Author:Colleen Graham

Advocating for Your Needs During this Crisis

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce has been actively fighting for the Greater Binghamton Business Community during this time of crisis. This year has been unusual from an advocacy standpoint, a shorter NYS legislative session, major federal stimulus, and mandates coming from all levels of government has created a turbulent environment for businesses.


At the beginning of this crisis, the Chamber had been advocating that New York State pass a fiscally responsible budget, that did no harm to the business community. Unfortunately, New York did not pause piling on mandates and cost to businesses. The passing of prevailing wage expansion, and permanent paid sick leave will simply make doing business in New York more difficult.


As the economic toll of the situation started to become more apparent, the Payroll Protection Program became essential to secure business continuity during this crisis. The Chamber was actively involved in advocating for additional PPP funding. Our local businesses desperately needed additional funds to stay open and the initial funding dried out quickly. The Chamber was in frequent contact with Brindisi, Schumer and Gillibrand’s offices advocating that the PPP money was not held up. In part due to our advocacy, (and many other businesses and Chambers) the Senate stopped playing political games and put the needs of these small businesses as their top priority. Thankfully, additional PPP funds were allocated.


Unfortunately, 501c6 Organizations like the Chamber are not eligible to receive PPP funds. The Chamber is advocating that these organizations can receive these funds so we can continue to meet the needs of our local businesses.


Part of our role at the Chamber has been offering support and guidance for businesses who need it. Businesses have had questions ranging from the Payroll Protection Program, shared work, unemployment insurance, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, new paid leave mandates, essential business guidance, and code enforcement. The Chamber has helped many businesses navigate their problems and have connected them to the resources they have needed.


The Leadership Alliance has created a Response Recovery and Resiliency task force to help our local economy rebound after the pandemic. The focuses of this workgroup are tourism, workforce development and business continuity. The work groups are working to ensure our economy will rebound as quickly as possible. We encourage you to join us for our bi-weekly community update, where we discuss what the workgroup has been doing and what we are learning. Also, I encourage you to look at the Resiliency Toolkit that the Leadership Alliance created to keep businesses in Broome county up to date of what programs are being offered to help support both workers and businesses.


Looking forward, workers comp could be a serious business community issue. The Chamber joined a coalition letter with the Business Council stating the following: “we are opposing any legislative or regulatory proposal that would amend New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Law to create an occupational disease presumption for employees that have contracted COVID-19.” This change would cause skyrocketing workers compensation costs and could bankrupt the system.


With business reopening and Stacey Duncan’s appointment to the Governor’s reopening committee, the Greater Binghamton Chamber will be doing our part to make sure our local economy has a speedy recovery. The Chamber has frequently been in contact with state and local leaders during this time and plans to continue to do so.


While most people are working from home, the Chamber is busier than ever doing what we can to ensure our businesses have the resources and information they need. If there is anything that the Chamber can do to help you during this time, please feel free to reach out and we will do our best to assist you.

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Southern Tier Reopening: Important Updates May 15, 2020

*Up-to-date information as of today’s date. All information is subject to change in accordance with New York Foward guidelines.*


Phase 1 Reopening Date: May 15, 2020 – limited industries see below

*All Essential workers will continue operating under current protocols*


The following seven (7) metrics must be met:
• 14 day decline in hospitalizations OR under 15 new hospitalizations (3-day average)
• 14 day decline in hospitalized deaths OR under 5 new (3 day average)
• New hospitalizations – under 2 per 100K residents (3 day rolling average)
• Share of total beds available (threshold of 30%)
• Share of ICU beds available (threshold of 30%)
• 30 per 1k residents tested monthly (7 day average of new tests per day)
• 30 contact tracers per 100k residents or to meet current infection rate


This reopening phase is regionally driven and monitored by the members of Southern Tier “Regional Control Room”


A Regional Reopening Dashboard has been created to monitor public health metrics.


Phase 1 Industries Include:
• Construction (those deemed “non-essential” can now open)
• Manufacturing and wholesale supply chain
• Retail- curbside pickup
• Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing


Businesses will have to create a physical work plan considering the following factors:
• Adjusted workplace hours and shift design
• Social distancing
• Non-essential travel restrictions
• Wearing masks if in frequent contact with others
• Strict cleaning and sanitation standards
• Continuous health screenings
• Continuous tracing, tracking, and reporting
• Liability for maintaining processes


An online portal to review, acknowledge, and affirm creation of a plan will be available by approximately May 14, 2020.


*Essential service industires that have been working during this must also affirm and certify on the online portal*


NEW INFORMATION REGARDING INDUSTRY SECTOR DETERMINATION: A new tool is now available to help companies determine whether or not a business is eligible to reopen, and the public health and safety standards with which a business must comply.


This tool uses information about the company County and NAICS code. To access it, please visit:


NY will also reopen statewide limited low-risk businesses and recreational activities as of May 15 including:
• Landscaping and gardening
• Outdoor, low-risk recreational activities such as tennis so long as social distancing and proper hygiene are being enforced
• Drive- in movie theaters so long as social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting procedures are in place


This essential business guidance shall remain in effect for the regions and industries that are not yet within the reopening phases. Revisions to the essential guidance are as follows:

• Watkins Glen International and Tioga Downs (horse racetrack) were given authorization to open without spectators effective June 1, 2020.
• Guidance on Memorial Weekend will be provided week of May 18, 2020; NY, NJ, DE and CT have reached a multi-state agreement to begin opening private and public beaches in their states with certain restrictions effective May 22, 2020
• Acupuncture, prescribed by a medical professional, has been added
• Retail, in regions that are not within the first phase of the state’s regional re-opening plan, delivery for orders placed remotely via phone or online at non-essential retail establishments; provided, however, that only one employee is physically present at the business location to fulfill orders has been added
• Services, auto maintenance has been added along with auto repair; pet grooming to maintain the animal’s health has been added; gardening and horticulture has been added
• Services to maintain the health, safety, and sanitation, specialized maintenance, including but not limited to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and pool maintenance has been added; cleaning and sanitation services has been added; occupational safety and health professionals has been added; commercial moving services has been added
• Non-motorized boat use and rentals, such as row boats, kayaks, canoes; and golf and driving ranges, except miniature (mini) golf, with food and retail services subject to the restrictions that are currently in effect within the region;
• Some personal care will be considered “professional service” and can be open in Phase 2 including hair salons. Other things such nail, massage, tattoo parlors and others TBD
• Pet Grooming has always been deemed essential the service is “directly related to the health and well-being of the animal”
• Churches can screen for “drive through” services
• Optometry is considered essential but non-emergency dental is not
• Municipalities can operate under 50% capacity but must adhere to all state guidelines
• DMVs will remain closed by EO that was extended to 6/6/20; Guidance on commercial (CDL) licensing forthcoming
• Guidance has not yet provided guidance on summer camps but are reviewing and expect to be released in June


• Develop your reopening work plan: A physical plan must be created and kept on-site at your place of business;
• Review existing policies/procedures related to reopening: remote work policies, technology usage, insurance coverage, other;
• Consult with your industry association and/or attorney on any changes to employment law;
• Begin communication with employees as often and as soon as possible so they know what will change, what will be expected of them.
• To send outreach to the NY Forward Reopening Advisory Board: email


We’re all in this together. Remember: the actions we take today will either help or hinder our recovery.

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WSKG Broadcasts Programming for Kids Learning from Home

In response to area school closings, WSKG TV is broadcasting a grade level “Learn At Home” schedule from 6 AM – 5 PM weekdays beginning on Monday, March 23rd. This TV schedule was developed to help schools and districts bridge the digital divide and provide equitable access to learning for all students at home regardless of access to the internet or computers.

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Transportation staff at Vestal CSD Deliver Chromebooks to Families

The Transportation staff at Vestal Central School District continue their mission to support students’ education. Families who do not have computers, laptops or tablets at home, or have more than one child engaged in home learning, were loaned Chromebooks from the Vestal Central School District. On April 3, 2020, school bus drivers John DiIorio, Barb Finch, Tammy Harman, Becky Kutcher, Bonnie Metcalfe, Amy Rockwell, Ron Roehr and Walt Schlundt delivered 94 Chromebooks to families who were in need of a device to aid their child’s home learning efforts!

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Union-Endicott High School Techers 3-D Printing Face Shields

Corey Munn and Michael Wichowski, two Union-Endicott High School technology and engineering teachers are using their time at home to make a difference not only for their students but for the community, 3-D printing face shields for health care workers. The teachers involved were able to bring home the school’s 3-D printers and with support from Budman Industries for the files, they are able to donate face shields to local EMS crews and the supply drop off location at the Oakdale Mall.

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UHS Hospitals Thanks Community for Food Donations to their Healthcare Workers

The providers and staff at UHS Hospitals have been truly touched by the generosity of our community as we all work together to keep COVID-19 contained. They would like to especially thank these businesses and organizations for reaching out to them and supporting their staff during this time: McDonald’s, Bagel Factory, TGI Fridays, Alexander’s, Jim Roma’s, Nirchi’s, A Tavolo, Cracker Barrel, IHOP, Starbucks, Tony’s Italian Grill, Copper Top, Outback Steakhouse, Price Chopper, Phil’s Chicken House, Stu’s Place, Waterman’s Distillery, The Dugout – Pizzeria, The Terrace, Reliable Market, Nezuntoz Café, Jim Roma’s Bakery, Spiedie and Rib Pit, Chroma Café, New Life Ministries – Endicott, Burger Mondays, Broome-Tioga BOCES, and others!

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UHS Becomes First Hospital-Based Consumer-to-Provider Telehealth Service in US to Earn National Accreditation

UHS has become the first hospital-based consumer-to-provider telehealth service in the United States to earn national accreditation. Currently, UHS offers video visits from home or on-the-go for respiratory illnesses including COVID-19 through the UHS Virtual Walk-In. In response to the current COVID-19 situation, UHS is now offering primary and specialty care video visits to its established patients who are at home with the same platform that powers the Virtual Walk-In.

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Tioga State Bank Welcomes Susan Farrell

Tioga State Bank is pleased to announce that Susan Farrell has joined the Tioga State Bank Business Development team as Vice President, Business Development Officer.

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