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State must focus on job creation

November 26, 2015
By Todd J. Tranum - President & CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southe , Westfield Republican

Governor Cuomo is advocating for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour across all business sectors. This comes on the heels of an hourly increase to $8 in January, 2014, $8.75 in January, 2015, and a pending hike to $9 for January, 2016, as well as a fast food industry minimum wage that will climb to $15 dollars by July 1, 2021. As we have noted in prior articles, we understand the intent is to help lift people into improved financial situations. It is true that there are workers who remain on public benefits and/or work multiple jobs because their current employment provides wages that are not sufficient to make ends meet. An artificial increase in the minimum wage, particularly one that puts New York State at a competitive economic disadvantage with other States is not going to fix underemployment and poverty issues. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier have, for many years now, taken the position that the minimum wage is something which should be addressed on a national level.

Unfortunately, another round of wage increases in New York State undermines the rally cry that 'New York Is Open for Business' and it sends the wrong signal to employers and those we are trying to encourage to invest in New York. Instead, New York State should focus on creating an environment for job creation and workforce skills development. The focus should be on filling and creating jobs that lift people out of poverty. Right now, employers can't find people with the skills they need to fill job openings and it is becoming even more pronounced as baby-boomers reach retirement age. Filling current openings and the creation of good paying skilled jobs is critically important to improving our economy and the quality of life for New York's families. We have a workforce crisis regionally and across the country. Raising the minimum wage is not helping this situation and in fact will simply make it worse.

A couple of weeks ago, a coalition of organizations formed a grassroots campaign to oppose the minimum wage hike. The Minimum Wage Reality Check campaign has been launched online at Among those participating are The Business Council of New York State, Unshackle Upstate, the New York Farm Bureau, Associated General Contractors of New York State, New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association, New York Association of Convenience Stores, and many others.

Minimum Wage Reality Check says that increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour will negatively impact all New Yorkers. It will put many struggling small businesses, family farms, and non-profits out of the business. For others, it will cause a reduction in jobs and reduced employee hours. The Business Council estimates that the costs of everyday products will rise dramatically, and that local governments will be forced to raise taxes and reduce services. The total impact on private sector labor costs is expected to reach $15.7-billion a year.

Heather Bricetti, President of The Business Council, said, "The Business Council believes that the state's long-term economic strategy requires improvements in the state's overall competitiveness. Imposing significant cost increases on employers is contrary to that objective."

We strongly encourage you to visit the Minimum Wage Reality Check website, and follow the movement on Facebook and Twitter. Social media is the new grassroots when it comes to political activism, and we applaud the coalition for doing its homework and putting together this much needed drive to focus on a needlessly expensive proposal for New York State.

Small Business

Saturday focuses on 'Shop Local' movement

Once again this year, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is a Neighborhood Champion for Small Business Saturday. We whole-heartedly support the move to Shop Small and Shop Local, and for our county we add the tagline "Shop-Tauqua." For every $100 shopping dollars spent at a locally owned business, $68 goes back into the local economy. Our objective, always, is to drive foot traffic into local business and to help boost the sales of our local, Chamber member businesses. These businesses are the life-blood of our local economy. They include small retailers, local restaurants, specialty shops, agri-businesses, wineries, artists and galleries and many others. Watch for our special ads listing Chamber member businesses that will be open on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28.

In addition, as the holiday season approaches, we remind you that the Chamber's Shop-Tauqua Gift Checks make perfect thank you gifts for employees, friends and family. They can be used just like cash at over 80 local businesses, and help to support our local Chamber member merchants and restaurants.

Shuttle to the Stars planned for Dec. 8

Sun Air Express will present a free informational reception for local businesses and residents to learn about flights between Jamestown and Pittsburgh. This event will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 5-7 p.m. at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 East Fourth Street, Jamestown. It is presented by the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation. We encourage you to attend to learn how this service can benefit local business travelers.

Development strategies for Jamestown

to be presented

The global planning firm AECOM Technical Services will share findings of its strategic studies for downtown Jamestown during two pending meetings. The studies were done to help maximize the positive impact of the National Comedy Center on the region. Findings for attractions, businesses, and community members will be presented on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Robert H. Jackson Center. Information specific to real estate and business investment opportunities will be shared at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Dec.2 at the Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center.

We encourage all interested parties to attend these important presentations to learn more. For more information, contact the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency, or the Gebbie Foundation.



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