Dear Putnam County Business Community,

Putnam County Business Council (PCBC) Board members John Kraus, Bill Nulk, Candice Sciarrillo and I attended a Small Business Roundtable on June 28th hosted by NYS Assemblyman Matt Slater. Joined by U.S. Congressman Mike Lawler and Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, the event provided an open platform for business owners and representatives of non-profit organizations to candidly address the challenges they face.

Two issues emerged as recurring themes: 1. the need to address the decline in youth employment and 2. the impact of competition from businesses in nearby Connecticut. Attendees expressed growing concerns over the decreasing number of young applicants for entry-level positions, which has become a significant hurdle for sustaining their operations. Additionally, the rising minimum wage has placed a considerable burden on smaller businesses, hindering their growth and progress. Addressing competition from Connecticut, the business owners pointed to the disparity in regulatory burden between the two states (NYS more, CT less).

John Kraus, Senior Vice President for Tompkins Financial, introduced a delegation of 6 representatives from the bank. Dedicated exclusively to serving Putnam County businesses, these individuals repeatedly mentioned the negative impact that higher interest rates are having on their customers.

Assemblyman Slater commented that “as a dedicated local official, my utmost priority lies in effectively representing the remarkable individuals who call my district home. I firmly believe in the significance of engaging directly with the community to understand their concerns, thoughts and opinions. Facilitating an open and constructive dialogue between myself, fellow local officials and the hardworking individuals who contribute to small businesses has proven to be an invaluable opportunity.

“I am pleased to join my partners in government, Assemblyman Matt Slater and Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, for a roundtable with small business owners from across Putnam County. I appreciated hearing their stories and the challenges they are facing. Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our community and here in New York especially, they are facing a myriad of challenges just to stay afloat. It is incumbent on us at the federal, state and local levels to partner with our business communities to help create an environment where they are able to grow and thrive,” said Representative Lawler.

County Executive Byrne added “small businesses employ nearly 70% of Americans, and it was inspiring to hear firsthand about the challenges they face and the innovative solutions they have implemented. As county executive, I am committed to supporting and advocating for our local small businesses, as they play a vital role in driving our economy and creating job opportunities. And big thank you to Putnam’s largest employer, Ace Endico, for being such a gracious host for this event”.

My fellow PCBC Board members and I were very impressed with the content and conduct of this meeting. Not only was the roundtable discussion useful in providing a well-articulated list of issues that concern local business people. It was also hopeful that the spirit of cooperation between the various levels of government demonstrated by Congressman Lawler, Assemblyman Slater and County Executive Byrne will lead to the resolution of many of these issues. The Putnam County Business Council is committed to actively participating in this resolution process.

Nat Prentice

President, Putnam County Business Council .

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