Since 2010, representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have been making field trips to different regions across the state. On Monday its president, William Dudley, met with Plattsburgh business leaders to discuss North Country economic issues.
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said Plattsburgh is a place that makes things through an integrated cross-border link. "A place that put itself in the Quebec business. We actually go up into Quebec and we help Quebec businesses export to the U.S. Why do we do that? Because half of what they export to the U.S. is going to come through here. And even if they don’t do anything locational our professional service community, our customs brokers, our banks and so on are going to service that activity on this side of the border. And when they do want to do something locational we’re going to be the first on their minds as a place as part of their growth in the U.S. market that they do that.”
William Dudley has been the 10th president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY since January 2009. He is the vice-chair of the Federal Open Market Committee, which formulates the country’s monetary policy. He told the businesspeople in Plattsburgh that attitudes have changed during his tenure and people are more upbeat about the economy. “This is actually a pretty good place to be. We’re pretty close to what we think is full employment. Inflation’s a little bit lower that what we would like. But we think if the labor market continues to tighten wages will gradually pick up and with that we’ll see inflation get back to 2 percent. The only real fly in the ointment in terms of the U.S. economy at this point is the gains of economic growth are not always well distributed. You know I think one lesson of the election is the people left behind. We need to be more attentive to them. The other fly in the ointment I think is productivity growth is a little bit weak. But all in all I’m generally pleased with how the economy is going. The outlook looks pretty good.”
Dudley took questions and comments for about 45 minutes on a wide array of issues, from banking and broadband to agriculture, automation and cross-border trade.
Glens Falls National Bank Chief Credit Officer Dave Kaiser brought up the downtown living trend. “We love to finance those kinds of projects. But you need jobs. You need to have a Nova Bus. You need to have places like that where they have hundreds of jobs so people will live in your cities. And that way all the other businesses will thrive.”
The Miner Institute is an agricultural research center in Chazy. Trustee Geoff Yates, who retired from the farm credit system, talked about agricultural economics in the North Country. “The economic impact is substantial and there’s a lot of businesses that support agriculture, the equipment dealers and so forth the service industries. If you look at the statistics for New York state as far agriculture and their economy it’s just massive.”
Dudley says visiting each region helps him form a more comprehensive view of the district’s economy. “It informs what we can do as a Federal Reserve Bank to be helpful to the region in terms of supplying data, convening, you know, conferences, small business forums, on how to export, how to achieve credit. So it gives us a little bit more insight about where should we put our resources in terms of trying to help the region. But then it also informs me in terms of thinking about how is the economy doing. You know how tight is the labor market? Where are there skill shortages? Is education partnering well with business or not so well? All those things are relevant in term of how we think about the economy.”
Dudley traveled with about 10 aides. Chamber President Douglas said this first visit from federal reserve representatives may help spur local economic development. “It plants the seeds for future inclusion in things. It has value. It’s an indirect value, but it definitely has value over time. And they’re going to go back to New York and they’re going to sit on the PATH train from New Jersey, they’re going to get on their buses out to Long Island and they’re going to say gee I saw where these were made.”
Dudley toured Bombardier and Nova Bus, two Canadian-based companies with manufacturing plants in Plattsburgh. He then traveled to Potsdam and Fort Drum to meet with business leaders in the western sector of northern New York.