August 1, 2018 – Binghamton NY – An early breakfast, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Binghamton, was organized by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. This event, with guest speaker EJ McMahon of the Empire Center, was unique in many ways. One of the most notable was the fact that virtually all significant elected official in Broome County was in attendance beside large and small business owners.
From Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, to State Senator Fred Akshar, Assemblyman Cifford Crouch and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, to County Executive Garnar, Legislator Dan Reynolds and Binghamton City Councilmembers Papistrat, Scaringi, Resseneti, as well as Village Mayors and Town Supervisors were just a few of the elected figures in attendance. Each official was set at a different table to ensure that business owners would have an opportunity to share their concerns and needs directly with the lawmakers that could enable the economic growth of the region.
A discussion that was encouraged by Chamber CEO Jennifer Conway, in an effort to keep elected officials accountable and intimately aware of the factors affecting the region. She stated that the message of the event was,
“We understand the challenges to do business in New York State. We want to communicate those challenges, because we’re talking to people with the power to change it. It’s not about not helping those in need. It’s not about giving more money to the wealthy. It’s about creating an environment for economic growth.” She went on to state, “We are connecting our representatives with that voice, one on one, so they hear that voice themselves.”
The featured guest speaker, EJ McMahon, a former vice chancellor of the State University of New York and deputy commissioner for the State Department of Taxation and Finance, was clear in making sure that all attendees were aware of real environment of economic growth in New York and specifically the Southern Tier region. From expanding the view on the cause of unemployment rate reduction to the population exodus to rampant taxation and more, Mr. McMahon spared no sector impeding business growth and competitiveness. This was not political but economic. And it was detailed in sourced chart after chart and economic figures that detail a need to change direction legislatively to change the economy.
“The unemployment rate has dropped… the unemployment rate was almost 9% at it’s peak, in the trailing end of the Great Recession. Now its down below 5%. So, that’s something right? Well it would be if it reflected an actual increase in employment… The workforce in this region has been shrinking faster than employment opportunities… There are a growing number of people in Albany who assume you can tax with impunity. The problem is that you are basically penalizing growth.”
Exclusive unedited video of 2018 Legislative Breakfast –
After the hour-long presentation each table, with an elected official at each table, held a round-table conversation that detailed their personal experiences and concerns. Then Congresswoman Tenney, State Senator Akshar, and Assemblywoman Lupardo were able to share the interactions they had with all attendees at the event. Due to time constrains it was not possible to hear from all tables and elected representatives, but as stated notes of those further interactions is being transcribed by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce for attendees and the elected officials.
In all, the event gave all present a real-world and visceral example of the challenges to overcome and opportunities available in New York State and in the region.