billion dollars to enhance the SBA’s existing government guarantee loan programs, including the 7(a) Loan Program, the 504 Loan Program, and the Microloan Program
    • Waives borrower and lender fees within the 7(a) and 504 loan programs
    • Increases the 7(a) loan guarantee to 90%
    • Extends the $1 million dollar loan limit for SBA Express Loans
    • Establishes a 504 Express Loan Program
    • Enhances the Microloan program in order to provide financial and technical assistance to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Video: ARCC Conversation with Congresswoman Stefanik - December 9, 2020 Video: ARCC Conversation with Congresswoman Stefanik - December 9, 2020

    December 9, 2020

    On December 9, 2020 your ARCC hosted a virtual conversation with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik where we were provided updates that affect businesses in our region.

     

    Thank you to Hilltop Construction Co. for sponsoring this event, and Storedtech for running the event. We are also grateful to Jesse Jackson and his team at Look Media for recording and providing a video of the discussion.

     

    Please click here to view this video.

  • Additional Federal Stimulus Package Needed - November 2020 Additional Federal Stimulus Package Needed - November 2020

    Additional Federal Stimulus Package Needed

    November 19, 2020
     
    Your ARCC is working with our Federal Elected Officials to immediately support a new round of Federal Stimulus. Please see correspondence below and please reach out to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Stefanik.
     
    Senator Charles E. Schumer Office
    Phone: (202) 224-6542
    Email Contact Form, click here
     
    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Office
    Phone: (202) 224-4451
    Email Contact Form, click here
     
    Congresswoman Elise Stefanik
    Phone: 518-743-0964 Glens Falls; 202-225-4611 Washington DC
    Email Contact Form, click here
     
    November 19, 2020
     
     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
     
    Re: Additional Federal Stimulus Package Needed
     
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
     
    As you know with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our region has been hit hard. Additional Federal relief is needed immediately on several fronts. Considering the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce represents a large portion of the business community in our area, and in turn our members care deeply about our greater community, we hope you will support and vote in Congress as soon as possible the following:
     
    • Additional PPP eligibility for our business community who continues to suffer with prolonged shutdowns and/or partial operations due to COVID-19
     
    • Direct Aid to K-12 Schools
     
    • Continued focus on supporting our Agriculture and food supply chain
     
    • Local Government Funding
     
    Thank you again for your attention and support to this matter. It was a pleasure speaking with each of your offices. Should you need further clarity or have questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to call me at 518-798-1761.
     
     
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce (ARCC)
  • 75% Capacity for Restaurants Letter to Governor Cuomo 75% Capacity for Restaurants Letter to Governor Cuomo

    Please see below a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to move the current 50% seating capacity level at restaurants to 75% seating capacity.

    Please help us by calling or writing the Governor's office and other State Elected Officials to support this much needed initiative.

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
    518.474.8390
    Click here for online contact form

    Senator Betty Little
    518.743.0968
    little@nysenate.gov

    Assemblyman Dan Stec
    518.792.4546
    StecD@nyassembly.gov

    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    518.584.5493
    woernerc@nyassembly.gov
     


    October 1, 2020
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    Our area restaurants (Saratoga, Washington, and Warren Counties) have done a fantastic job of exceeding expectations with Health and Safety Plans and action these past months during COVID-19 at 50% seating capacity. During a robust tourist season for our area, the data bears out that we kept our employees and guests safe. We need your help and support for our restaurants to immediately expand to 75% seating capacity. With much cooler weather coming, most of our restaurants will lose outside seating in the very near future.
     
    As you know, restaurants across the state directly and indirectly employ over one million fellow New Yorkers. These folks come from some of the most diverse social and economic backgrounds of any employer in the State. Restaurants employ people who supplement their retirement, young adults trying to earn money to go to school and everyday New Yorkers trying to make ends meet. We have lost over 244,000 New York restaurant workers to unemployment over the past six months. Let’s get them back to work.
     
    With the loss of outdoor seating, and in turn seating capacity as a whole, expenses will rise for our restaurants. Most of our area restaurants are family-owned or chef owned. These small businesses cannot afford to take on less revenue while maintaining extra expenses due to COVID-19.
     
    Thank you much for your attention to this matter. We hope you will join us in saving our restaurants and the dreams of so many small family-owned businesses and their employees. Please feel free to call me with any questions or further clarity. My phone is 518-798-1761.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
     
    CC:      Senator Betty Little, NY-45
                Assemblyman Dan Stec, NY-114
                Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
                Washington County Chairman, Board of Supervisors, Samuel J. Hall
                Warren County Chairman, Board of Supervisors, Frank Thomas
                Warren County Administrator, Ryan Moore
                Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke

  • Reinstate J-1 Exchange Visitor Program - September 2020 Reinstate J-1 Exchange Visitor Program - September 2020

    September 16, 2020

    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
     
    Re: Reinstate J-1 Exchange Visitor Program
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    The J-1 Exchange Visitor Program needs to be reinstated as soon as possible. Domestic families, our business community and our public diplomacy with so many foreign nations suffered due to the cancellation of this program in 2020. We ask that Congress reinstate this beneficial J-1 Exchange Visitor Program so that we can all plan ahead for next year.  Knowing that this program would be reinstated by January of 2021 would allow our businesses to plan for staffing needs but also accommodate health and safety measures proactively.
     
    There is a joy associated with hosting J-1 Exchange Visitors with our hundreds of sponsors in New York.  These visitors have a chance to experience American culture with their host families, working in seasonal jobs and/or furthering a partnership in education. Our Warren and Washington County area also relies on these visitors to help us through our robust tourism and hospitality season. With the cancellation of this wonderful program this year, many of our local businesses suffered by not having enough employees on hand.
     
    Thank you much for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions or need further clarity on the matter, please feel free to call us at 518-798-1761.

    Blessings,

     

    Supervisor Frank Thomas
    Warren County Chairman
    of the Board of Supervisors
    Supervisor Samuel J. Hall
    Washington County Chairman   
    of the Board of Supervisors
     
    Ms. Gina Mintzer
    Executive Director
    Lake George Regional
    Chamber of Commerce & CVB
    Mr. Jim Siplon
    President
    Warren County Economic
    Development Corporation
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional
    Chamber of Commerce
  • Save our Stages Act - September 2020 Save our Stages Act - September 2020

    September 15, 2020

    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
     
    Re: “Save our Stages Act” or “SOS Act”, S.4258 and H.R.7806
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    Many thanks to each of you for signing on as co-sponsors for the “Save our Stages Act”, S.4258 and H.R.7806. Passage of this bill would give monetary relief and support to so many of our venues still closed due to limits on gathering sizes.
     
    As you know, many of our sports and entertainment venues have a profound effect on our greater economy. When folks attend these venues, they also shop and eat nearby, prior to and after events. These venues also employ a great number of local residents. While these venues cannot open now, we need to ensure that we keep them viable and sustainable. When gathering restrictions are lifted, it is important that these venues can still be operational. We look forward to the day these venues reopen, and our fellow citizens enjoy the events these venues provide.
     
    Thank you again for your attention and support to this matter. It was a pleasure speaking with each of your offices. Should you need further clarity or have questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to call me at 518-798-1761.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • No Tax Increase Letter to Governor Cuomo - September 2020 No Tax Increase Letter to Governor Cuomo - September 2020

    September 14, 2020
     
     
    Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Re: Tax Revenue shortfalls in New York, No New Taxes
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    We all understand that there is a continued shortfall in tax revenue due to the current difficult COVID-19 environment. We hope that other means to meet recent budget shortfalls can be attained without raising any taxes. We believe that budget obligations could be attained by focusing on short term priorities, defining those priorities, and cutting and/or deferring programs and obligations that don’t meet those priorities.
     
    Thank you for your leadership through these difficult times. As you know, so many of our neighbors and our local businesses have been hit hard during these times. Any added costs, including higher taxes, would certainly hurt our business community and our economy drastically.
     
    We are #NYStrong. We will get through this together. Thank you much for taking into consideration that we need our small business community to be strong and viable, not just today but for years to come.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
    President/CEO
     
     
    Cc:      Senator Betty Little, NY-45
                Senator Daphne Jordan, NY-43
                Assemblyman Dan Stec, NY-114
       Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
  • Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Immediate Funding Relief for Gyms & Bowling Alleys Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Immediate Funding Relief for Gyms & Bowling Alleys

    Friday, August 14, 2020

    As we know gyms and bowling alleys are not allowed to open per Executive Order due to COVID-19. Since these businesses are not allowed to open, we at the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce (ARCC) believe they need funding relief immediately. Please see letter from the ARCC to Governor Cuomo below.


    August 14, 2020
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    As you know, many businesses across New York State are not able to open due to COVID-19. Those businesses include gyms, bowling alleys and other like entities. These hard-working and community centered businesses need your help immediately with New York State funding relief to help them through these times of closure.
     
    Gyms and bowling alleys want to open and help the public with exercise, mental health boosters, etc. These businesses cannot pivot to other services or products due to the nature of their offerings. Please help us support these businesses with funding relief to get them through these tough times until they are allowed to reopen.
     
    Thank you much for your attention to this matter. I can be contacted at 518-798-1761 to answer any questions or for further clarity.
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
     
    Cc:         Senator Betty Little, NY-45
                   Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
                   Assemblyman Dan Stec, NY-114
  • Letter to Governor Cuomo - Extend Awarded Grant Deadlines in 2020 Letter to Governor Cuomo - Extend Awarded Grant Deadlines in 2020

    July 23, 2020
     
     
    The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NY State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
     
    Our fellow citizens need your support in extending current awarded NY State Grant funding program deadlines for 2020.
     
    Many grants have deadlines throughout 2020 that currently cannot be met due to COVID-19. As many businesses who received grants for 2020 were closed for several months this year, these businesses are now working toward fulfilling the work associated with these grants. The challenge is many construction companies and their sub-contractors are far behind schedule trying to catch up with all the work they have before them.
     
    We hope you will join the greater business community in support of extending these grant deadlines as long as the business awarded the grant still utilizes the money as intended.
     
    Thank you much for your attention to this matter.
     
    Should you have any questions or need further information please feel free to call me at 518-798-1761.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
     
    Cc: Senator Betty Little, NY-45
    Assemblyman Dan Stec, NY-114
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113

  • Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds set aside for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) presently held for review by the NYS Department of Budget Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds set aside for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) presently held for review by the NYS Department of Budget

    NY State is currently holding up Federal dollars that should be released immediately for our Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Please see letter and explanation of the Program below. If you as an employer have any interest or questions about SYEP, please reach out to us and we will connect you with our local Employment Training office.
     
    Many thanks to Warren County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Frank Thomas and Washington County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Sam Hall for co-signing the letter with your ARCC. And a wonderful shoutout to Liza Ochsendorf, from Warren County Employment and Training, for her drive to educate me on the program.
     
    We are in this together.
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President & CEO

    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce


    June 23, 2020
     
    Senator Betty Little
    5 Warren Street, Suite 3
    Glens Falls, NY 12801
     
    Assemblyman Dan Stec
    140 Glen Street
    Glens Falls, NY 12801
     
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    112 Spring Street, Suite 205
    Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
     
    We are requesting your advocacy and support for the immediate release of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds set aside for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) presently held for review by the NYS Department of Budget.  New York State has yet to release $44 million dollars in Federal TANF funds throughout our state.
     
    In our tri-county workforce area of Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties, the 3 career centers use the funds to pay wages and supportive services for our area's low-income youth to be employed for the summer at local not for profits and municipalities. Our local career centers are at the ready to engage young adults in real work experience, right now.  Here are some facts associated with our summer 2019 program:
    1. A total of 174 youth were served during the summer of 2019. None will be served in 2020 if funding is not immediately released.
    2. 91 local employers were able to introduce the world of work to the youth of our area in 2019 by offering work experiences to local youth through this funding.
    3. A total of $506,712 was available in 2019 to support wages and services to youth as employers helped them build workforce skills to ensure a solid workforce in the future. Not allowing the release of the funds will eliminate the positive impact on both the youth of our area as well as our area communities.
     
    Without funding, some youth will not have the opportunity to build work skills and knowledge due to multiple barriers including disabilities, lack of transportation, no prior experience, anxiety or lack of available jobs. For many families the SYEP Program is a crucial additional source of income as it enhances their ability to secure needed items like new school clothes or have desired personal items like a phone, a bike or a car. It is also important to note that the quarantine, due to COVID-19, has exacerbated these issues as significant numbers of families have seen members out of work.
    Thank you in advance for your support and advocacy for the youth in our communities.
     
     
    Frank Thomas
    Chairman
    Warren County
    Board of Supervisors
     
    Sam Hall
    Chairman
    Washington County
    Board of Supervisors
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional
    Chamber of Commerce
  • Glens Falls Hospital Receives $13,000,000 in Federal Funding Glens Falls Hospital Receives $13,000,000 in Federal Funding

    June 12, 2020

     

    We would like to thank Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and her efforts to acquire more Federal funding for the Glens Falls Hospital. We petitioned our Federal Elected Officials on May 8, 2020 to support our Glens Falls Hospital for more Federal funding (please click here for letter to our elected officials).

     

    STEFANIK ANNOUNCES NEW $13 MILLION DISBURSEMENT FOR GLENS FALLS HOSPITAL

    June 12, 2020 Press Release

    Glens Falls, NY – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik announced that Glens Falls Hospital is receiving a new $13 million disbursement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.) This is part of a $10 billion allocation of Provider Relief Funds for safety net hospitals that serve vulnerable populations.

    “I have been a chief advocate for increased funding for our North Country hospitals that serve many seniors – the most vulnerable population to COVID-19,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I’m grateful that this critical funding will go directly to Glens Falls Hospital, welcome news for both the hardworking hospital staff and the population they serve. I will continue to work directly with hospitals, health departments, and struggling families to deliver much-need relief and results for my constituents.”

  • ARCC Oral Testimony to the NY State Assembly Small Business Committee ARCC Oral Testimony to the NY State Assembly Small Business Committee

    une 15, 2020

     

    Many thanks to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner for having ARCC President Michael Bittel as a “witness” to the NY State Assembly Small Business Committee yesterday, June, 15, 2020. The Committee wanted feedback on how COVID-19 has affected our small business community.

    You know we couldn’t pass that one up! We were limited to five minutes and then Q&A. Please see below a transcript of what I discussed during my time.


    6-15-2020                                                                                                                                  

    Notes for Michael Bittel speaking to NY State Assembly on Small Businesses Committee

    Hello from the beautiful Southern Adirondacks. Thank you much to Chairman Albert Stirpe for having me here today.  Greetings as well to all members of the committee and to my Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner who is a huge advocate for small business in our region and a pleasure to work with. Chairman Stirpe, thank you for representing many of my family members who reside in the Town of Clay, including one of the greatest heroes in my life, my Grandfather and World War II US Navy Veteran Dino Paschetto.

    The Paycheck Protection Program and other Federal programs like the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Fund have helped many of our businesses of all sizes weather challenges over the past couple of months. The PPP application process is relatively easy and PPP is a prime example of a successful partnership of government and private sector banks helping businesses. Our major concern is that the economy is not going to “snap” back as quickly as any of us would like. With that being said, many companies who had plans for construction expansion, new product lines, etc. are holding off, often into 2021. We at the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce are concerned that many small businesses will still be hurting financially and employee count wise throughout 2020.

    Here are four exact issues that would help small business through the expected continued challenging times ahead:

    1)     Unemployment Insurance: Many small businesses have been hit hard and will be hit hard with Unemployment Insurance rates for 2020 which will be paid in 2021. New York State has paid 10.2 Billion dollars so far this year in UI, while 2.1 Billion dollars were paid out in UI all of last year. As 2020 UI rates and charges to small businesses will be accrued and brought to bear on our small business employers in 2021, we need to help our small businesses with UI relief payments and to delay the first small business UI payment in April 2021 to later in 2021. Cash flow is and will be a challenge to our small businesses during the coming months and well into 2021.

    2)     Our small business community needs grace on laws that were supposed to take effect in 2020. As an example, while our small business community agrees that The Shield Act is a good measure to keep data and information safe from hackers, the implementation date of March 2020 was right in the heart of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our small businesses need breathing room to implement and spend money on making sure that they adhere to The Shield Act. Moving the final implementation date to December 31, 2020 would help our struggling small businesses now. Please help us extend the timeline on The Shield Act and other regulations and demands to our small businesses during these tough times.

    3)     Please give accommodation to grants that were given to our small business community. Our small businesses need promised grants more than ever.  We also need help with grant deadlines, for example if a grant needed to be utilized over the past several months, an extension to the small business is needed as long as the small business still uses the grant as agreed to. If someone was using a grant for expansion of their business in the form of new construction or rehab, often construction was ceased if non-essential the past two plus months. And while construction has been allowed to restart, many construction companies are backed up with work and need to catch up. This makes it hard for many small businesses to utilize their grant in a timely fashion.

    4)     Agency help and service to our small businesses. We ask that agencies at all levels of government: Federal, State and Local, help our small businesses during this time. We hope that the first visit and/or call from an agency to a small business owner would be one of collaboration. All of our small businesses are trying to do the right thing. Please have our agencies serve, collaborate and point out what the business may need to correct. The agency should help work with and direct the small business on how to correct the issue. Small business cannot afford to be fined on a first visit from an agency and they certainly cannot afford to hire outside consultants to help them overcome challenges and corrective measures brought forth by our government agencies.  

     

    Thank you again for the opportunity to speak and for your time and attention to the backbone of our New York State economy, our small business community. It has been a pleasure working with, advocating for and most importantly serving our small business community along with chambers across our great state in concert with our elected officials at all levels of government. Thank you and God Bless.

  • May 27, 2020 Letter to Our Federal Elected Officials: Please Support Paycheck Protection Program Expansion of Period Eligibility May 27, 2020 Letter to Our Federal Elected Officials: Please Support Paycheck Protection Program Expansion of Period Eligibility

    Letter to Our Federal Elected Officials: Please Support Paycheck Protection Program Expansion of Period Eligibility

     

    Please see a letter below from the ARCC to our Federal elected officials to support Paycheck Protection Program expansion of period eligibility from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. 

     

    May 27, 2020
     
     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
     
    Re: Paycheck Protection Program Expansion of Period Eligibility
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    Many of our businesses in the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce region need your support to expand the period of eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. 
     
    Several of our members are seasonal and start their businesses and hire employees later in the year and are not able to fully utilize the PPP funds prior to June 30, 2020. These businesses include hospitality, tourism, construction and more. These folks have certainly all been affected by the recent and continued phased in approach of business re-openings in our region.
     
    Please do not hesitate to call me at 518-798-1761 if I can offer more information or assistance.
     
    Thank you much for your consideration.
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President & CEO

    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

  • Letter to Dr. Malatras - PLEASE REOPEN OUR REGION FOR BUSINESS Letter to Dr. Malatras - PLEASE REOPEN OUR REGION FOR BUSINESS

    Letter to Dr. Malatras - PLEASE REOPEN OUR REGION FOR BUSINESS

    Please see below a letter that we penned today to one of Governor Cuomo’s chief associates, Dr. Malatras. Dr. Malatras is intimately involved as a representative of the Governor with Reopening Regions for business.
     
    Your ARCC is involved and advocating 24/7 for our businesses and our region to our government agencies at all levels and elected officials at the local, state and Federal level.  Many thanks to our businesses for all your input, support for our community and grit through this situation. Many thanks to so many local, state and Federal elected and government officials who are fighting for us and with us to open up now.
     
    The time is NOW to reopen our doors!  As noted below in my letter, I have the utmost faith in our business community to do the right thing and keep our employees and customers safe and healthy.

    Please respond to this email if you have any feedback you would like me to pass along to Dr. Malatras.
     
    We are in this together!!
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

     
    May 16, 2020
     
    Dr. Jim Malatras
    Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
    Via email
     
    Dear Dr. Malatras,
     
    I am writing today on behalf of the 773 members of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Our main footprint is Warren, Washington, Southern Essex and Northern Saratoga Counties.  Our businesses are diverse in nature from manufacturing, non-profits, financial, tourism, and so many other small businesses which make up the back bone of our region.  ALL of our members are hurting, and more importantly their employees and families are hurting, because of the current state of affairs and the fact that we are not allowed to open for business.
     
    I pen this letter today to you as you are a vital part of the Governor’s Control Room Team to reopen the Capital Region, which our footprint is a part.  We have worked hard with our business community, other EDCs and chambers, to plan for a reopening and ensure that our employees and guest/customers will be safe.  The care and passion that our business owners have for all is second to none.  In concert with NY State health guidelines, CDC guidelines and industry and local guidelines, OUR BUSINESSES ARE READY TO OPEN NOW.  In a past life, one of my duties was head of Food Safety at the King Arthur Flour Company.  The standards that our business community has set for health and safety are second to none, and I can say that based on my years of experience at King Arthur Flour.
     
    We have worked hard with our partners at all levels of government and elected officials (Federal, State and Local) to ensure that our businesses will meet or exceed all standards set by the government for health and safety.  Please see a link for the 113 page “Warren County Partnership for Recovery” 
    https://chambermaster.blob.core.windows.net/userfiles/UserFiles/chambers/1842/CMS/WCPfR-TOC-FINAL.pdf  report where we included all facets of business and experts in each field to participate and execute in a re-opening plan, doing so in concert with local elected officials.  OUR BUSINESSES ARE READY TO OPEN NOW. 
    Our community has worked extremely hard and well with our health care providers and our non-profits through this difficult time.  I am amazed, but not surprised, at the way those in our region have rushed to the table to help each other.  Both our healthcare providers and non-profits are struggling in regards to dollars because of our business closures. 
     
    Our healthcare providers are second to none.  Which is part of the reason why we are confused as to why we are not open for business.  Glens Falls Hospital has 5 COVID-19 patients as of Friday May 15, 2020.  GFH vastly exceeds number of beds needed, doctor and nurse availability and all other health emergency and preparation metrics.  Our concern is that the current 7-point matrix is possibly being held back using old/dated data.   If we had number of deaths or hospitalizations from weeks ago holding us back, how does that apply to today?  Having a low number to strive for in hospitalizations is not fair to our region as we continue to have lower and lower numbers each day.  If we have five hospitalizations and that number unfortunately goes to 6, is it fair to say with a low number such as this that we increased 20%?  Not at all.  Are we being penalized in the numbers for being good neighbors and taking people in from outside the region to care for, yet those hospitalizations are in our region’s numbers? We hope not.
     
    Large box stores are open, yet the “Mom and Pops” stores, the backbone of our community, are closed.  Beaches are going to be open, but not the small businesses who provide the livelihood for so many in our region.
     
    Dr. Malatras, please help us OPEN FOR BUSINESS NOW.  I can assure you that our region is prepared, passionate, and poised to reopen and do it safely.  Our healthcare providers are prepared, our community needs to go to work and I assure you our employers always will do their best to keep their employees and customers safe and happy.
     
    Please feel free to contact me anytime for more information and/or clarity on what I have written above.
     
    We just have one ask, help us because OUR BUSINESSES ARE READY TO OPEN NOW. 
     
    (While I will be sending this to you via email and sharing this with our members and elected officials, I will not share your personal email address.  Should our members have further comments I will be sure to pass them through me to you and not give out your personal email address sir). 
     
    Blessings,
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
     
    Cc:         Senator Betty Little, NY-45
                   Assemblyman Dan Stec, NY-114
                   Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, NY-113
                   Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke
                   Ryan Moore, Warren County Administrator
  • ACTION NEEDED: Please support Glens Falls Hospital ACTION NEEDED: Please support Glens Falls Hospital

    ACTION NEEDED: Please support Glens Falls Hospital

    Glens Falls Hospital did not receive any Federal funding from the latest Stimulus Package round of funding that was supposed to target rural hospitals.

    Please see below a letter from your ARCC to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik requesting their help for funding. We need your voice in contacting our representatives for their help in supporting the Glens Falls Hospital. Please call or write our representatives with the contact info below. Please feel free to forward all or part of the letter below.

    Senator Schumer
    518-431-4070
     
    Senator Gillibrand
    518-431-0120
     
    Congresswoman Stefanik
    518-743-0964

     


    May 8, 2020

     

    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

    322 Hart Senate Office Building

    Washington DC 20510

     

    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

    478 Russell

    Washington DC 20510

     

    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik

    318 Cannon Office Building

    Washington DC 20515

     

    Re: Federal Funding Needed Immediately for Glens Falls Hospital

     

    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,

    On behalf of the Board of Directors and the 772 members of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, it is with a heavy heart and alarm hearing the news that Glens Falls Hospital did not receive any Federal funding from the latest Stimulus Package round of funding that was supposed to target rural hospitals.

    Please help us fight for our local Glens Falls Hospital to receive much needed Federal funding immediately. We need your support and leadership to save our community’s Glens Falls Hospital.

    The Glens Falls Hospital has been a leader in our region prior to and throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The Hospital has set up and helped develop a testing center in partnership with Warren County, converted anesthesia machines to ventilators, taken COVID-19 patients from outside the region and utilized UVC light robots to extend the life of much needed N95 masks. The Hospital has invested $5 million dollars in COVID-19 preparations.

    The Glens Falls Hospital has, prior to this COVID-19 crisis, been taking severe financial losses due to a unique large majority payor mix which is heavily Medicaid and Medicare funded, which vastly underpays versus private insurance payments. This is beyond the control of the Hospital and is totally dependent on the population demographics in our region. In January – March 2020 alone, the Glens Falls Hospital has suffered $10,600,000 in operating losses. Due to the recent ban on elective surgery, the Glens Falls Hospital has lost another $27,000,000 in profitable revenue.

    Our region cannot afford to be without Glens Falls Hospital to take care of the healthcare and hospital needs of our citizens. Please help us ensure that Glens Falls Hospital not only is here for us today, but for many years to come.

    I can personally be reached to further discuss the perils of this situation to our community and can provide any further clarity or information you may need. My personal cell phone number is 518-368-1477.

    Thank you in advance for your attention, your much-needed support and leadership on this issue. 

     

    Blessings,

     

     

    Michael Bittel

    President/CEO

    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

  • April 29, 2020 Request for Federal Funding for our Rural Counties, Towns and Villages April 29, 2020 Request for Federal Funding for our Rural Counties, Towns and Villages

    Request for Federal Funding for our Rural Counties, Towns and Villages

    April 29, 2020
     

    Request for Federal Funding for our Rural Counties, Towns and Villages

    Please find a letter below to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik requesting Federal Funding for our Rural Counties, Towns and Villages in our region. The letter was crafted and signed in partnership between the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce and the EDC of Warren County.
     
    April 29, 2020
     
     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
    Re: Immediate Funding Needed for Rural Counties, Towns and Villages
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    As Congress convenes to discuss and pass a fourth stimulus package, we at the Warren County EDC and Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce hope that you will pass immediate funding for our rural counties, towns and villages. 
     
    The impact that COVID-19 has had on our local sales tax revenue and upcoming cuts from New York State will hurt those most vulnerable in our rural communities.  Without immediate Federal funding to our local level to make up for these shortfalls, the most vulnerable in our communities will suffer; our children, the elderly, those with mental health needs and those who are income insecure.  Also effected will be our frontline safety and emergency infrastructure of our police, fire and EMTs.
     
    Thank you for your consideration to address this immediate and vital need to our region.
     
    Please feel free to call on us, phone numbers below, if we can be of further assistance or offer more clarity on this important matter.
     
    Blessings,
    Ed Bartholomew Michael Bittel
    President President/CEO
    Warren County Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
    Economic Development Corp. 518-368-1477
    518-761-6007  
  • April 24, 2020 Letter to NYS Department of Labor re: New York State Dislocated Worker Grants April 24, 2020 Letter to NYS Department of Labor re: New York State Dislocated Worker Grants

    Letter to NYS Department of Labor re: New York State Dislocated Worker Grants

    April 24, 2020

    Your Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Warren County Board of Supervisors, the Warren County EDC, SUNY Adirondack and the Warren County Employment and Training Administration to proactively plan on the re-opening of our local economy. Part of this plan centers around making sure that we have the ability and funding to train and develop our workforce as our economy changes and evolves in our region in the short and long term due to COVID19. Please see below a letter that we sent out, with our partners, to the New York State Department of Labor requesting funding as part of our plan.
     
    This is funding that we anticipate being discussed in Washington DC and then applied to the states in the coming months.
     
    April 24, 2020
     
    Mr. Russell Oliver, Director
    Division of Employment & Workforce Solutions
    New York State Department of Labor
    State Campus-Building 12, Room 428
    Albany, NY 12240
     
    Re: NY State Dislocated Worker Grants for Warren County, NY
     
     
    Dear Mr. Oliver,
     
    As representatives of the business, government, and workforce community of Warren County, we have come together to request your support in ensuring that our region receives adequate funding to support our local workforce in the short and long-term phases of economic recovery. More specifically, as your office determines which regions receive Dislocated Worker Grants and any subsequent funding, please take this into consideration.
     
    Our region is uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for the following reasons:
     
    1.  The tourism industry is more important to our economy than any other region in the state resulting in $1.5 billion in Adirondack tourist spending, with over $629 million in Warren County alone, and representing 15% of the local workforce ($360M labor income) and 42.3% of the region’s tourism tax base.
     
    1.  If the J1 Visa program is inactive due to travel restrictions then up to 1500 employees will need to be replaced and this is a challenge that businesses cannot afford financially and our local workforce may not be able to fill successfully.
     
    1.  Our adult learners in local educational and training programs were already under-resourced individuals prior to the pandemic with little to no financial aid available for short term training programs. SUNY Adirondack has a longstanding partnership with the Warren County One Stop Career Center and we will leverage this relationship to ensure that eligible individuals receive the support and guidance needed to move into courses and training programs as quickly and seamlessly as possible. With new funding, we can continue to build on our past success of training and educating thousands of students in the region, and preparing them with the skills and knowledge to be successful in our new economic reality.
     
    1.  During this current COVID 19 period we have observed that many diverse businesses large and small within Warren County have been acting as part of the supply chain to the diverse industry/manufacturing base not only within the County but beyond the County.  This recognition of diversity and networking provides an economic initiative for expanding or establishing new supply chain businesses thereby creating further employment opportunities for dislocated workers in our community/region. This workforce development effort with its collaborative resources ( SUNY Adirondack, BOCES and Warren County Employment/Training /NYSDOL ) would educate/train/retrain individuals for these positions while the economic development group of EDC of Warren County and the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce  would assist existing and new businesses in the transition/ adjustment for the expansion of the supply chain.
     
    We trust that you will take these factors into consideration as you determine which regions are most in need of financial support in the coming months and years of economic and workforce recovery. With the appropriate funding support for our local workforce, we will be more prepared as we work together to ensure a faster recovery.
     
    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    Frank Thomas
    Chairman
    Warren County, NY     
    Board of Supervisors   
     
    Ed Bartholomew
    President
    Warren County
    Economic Development Corp
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
     
    Kristine Duffy, Ed.D.
    President
    SUNY Adirondack
     
    Liza M. Ochsendorf
    Director of Employment & Training Administration
    Warren County
  • April 16, 2020 Support Financial Package to Address the Health and Economic Challenges due to COVID19 April 16, 2020 Support Financial Package to Address the Health and Economic Challenges due to COVID19

    Support Financial Package to Address the Health and Economic Challenges due to COVID19

    April 16, 2020
     
    In collaboration with the Warren County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Warren County, the below letter was sent to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Stefanik.
     
    We are in this together.
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    ARCC President & CEO

    April 16, 2020

     
    The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
    322 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
    478 Russell
    Washington DC 20510
     
    The Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
    318 Cannon Office Building
    Washington DC 20515
     
    Dear Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik,
     
    As representatives of the business community and greater community of Warren County, we have come together to request your support in one financial package to help address the health and economic challenges our citizens are facing due to COVID19.
     
    • The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) both need more funding immediately.  Both programs are currently underfunded and loans have ceased to thousands of businesses in New York State.  Our banks also need final guidance on loan forgiveness from the SBA for PPP.
    • The current Medicare formula needs to change as it applies to New York State visa vie the Federal Government. The current formula leaves New York State Hospitals short of Federal funds and reimbursements regarding treatment of COVID19 patients.  New York hospital reimbursements are well below other state’s hospital payments and reimbursement from the Federal Government.
    • Local Government will need more funding support from the Federal Government due to COVID19.  Tax revenues from all sources at the local level will be drastically reduced due to a long lasting economic slowdown.
    • Our region still requires a robust J1 Visa program once our businesses are allowed to reopen, especially for our area’s large tourism industry.
    Thank you much for your attention to these matters which are a concern to us all.  We look forward to working with you on the above and other issues to ensure New York stays as healthy as possible and our economy rebounds as quickly as possible.
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    Frank Thomas                              Ed Bartholomew                           Michael Bittel
    Chairman                                      President                                      President/CEO
    Warren County, NY                       Warren County                             Adirondack Regional
    Board of Supervisors                    Economic Development Corp      Chamber of Commerce
  • January 15, 2020 - Repeal Bail Reform January 15, 2020 - Repeal Bail Reform

    Repeal Bail Reform - January 15, 2020
    Due to the recent effects of the Bail Reform and Discovery law changes enacted on January 1, 2020, we at the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce ask that you read the following letter to our NY State Elected Leaders AND call the following folks to express your opinion on the matter. We believe that changes need to be made to our criminal justice system, but the recent changes have gone too far.
     
    We ask that you not only please call those who support and passed the current Bail Reform and Discovery law and ask them to amend the law; Governor Cuomo, Senator Majority Leaders Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Leader Heastie, please also call and thank our NY State Elected Officials who opposed and voted no on the Bail Reform and Discovery law; Senator Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner.
     
     
    Voted for Bail Reform and Discovery
    Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo
    Phone: 518.474.8390
    Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
    Phone: 518.455.2585 
    Email: scousins@nysenate.gov        
    Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie
    Phone: 518.455.3791
    Email: Speaker@nyassembly.gov             
     
     
    Voted no on current Bail Reform and Discovery (Pro-ARCC Position)
    Senator Betty Little
    Phone: 518.743.0968
    Assemblyman Dan Stec
    Phone: 518.792.4546
    Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    Phone: 518.584.5493
     
     
    Please note in the letter below that the ARCC has suggested a four step process to help improve this law and make much needed changes to make our region a safe place.
    Repeal Bail Reform and Discovery
     
    Dear Governor, Senator and Assemblymember,
     
    We at the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce are concerned with the recent changes to Bail and Discovery Reform enacted on January 1, 2020. We are hopeful that these changes can be reexamined and amended where needed.
     
     
    The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce has 764 members in Warren, Washington, Essex and Northern Saratoga County. We are writing you because of the effect these changes have on our businesses, our employees and more importantly on our greater community.
     
     
    Saratoga, Warren and Washington County Sheriffs and District Attorneys have supported publicly the need to adopt criminal justice changes. With that said, we believe that the state has gone too far and has put the general public safety at great risk. We recently had a person released from our local jail that is endemic to our situation. There is a recent case in which a man from out of our area was pulled over in Fort Ann on November 5, 2019. He had 998 grams (2.2 pounds) of cocaine in his car, he has 3 prior felony convictions and is currently on felony probation for a domestic violence conviction. Per the new state law this man was released after the first of the year on his own recognizance. 
     
     
    Our greater Lake George region relies heavily on tourism. What happens when someone from out of the area commits a crime in our backyard? Released on their own recognizance in most cases. Will they return from out of state or from out of the Country? If they don’t return, law enforcement, and in turn the taxpayers of our area, will have to pay to have our officers retrieve the defendants. This will take officers away from patrolling our large geographic region.
     
     
    Where do go from here? One, we hope you will engage with law enforcement across the State to have a voice and work with State elected officials to help make the system better. Two, we need to let judges have the ability to keep defendants with bail based on flight risk and public safety risk. Three, we need assistance from the State of New York to help fund these changes at the local level. Four, we really need to examine individually which misdemeanors and felonies should bail be an option, or be released on recognizance.
     
     
    Again, we truly believe the intent was to do good here by all involved. We do believe that changes do need to be made to the criminal justice system. With that said, when it comes to the safety of our neighbors, we need to give law enforcement and our judges the tools to protect not only the general public but also victims and witnesses all while protecting the rights of the defendant. We believe if we focus on the four steps outlined above, both protecting our neighbors and protecting defendants’ rights can be achieved. We ask our elected officials in Albany to reexamine the recent changes in the law, consider and implement the above changes and keep New York safe and a place we are all proud to call home.
     
     
    Blessings,
     
     
     
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
  • November 18, 2019 - NYSDEC New Regulations to Stormwater Discharges associated with Industrial Activity November 18, 2019 - NYSDEC New Regulations to Stormwater Discharges associated with Industrial Activity

    NYSDEC New Regulations to Stormwater Discharges associated with Industrial Activity - November 18, 2019

     
     
    NYSDEC is proposing new regulations to Stormwater Discharges associated with Industrial Activity. These regulations actually affect many businesses around our lakes which most of us would not classify as “industrial”, like marinas and other functioning businesses. The below has been sent to NYSDEC on behalf of our members. Below is the ARCC’s response to the proposed regulations.

    November 18, 2019

     

    NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

    Division of Water, Bureau of Water Permits

    625 Broadway

    Albany, NY 12205-3505

     

    ATTN: Steven J. McCague P.E. MSGP Permit Coordinator

    Re: Draft modifications to the SPEDES Multi Sector General Permit (MSGP) GP-0-17-004 SPEDES ID#: NYR00F527

     

     

    Dear Mr. McCague,

     

    In reference to the above proposed draft modifications please accept this as our initial comments from the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce on behalf of so many members who rely on a healthy and vibrant Lake George. These members, including but not limited to marinas, would be drastically affected by the proposed draft modifications in reference to timeline and cost. Our marinas, and all businesses on Lake George, want to ensure that the Lake is vibrant and clean in turn ensuring that their businesses continue to thrive. The proposed June 20, 2020 “No Exposure Certification” is quite frankly too much too quickly. We hope you will consider the following recommendations:

     

    1)   The initial comment period should be extended for at least forty-five days to January 15, 2020;

     

    2)   We would encourage the NYSDEC to solicit and engage input from local marinas, businesses and local elected officials on this matter to help comply with a reasonable timeline and regulations;

     

    3)   NYSDEC should consider extending the “No Exposure Certification” well past June 2020 to give our small businesses the ability to implement in a responsible way with minimal economic hardship to our businesses. 

     

    Thank you much for your consideration and support of our local businesses. I can be reached directly at 518-798-1761 with any questions or clarifications to the above.

     

    Michael T. Bittel

    ARCC President & CEO
  • ARCC Advocacy Archive ARCC Advocacy Archive

     

     


    ARCC Legislative Update July 2, 2019

    Your Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce has been busy this year with our legislators and legislation in Albany. There are several issues that effect our business community directly that your Adirondack Chamber was very active in making sure your voice was heard. Things have changed in Albany dramatically this year, with new leadership in the Senate. We had two choices, stay out of Albany or go in headfirst. Headfirst it was and headfirst it will continue to be!
     
    Many thanks to Senator Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner for all of their help and for putting up with my phone calls, emails and texts. These elected officials fought hard this session for our business community and are a pleasure to work with. There were A LOT of moving parts throughout this session, some bills moving and changing literally every minute.
    Here is the highlight reel:
     
    Prevailing Wage (S.1947/A.1261) – Did not pass. This bill would have put restrictions on private sector projects that receive any New York State funding or public assistance. It would have implemented prevailing wage costs and other public works’ mandates to such projects.  This would have increased private project costs in our region by at least 20%. Look for this bill to come up again this Fall or next year. 
     
    ARCC Opposed Prevailing Wage
     
    Farm Workers’ Fair Labor Practices Act (S.6578/A.8419) – Passed. Why would the ARCC become involved in this bill as much as we did? First, we have many wonderful members who are farmers and/or are agricultural related businesses. Second, many of these proposals, if they had been implemented, easily could have been transferred to your business by law next year. So, what happened? Farm workers can now form a union (which had been prohibited by New York State law since the 1920s). A union can now be formed by election, but unfortunately not by secret ballot. Farm workers are now to be paid overtime over 60 hours. A wage board has been created but does not include the Ag and Markets Commissioner. 
     
    What were the issues that we were able to help remove from the bill? There was a proposal to pay overtime when an employee worked over 8 hours in a 24-hour period. This was removed. A walk out strike provision was removed as well. It is tough to harvest crops or milk cows when your workers are out on strike. 
     
    ARCC Opposed the Farm Workers’ Fair Labor Practices Act
     
    Scaffold Law Repeal (S.326/A.3737) -   Did not pass. This bill would have given comparative negligence to personal injury, property damage and wrongful death. New York is the only state in the US that enacts the Scaffold Law. Current Scaffold Law holds the property owner and/or business owner as solely responsible for employee or contractor injury, even if 100% fault of the employee or contractor. Due to this law, New York insurance rates are among the top in the country.
     
    ARCC Supports Scaffold Law Repeal
     
    Renewable Energy Mandate (S.6599/A.8429) -   Passed. New York now has a timetable of 2030 to be a 70% renewable energy consumer. It goes to 100% by 2050. While the ARCC loves clean air and a clean environment and certainly supports renewable energy efforts, the timetable and costs (like increased energy bills) are unrealistic to our region’s business community. 
     
    ARCC Opposed Renewable Energy Mandate
     
    New York Health Care Act (S.3577/A.5248) – Did not pass. Single Payer government run healthcare did not pass in the Senate this session. It has been a bill since 1992 and has passed the Assembly the past four years. Single Payer government run healthcare in NY State would add an additional $160 billion dollars in new taxes per year (on conservative estimates, some estimates are as high as $220 billion per year). To put things in perspective, New York will probably collect about $90 billion in tax revenue in 2020. The ARCC, which will come out with a position paper soon, supports focusing on the 300,000 New Yorkers who have trouble accessing health insurance, and not add expense with the almost 20,000,000 New Yorkers who have access or can have access to health care now.
     
    ARCC Opposed to New York Health Care Act
     
    Golf Course Taxation (S.4420/A.6444) – Did not pass. This bill would have provided the opportunity for local municipalities to pass a local law to assess golf courses based on the property’s best possible use, rather than its actual use. Why did we oppose this? We have several golf courses as members who would be hit hard with this type of potential tax increase. Furthermore, what type of property could be allowed for this type of adjustment in the future?  
     
    ARCC Opposed Golf Course Taxation
     
    Thank you again for your investment in the ARCC, allowing us to serve you and be a trusted voice for our community!

    May 9, 2019 - Letter Regarding Farmworkers Fair Practices Act

    Senator Jessica Ramos
    Chair of Committee on Labor
    Legislative Office Building
    Room 946
    Albany, NY 12247
     
    Dear Senator,
     
    You and your colleagues are currently looking at implementing the Farmworkers Fair Practices Act. I would urge you and your colleagues to look at the entire picture of farm work; the farmer, the farm worker and the farm animals. Your recent comments that most farmers are hard-working and treat workers fairly is spot on. Many of the proposals in this bill will hurt so many hard-working farmers who are already struggling to survive. These farms provide high quality food and milk to our entire state. Moving this bill “as is” will cause many of these farms, especially smaller family farms, to shut their doors forever.
     
    I hope you will consider the following:
     
    1. No automatic overtime for hours worked over 8 hours per day. On the farm during harvesting, planting, normal course of people calling in sick or taking vacation, there is a need to work over 8 hours per day. The term, “make hay while the sun is shining” is a real term for good reason. Having farmers pay for hours over 8 worked in a day at overtime rate would severely add to farm costs that are already at critical levels.
    2. Farmer tax deduction for housing of farm workers. Many farms provide housing for their workers at no additional charge to the employee. Helping farmers offset these costs with a state tax deduction would continue to help support farm workers and their housing needs.
    3. No work stoppage. Farms operate with live animals and “living” food. If employees were allowed to walk off the job, many animals would get sick and/or perish. For example, cows need to be milked twice per day, if not they will get an infection which would at the very least make the cow sick or worse. We all want to ensure there is no chance, intentional or not, of animal abuse.
    4. More funding for worker safety training. Employee safety is always the #1 priority on any farm I have been on. Each year there is often a mix of veteran and new employees on the farm. All employees need safety training on a regular basis. Help from the state in this regard would maintain and encourage a high level of safety on the farm.
    5. No unemployment benefit payments paid on behalf of H2A employees. Farmers currently pay unemployment benefit payments on H2A workers who will never utilize this benefit. H2A workers are here on a temporary job guest worker program.
     
    While New York is one of the most expensive states to operate a farm, the above suggestions will help farmers stay in business and continue to produce the best food in the world.
     
    Thank you much for your attention to ensure that New York farms will be here for generations to come.   
     
    Blessings,
     
    Michael Bittel
    President/CEO
    Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

    April 1, 2019 - ARCC 2019 NY State Budget Legislative Action
     
    As our State Elected Officials convened in Albany to discuss the NY State Budget and other Legislative initiatives, your Chamber has been busy advocating for our members. Many thanks to Senator Little, Assemblyman Stec and Assemblywoman Woerner (and their staffs) for putting up with my many phone calls. Thanks to the offices of Governor Cuomo and Senator Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins for also putting up with me as well! This budget and the bills proposed were a moving target well into Sunday (yesterday). Here is a brief snapshot of what we have been advocating for you:
     
    Prevailing Wage – This has been kept out of the budget. ARCC was opposed to this being in the budget. Prevailing wage would have mandated that any entity receiving NY State funding would have to pay employees and contractor’s wages set by NY State. Most cost estimates put cost increases in labor at 20% for our region. While this of course would have hurt businesses who utilize state funding, it would have also hit our non-profits and schools particularly hard as well.
     
    Bottle Bill Expansion – This has been kept out of the budget. ARCC was opposed to this being in the budget. Several of our members would have been hit hard by this bottle bill expansion. While there is a 5 cent bottle return transaction, the current proposed bill did not address the additional costs to our stores and distributors in handling and disposing of the bottles.
     
    Plastic Bag Ban – This has passed as one of the budget bills. ARCC was opposed to this being in the budget as proposed. The Plastic Bag Ban most closely mirrors a Nassau County Plastic Bag Ban. Two features of this bill that we hope are changed in the future: 1) this primarily bans “one time use” bags mostly found at the grocery level. There are a number of exemptions where plastic bags will be used. It does not seem “fair” for the state to pick a targeted ban on plastic bags. 2) Each County can “opt-in” or “opt-out” if they would like to utilize a 5 cent usage fee on paper bags. This is tough on multi county members whose stores are in many counties across our region and state.
     
    Permanent Tax Cap – This has passed as one of the budget bills. The ARCC backed this bill. It provides more consistency to our members and the greater community for year over year tax bills capping property tax increases to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The ARCC was also pleased to see an additional $1 Billion dollars toward education in the budget or an increase of 3.8% year over year. There is supposed to be a funding mechanism to help fund “poorer” schools at a higher rate.
     
    Agriculture Funding – The ARCC supported our farmer members and greater community for funding to be fully restored for our upstate farming sector. Farming is the #3 economic driver in our region. At the beginning of last week we were down $5,000,000 in Ag funding compared to last year. It looks like the final bill has Ag funding down $1,100,000. Most of the Ag cuts seem to be with Cornell. This does not bode well for farm research and support. It is important to our economy to get this funding reinstated.
     
    Internet Taxes – This has been a moving target all the way through Sunday (yesterday). The ARCC has been active on this issue so that our Counties would receive their fair share of internet sales tax back through the state. In Warren/Washington/Saratoga County, for example a common sales transaction has a 7% tax, 4% goes to NY State and 3% goes to the County the purchase was made. A recent Supreme Court ruling stated that states can charge sales tax to online companies who have no presence in NY State. A week ago, NY State wanted to implement this tax a.s.a.p. and keep the entire 7%. This money would have gone toward the Metro Transit Authority, the Upstate Transit Authority and early voting costs. It actually passed into law Sunday with NY State keeping the full 7% and distributing portions of it to the cities, towns and villages to fund AIM (Aid and Incentives for Municipalities). The ARCC believes this is a bad precedent to set, that NY State controls where part, or all, of the County’s 3% goes. The ARCC believes that the 3% portion should go directly back to the Counties and AIM should be funded separately from the 3% as it has in the past. The way funding is set up in this bill, rural counties will receive less funding with this new pass through.
     
    Serving you, our member, is our #1 priority. Part of our service is making sure your voice is heard in Albany. We often have unique challenges and opportunities in our region that are different from other regions of New York State. Your ARCC is working hard to be part of the discussion and part of the solution regarding issues that are important to our area and your business. Thank you much for your support.
     
    Michael Bittel
    ARCC President/CEO

    January 24, 2019 - Lehigh Northeast Cement Title V Permit Modification
    Beth A Magee
    NYSDEC Region 5 Warrensburg Sub-Office
    232 Golf Course Rd
    Warrensburg, NY 12885
     
    RE: Lehigh Northeast Cement Title V Permit Modification
    Dear Ms. Magee:
    I am writing in support of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s preliminary determination to modify Lehigh Northeast Cement Company’s Title V air emissions permit to allow for the limited use of an engineered fuel product known as “raggertail” as a partial substitute for fossil fuels in its cement kiln.
    The Lehigh Northeast plant has been an integral part of the Greater Glens Falls business community for 125 years, providing good paying jobs to generations of local people and manufacturing an essential building product for homes, business, roads and bridges. The Glens Falls plant is the longest operating cement plant in the country, and one of only two surviving cement plants in New York State. They are fighting valiantly to continue this proud tradition by seeking out an alternative to fossil fuels that will lower their cost of production and enable them to remain competitive in the face of intense competition from a massive Canadian cement plant that began operations last year and is flooding the eastern seaboard with low-cost, government-subsidized cement.
    It is my understanding that DEC approved the methodology for, and directly oversaw, the emissions tests performed with the alternative fuel, and that the Department determined that the emissions generated would fall below the levels included in the plant’s existing Title V permit, which were established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 and reaffirmed by EPA as protective of human health and the environment in 2018.
    In its Environmental Notice Bulletin of November 21, 2018, DEC clearly states, “Emissions testing performed at the facility while burning the alternative fuel on a trial basis demonstrated that its use will not cause ambient impacts above State guideline concentrations.”
    Lehigh Northeast Cement is a responsible, valued member of New York State’s manufacturing community and has chosen a responsible and progressive approach to reducing its production costs while protecting our environment. In selecting its proposed replacement fuel, Lehigh has chosen a product that is made up of non-recyclable residuals from recycled paper mills — helping to ease the burden on our state’s rapidly diminishing landfill space and reducing the plant’s consumption of fossil fuels.
    I encourage you to reaffirm DEC’s conclusion that use of this fuel is safe for the environment and local people, and approve Lehigh’s permit modification at the conclusion of the public comment period.
    Sincerely,
     
    Michael Bittel
    ARCC President/CEO

    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.

    Michael Bittel

    President/CEO

    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.


    August 16, 2018 - Save the Gooley Club
     
    Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
     
    Dear Governor Cuomo,
    Congratulations on New York State’s continued efforts to keep the Adirondacks in its natural state.  The purchase of the Finch Pruyn land in the Essex Lakes region and Boreas Ponds areas has added to this vision.  We hope to see more economic benefit in visitors to the area in years to come.
    We are very concerned about the planned destruction of the historic Gooley Club, located in the heart of the Adirondacks.  The Gooley Club is the oldest continuously operating hunting and fishing club in the Adirondacks.  The Gooley Club Camp has recently been placed onto the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.
    The Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce urgently requests to postpone the planned demolition of the Gooley Club.  Our hope is that the State, the Gooley Club and other key stakeholders like Senator Betty Little have an open dialogue toward a productive resolution where all parties come together with a solution for all.
    Thank you in advance for your consideration.  We look forward to a “Forever Wild Adirondacks” balanced with the historic beauty of camps like this to honor our past.
    Blessings,
    Michael Bittel
    President and CEO
    Cc: Basil Seggos, Commissioner, NYSDEC
     

    August 9, 2018 - 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.

     

    May 16, 2018 - 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.