The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual business expo. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley checked in with exhibitors regarding their feelings about the economy.
The 26th annual Business Expo drew hundreds of business interests from across the region to network and discover services and businesses available across the North Country. Exhibitors ranged from office suppliers, commercial cleaning services, professional services and consultants to health and educational institutions. Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas feels a lot of positive energy about the regional economy. “I think almost to a person they feel good about where their business is and how it’s doing this year and what it’s going to do in the future. You will hear, if you get into conversations, reservations and concerns still out there about things nationally and how that may impact them. There’s still uncertainties. But generally, feeling good about their business and feeling good about the North Country and the area.”
Some vendors say the North Country is more economically vibrant than the rest of the state or the nation. Buck Supply and Distribution has been in business for about 75 years and works as far west as Watertown and east into Vermont. Account Manager Pete Grosskopf says it’s a competitive environment. “I think the North Country economy is tied more closely with the Canadian economy than it is with the U.S. national economy. I think the Canadian economy is very consistent and very strong. With the influx of Canadian companies into northern New York State, I think that really bolsters our base so that we can remain strong and competitive.”
Imperial Industrial Park Property Manager David Bray, who was also promoting Rotary, says there has been a substantial uptick in business activity within the past year. “It used to be that if you’d get an inquiry from somebody looking for industrial or warehouse space once a month we’d celebrate. And now we’re getting calls weekly of people looking to come into this area. We’ve just closed on a couple of leases and each one of those companies is going to be bringing in new jobs. I’m really optimistic about the direction that we’re going in this area. (What’s driving it?) Location, location, location. The Canadians want to come south. A lot of it, too, is that we are a transportation hub now and we have those rules and regulations that say Made in America you have to have so much U.S. content. As a result of that vendors that would support these companies now had to be in this area.”
Stored Tech is a networking, computer, server and phone systems company based in Queensbury. Sales and Marketing Manager Sarah Fussey says they opened offices in the North Country about a year ago and have continued to expand rapidly in other areas. “From last year we’re already up 250%. 2013 to 2012 we were over 100%. We don’t expect any slowdown. I see people expanding all the time. Upgrading all of their computers, upgrading their servers. So if they’re expanding with us it means that they’re expanding their business in general and they’re doing financially well. We’ve certainly benefitted from that.”
Dragon-Benware CPA-PC Managing Partner Doug Hoffman says the national recession is not over and it’s impacting the region. “America in general is still struggling and businesses are still struggling to maintain and survive during this recession that we’re in. And then you combine that with the North Country. The North Country is always a difficult place to make a living, let alone run a business. You combine that with the recession and people are still struggling and they’re still hurting. You know, when I say they’re still struggling, it’s certainly better than it was in 2009 and ‘10. So we’re doing better. But it certainly isn’t as good as it was in 2008 and before that.”
The Business Expo targets exchanges between businesses, rather than presenting a consumer focus.