PLATTSBURGH — Improving the border situation was at the top of the list of issues for those participating in the North Country Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Issue Survey.
The survey, which focused on both federal and state issues, was sent to over 3,500 businesses in the area and got a 19.8 percent response rate.
Questions related to the U.S.-Canada border crossings, rising inflation, supply chain issues and delays, and staffing shortages were all asked.
Garry Douglas, chamber president, said the top federal priority, with 98% support, was U.S. and Canadian governments focusing on planning and progress on border crossings.
“Progress toward normalization of the U.S.-Canada border crossings was way in front of the others,” Douglas said at a news conference at the North Country Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
“It continues to be a very strong interest and concern and continues to be the top priority, once again, of the regional business community in terms of what needs to be done at the federal level.”
The second federal priority with 97% support was bringing rising inflation under control, with 78% answering a secondary question saying rising inflation is negatively impacting their business.
The third federal priority with 96% support was addressing supply chain issues and delays, with 71% answering a secondary question saying supply challenges are negatively impacting their business.
“A very strong percentage of businesses are now saying, ‘it is directly impacting my business, the cost of my raw materials, the cost of my goods, the cost of services that I need to maintain my business.’ That’s very important to realize,” Douglas said.
“We’re seeing that in construction, we’re seeing it in retail, and in restaurants. All types of businesses are experiencing delays and problems accessing goods and supplies of various kinds and it’s impacting their business.”
Another federal priority issue was further federal and state support needed to enhance access to affordable childcare as an essential part of meeting workforce needs.
At the state level, Douglas said the top priority issues were closing broadband and cell phone service gaps in the North Country, avoiding new mandates on small business and employers this year, changes in workforce development programs to be more helpful, and measures to help end the pandemic and assist businesses with impacts from the pandemic.
Other state priority responses:
• 94 percent believe the state must maintain energy supplies and avoid cost hikes in current energy during the transition.
• 60 percent saying staffing shortages are causing a loss of business.
Government Affairs Chair, Steve Eaton, said the survey results have allowed the North Country to have a unified voice.
“Garry has done an excellent job representing us and making sure that our issues and concerns are shared and accurately acted upon with our leaders in both Albany and Washington,” Eaton said.
“On behalf of the business community here in the North Country, there’s reason for optimism. The results here show that, and in our own ways we have dealt with the pandemic differently. We’ve adjusted the way we’ve worked, adjusted the way we’ve engaged with customers and suppliers, and we found a way to persevere.”
Email Carly Newton: