3rd Annual Legislative Breakfast – How can we move from a pandemic to the roaring 20’s once again

The third annual Legislative Breakfast on August 5th was a dynamic webinar that brought business leaders and elected officials together for a meaningful conversation. Due to COVID concerns this event was totally virtual, which allowed the Chamber to bring lots of community leaders together while still adhering to NYS Guidelines.


The US Chamber of Commerce started the event by presenting Congressman Brindisi with the Spirit of Enterprise Award for his bipartisan work and his support of the USMCA (The US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement). By earning the 2020 Spirit of Enterprise award, the Congressman has shown his commitment to not only supporting pro-business legislation, but also a commitment to the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.


Michael Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute was the keynote speaker and spoke about what leaders need to consider as we move out of crisis in NY. Michael believes that NYS has to learn from the past if we want to chart an effective course in the future. His talk focused on three key sections; Where we have been, what we have learned, and where we will go next.


Michael impactfully explained that in 2020 we have already had a 1918 style pandemic, a 1930’s era depression, 1960’s style protests, and a 1970’s era fiscal ruin.


While COVID-19 did not affect places equally, Binghamton is fairing through this economic situation much better than NYC. Our unemployment rate is at approximately 11% which Is about the national average while other places in NY have approximately 1 out of 5 people unemployed. In New York, Leisure and Hospitality are the two hardest hit sectors. That is why Hawaii is actually the only state suffering more economic hardship during this time than anywhere else. NYS has experienced a 8.2% GDP decrease.


Michael explained how New Yorkers had become frustrated with the moving goal posts that many business owners felt during the reopening process. This type of confusion and frustration harms small businesses. It is very likely many small businesses will have to close their doors and in NYC that number could be as high as 1/3rd of small businesses.


Restoring economic growth in NY needs to be THE focus of our leaders moving forward. This can be done by focusing on a thriving economy, healthy finance, assessable housing, effective infrastructure, flourishing education, growing public safety, and increasing competitiveness. Growth is not something can be taken from granted, for instance upstate NY still has not recovered from the last economic recession.


New York needs to move forward with a growth agenda. Sunsetting commissions is one way the state could begin to look at laws that no longer serve their intended purpose and could be done away with. The state also needs to look for ways to make the labor more flexible and make it easier for job creation to occur. Government needs to be fiscally responsible and provide effective programs and services. Also, there needs to be a regional approach to career pathways. Lastly, we need to focus on creating a strong civil society and build positive social capital.
In 1918 some communities rebounded quicker than others economically following the pandemic. If we apply a pro-growth agenda to todays challenges it can lead us to the roaring 20s once again.

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