Wayne County Business Council

Legislative column by Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R-C, Macedon)
May 23, 2011

We are a long way from re-establishing a vibrant economy, but there are a number of local signs that point to significant improvement. For instance, here are several Wayne County manufacturers that have been seeking new employees: Optimax, in Ontario, recently broke ground on a 20,000 square foot expansion that will mean 50 new jobs; Legendary Auto Interiors in Newark has eagerly been advertising for employees interested in learning the custom automotive industry; and IEC, also in Newark, has reported strong sales growth over several quarters and continues to hire people.

With many manufacturers now looking for employees, employers are more concerned with the level of training and job preparedness of the workforce. The Wayne County Business Council’s May 13th legislative forum at the Quality Inn in Newark focused on this topic. FAME (Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise) was formed to address this issue in our region. The event was extremely informative, and it was a great opportunity to connect with many leaders from the county’s diverse business community.

Interestingly, the night before the Wayne County Business Council breakfast, I was in Syracuse for the Manufacturers of Central New York (MACNY) annual dinner. The main topic at MACNY’s meeting: “Workforce Preparedness.” The message at both forums: we need to do a better job of training and recruiting more students, at the high school and community college levels, into programs where there are workforce shortages, especially mid-level skill jobs.

In addition to concerns about the workforce, businesses have been very concerned about affordable power and tax relief. Two provisions included in New York’s 2011-12 state budget will, hopefully, provide some relief. “Recharge New York” permanently replaced the temporary “Power for Jobs” program. It allows for strategic planning for existing business owners and for those looking to start or move enterprises here. It assures the continued availability of low-cost energy for eligible businesses. The budget also bolstered the Excelsior Jobs program, extending its tax benefit period from five to 10 years and providing a jobs tax credit equal to the product of gross wages paid and 6.85 percent. The program will double in the next decade, providing $2.5 billion in relief.

It is still uncertain if businesses will see any property tax relief from Albany. A recent poll by the Business Council of New York State asked manufacturers what they perceived as the biggest government hurdle facing them - nearly a third of respondents thought property taxes were the most significant barrier. Seventy-five percent rated property taxes as a major hindrance to the sector. Clearly, controlling property taxes is critical to the long-term economic success of our state. School and local governments have appropriately been demanding significant mandate relief should a property tax cap be implemented.

If you would like to discuss these topics or any other concerns, I can be reached at 315-946-5166 or by emailing my office at: oaksr@assembly.state.ny.us.