A survey conducted by the local chamber of commerce finds that confidence in the North Country’s business climate is surging.
Every year the Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce surveys its members on local, state and federal economic issues. It then calculates a Business Confidence Index based on business activity expectations. This year the region has a 93 percent confidence level: 67 percent of businesses expect activity to increase and 26 percent expect steady commerce.
Chamber President and CEO Garry Douglas notes there have been a series of economic development announcements leading to the 7 percent jump from last year in firms’ anticipated heightened activity. “$125 million for the selection of Plattsburgh as the site of Norsk Titanium. $38 million for the next wave of redevelopment at Plattsburgh International Airport. Downtown Plattsburgh’s to receive $10 million for downtown revitalization. The redevelopment of the Frontier Town area in North Hudson. The major investment by the governor at Whiteface and Gore. It has been an historic period. I can’t imagine any other period in the history of Plattsburgh when over just several months you would have had such an astounding series of announcements, any one of which would normally be kind of the announcement of the year. And by the way we anticipate a few more coming from Albany before this year is out.”
Primelink President Greg MacConnell, the chamber’s chair of government affairs, says the fiber optic and internet provider has been expanding, reflecting much of the region’s economic activity. “We’re very bullish on the state of the economy here in this area. And I think it reflects a number of the announcements that have been made recently: the revitalization of downtown Plattsburgh, the improvements to the airport and the announcement on Norsk Titanium. Whenever you have a dollar that’s invested by New York state or the federal government that’s part of it, but that’s a small part of it. You’re looking for that to be leveraged many many times by companies that come to support a Norsk Titanium. And we’ve seen it in the past with the Bombardiers and the Nova Busses the other companies that come to provide components to their manufacturing process.”
Member businesses were polled over the past two weeks. In light of what appears to be federal dysfunction recently, MacConnell finds the survey results encouraging. “We are seeing the dramatic effect here locally of some of the things that have happened over the past year you know and the multiplier effect. Very encouraging and you can look past those things that are happening at the national level to see the concrete things that are actually happening here. And the concrete things are much more important than the rhetoric for many people, certainly a business owner.”
The survey ranked protecting the U.S.-Canada economic relationship the top priority. At the state level, Douglas reports concerns about proposed Buy American mandates. “A clear majority of 54 percent opposing any new Buy American provisions by the state of New York. Another 29 percent are prepared to support some Buy American requirement so long as Canada is somehow not included.”
The chamber distributed about 4,000 surveys across the four and a half-county region. The response rate was just over 15 percent.