New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was in Plattsburgh this afternoon to address the members of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and release the North Country Region’s Economic Profile.
The comptroller’s office has been producing economic profiles for each area of New York, outlining population and economic demographics. Two were released last year for central New York and the mid-Hudson region. This summer the Finger Lakes region report was released and now the North Country profile has been published.
Comptroller DiNapoli, a Democrat, met with local business leaders to outline the data in the North Country report compared to other areas of the state. “But bottom line is the North Country has many advantages and enviable assets to build upon. Spectacular natural environment, an impressive higher education network and that becomes so key to an economic future, close proximity to Canada specifically Montreal that creates unique opportunities for your part of the state. That doesn't mean that there aren’t challenges. You know unemployment being higher than other parts of the state that is a concern. There still is a challenge there to do that match between the jobs that you have, the new jobs you're trying to encourage and actually have people take advantage of those opportunities. But there's no doubt that you also have some unique assets that you can build on.”
DiNapoli also noted that the state as a whole continues to recover from the impact of the recession, with the unemployment rate now below 5 percent. State revenues are falling short of expectations. But he believes the real economic risk to New York are the fiscal decisions pending in Washington. “Just take health care alone, just from a pure budgetary point of view. If the the more extreme proposals for repealing would take effect you could conservatively say over the next few years we could do something six billion dollars in federal money largely through the Medicaid program. That creates a big problem for our budget. The federal budget proposes cuts in many areas. We could lose in excess of one point two billion dollars to the state, some of that would go to localities as well. The tax cut, the tax reform proposal, we don't know the fine print yet. I just don't trust that it's going to come out in a way that really will protect the broad range of working and middle class people in New York.”
Democratic Clinton County Legislature Chair Harry McManus believes Clinton Country is in an economic renaissance and found the economic comparisons to other areas intriguing.
“The frightening part of this equation is what's going on in Washington and how it will impact you know us up here. We did an analysis locally on the first Repeal and Replace. And you know it was almost ten percent of the people in Clinton County would lose their health insurance. And the key to this is, and he said it, the billions of dollars that we will lose that the state is not going to be able to absorb. So it’s going to come down to the counties. That's what's going to happen and that's what I really worry about.”