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.