• Business Leaders Watching Democratic State Government, Possibility of Recession for 2019

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    February 08, 2019

    The majority of business leaders in the Albany region said they're optimistic about the year ahead. They'll be watching, though, what comes out of a state government controlled by Democrats.

    One proposal that Scott Stevens has an eye on would require contractors to pay prevailing wage to workers on projects receiving any state money.

    "We’re worried about prevailing wage creep. It can be a complex topic," said Stevens, president of Dimension Fabricators, on a Business Review panel discussion Wednesday. "We’re scared of it, where it would force manufacturers for example to pay union wages in a plant."

    Prevailing wage is on the list of the top issues Heather Briccetti is paying attention to this legislative session. Her list became longer after she saw Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive budget proposal.

    "After the budget came out, the list went to be about 30 things," said Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State.

    About 140 businesspeople attended the breakfast event Wednesday at The Century House in Latham to hear what business executives are projecting for 2019.

    Democrats are in control of the governor's office, the state Senate and the Assembly this year. Many of the Democrats who hold leadership positions are from downstate New York.

    Briccetti wants to be sure the voices of upstate New Yorkers and business owners are heard in that environment.

    "The issues that get people elected in the city, MTA region tend to be more social progressive issues," Briccetti said.

    Business owners are paying attention to what's going on at the national level, too. Stevens is watching for whether the economy heads into a recession.

     

    Erik Morton, a senior vice president at CommerceHub, is concerned about the impact of tariffs on his customers who are retailers. He said many of their products come from China, and uncertainty around the tariffs can make it hard to decide on longterm investments.

    Eileen Venn said she expects to grow her company, Mechanical Testing Inc., by 15 percent again this year because of construction demand.

    "There's a lot of large buildings going up in 2019," Venn said.

    Across the Albany region and upstate New York, business executives are generally optimistic for the year ahead, according to the findings of a Siena College Research Institute survey. Research Institute director Don Levy presented the findings at the event.

    More than 60 percent of Albany area business leaders told surveyors they expect their revenue to grow this year, and 48 percent expect to grow profitability. Approximately half of them plan to hire this year.

    Across upstate, 64 percent of CEOs responded they are concerned with government regulation. Sixty-seven percent said they believe state government does a poor job creating a business climate where their company can thrive.

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