Chamber Connections: Networking on all levels important to businesses

I was invited last Wednesday, and gratefully accepted on behalf of the business community, to listen to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

This year, the 2020 agenda, Making Progress Happen, which featured nation-leading proposals to tackle critical issues facing New York and the country, was uniquely special in its own way, as Gov. Cuomo emphasized the importance of unity and nurture, love not hate, which is a powerful message.

Now that I am in my eighth year as Otsego County Chamber president and CEO, I amazed at the enthusiasm and dedication of all the elected officials, state workers, community leaders and business leaders. I have had the opportunity to work many of those people while serving the past year as the board president for the Chamber Alliance of New York, representing 68 chambers across New York state.

These working relationships built over these years have a direct positive impact for our members, in that I am always promoting the natural beauty of our region, our assets of all the businesses, and take pride in representing all of the county has to offer. The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce maintains a working relationship with city, county, state and federal elected leaders and resources. We have the connections, access and the power of numbers to make our members’ voices heard, as well as to go to bat for our members.

Among the most significant proposals I heard are at the State of State address are: A small business tax cut, cutting the franchise tax for small corporate taxpayers from 6.5% to 4%, which that would cut taxes for an estimated 36,000 small businesses across the state; mandated paid sick leave for employers of five or more, and mandated unpaid time off for smaller employers; new mechanisms to regulate the price of pharmaceuticals; new enforcement provisions for “unfair” business practices; and employer liens in cases of wage theft.

The message is unclear how the governor will pay for the state’s $6 billion projected budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2021, or what measures will be proposed to address the deficit. There was no information on Medicaid program reforms, nor about any potential revenue raisers, which is information we would like to have for in-depth conversations with our members around these reforms so we can advocate for your needs.

The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with Gov. Cuomo’s administration to be informed on the Executive Budget once released. The chamber plans to host a State of the State networking luncheon at SUNY Oneonta on Friday, Jan. 24,  beginning at 11:45 a.m. It will be sponsored by Community Bank. We are grateful for their support of this now-30-year tradition of our chamber. For details on registering and the cost, please visit the chamber’s website at

The chamber also continues to offer small-business training series in support of business. Access to capital remains a critical component to a successful business, for existing businesses wishing to expand, and new startups. There is so much to learn and share at this interactive session. Please join us Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. for an “Access to Capital” workshop with the Small Business Development Center and and the Small Business Administration at the Otsego Now/Otsego County Chamber offices.

Are you interested in learning how to obtain a Small Business Administration guarantee loan? Meet local lenders from the Bank of Cooperstown, Community Bank, Key Bank and NBT Bank. This is free to the public. All are welcome. RSVP is required in advance by emailing or calling 607-432-4500.

Barbara Ann Heegan is president and chief executive officer of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.

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