Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Chamber Notes Strong Decline in Area Unemployment
September unemployment numbers have been released by the New York State Labor Department, showing the New York State unemployment rate for September was 9.4% compared with 3.6% twelve months earlier.

The North Country Chamber points out that our area numbers are significantly better in comparison and continue to improve:

  • CLINTON COUNTY: 4.9%, down from 8.0% in August and a high of 15.2% in April
  • FRANKLIN COUNTY: 5.1%, down from 8.8% in August and a high of 14.3% in April
  • ESSEX COUNTY: 4.7%, down from 7.7% in August and a high of 17.1% in April
  • HAMILTON COUNTY: 4.0%, down from 5.5% in August and a high of 14.2% in April
  • WARREN COUNTY: 5.2%, down from 8.5% in August and a high of 17.3% in April

"The positive trend from April has been steady, but the significant improvement in the last month is really encouraging," states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "It clearly reflects, in the case of Clinton County, the strong performance of our large and diverse manufacturing sector, most of which never shut down and much of which is in a hiring mode. And while we continue to suffer an economic and employment hit related to the closure of our border to Canadian visitors, cross border shipping and supply chain activity has remained strong with a 3% growth in truck activity at the Champlain border crossing for August."

Douglas further notes "the importance of the commitment by area residents to maximize support for local businesses and residents and to enjoy our incredible area in the absence of travel. This is a definite positive factor as well and must continue over the coming months." 
Clinton County has Been Added to the Vermont Travel Restriction List
Tuesday afternoon, Vermont announced that Clinton County now meets the qualifications to be placed on their travel restriction list.

People traveling for essential purposes, including work, do not need to quarantine.

Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, to attend pre K-12 school and college if commuting daily, or to perform work for businesses that are currently allowed to operate.

For more information about which businesses may operate and how they may operate, view the Work Safe Guidance
State Issues Guidance for Halloween
Seasonal celebrations, like Halloween, can be an enjoyable times for kids and adults. However, some of these traditional activities can also increase the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Please see the below guidance on ways to have fun with your family and friends, while still saying safe this season. 
Cumberland 12 Gears Up For Movie-Theater Reopening
Cumberland 12 has announced a soft opening slated for Oct. 30 for concession stand to-go orders with their full theater opening with showtimes starting Nov. 4.
“Cumberland 12 will be working hard over the next couple of weeks to prepare for your return to the cinema and adhere to all NY state guidelines and requirements,” theater owners told local moviegoers Oct. 20.

The popular Route 9 theater will open for to-go orders only Friday, Oct. 30, through Sunday, Nov. 1, to help area residents with snacks and special combos to encourage at-home movie nights in anticipation of their full opening.

Though movie lineups have yet to be announced, Cumberland 12 plans to open for showings Wednesday, Nov. 4, and Thursday, Nov. 5, with full-day schedules expected for Nov. 6 through Nov. 8.

“We look forward to bringing entertainment to the North Country once again and to providing a safe and comfortable experience for all our customers and employees,” staff wrote to supporters.
Time Off to Vote - What you Need to Know
We wanted to provide a reminder regarding the state’s Time Off to Vote law, as it was subject to multiple amendments over the past several sessions, including reforms advocated for by The Business Council that were approved in this year’s state budget. New York State election law (§ 3-110) imposes several requirements on employers. All employers, regardless of size, must allow an employee up to two hours, with pay, to vote if such employee is a registered voter and “does not have sufficient time outside of his or her scheduled working hours, within which to vote on any day at which he or she may vote.” The law provides that if an four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his or her working shift, or between the end of his or her working shift and the closing of the polls, he or she is deemed to have sufficient time to vote and is not eligible for paid time off. An employee who requires time off to vote is required to notify their employer at least two days prior to election day. An employer may designate that time off must be taken either at the beginning or end of an employee’s work shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed. Given that the state has gone to ten-day advanced voting, it is unlikely that many employees will still qualify for additional paid time off to vote. Finally, not less than 10 days before election day, all employers are required to conspicuously post a notice regarding these time off provisions. (Note – many employers already satisfy this requirement as part of their general labor law postings.) The state Board of Elections has a summary of the law and a sample poster available here.
Small Business Recovery Program: Low Interest Loans Available
Coronavirus impacted small businesses in Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Warren, Washington, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties can apply for very low interest loans of up to $150,000 for the purpose of working capital related to economic injury, or future resiliency planning through the purchase of equipment, supplies and physical infrastructure upgrades.

For more information, contact Andrea Palmer, Economic Development Coordinator, at or 518.668.5773. 
November Business After Hours - Sign-ups Open
We hope you join us on Thursday, November 19th at State Farm Agency - Mike Foote.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce and State Farm Agency - Mike Foote are taking all necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment. Attendance will be limited to follow the NYS regulations, masks are to be worn at all times and social distance be respected.

Come see State Farm Agency - Mike Foote new office space, the former Kayak Shack location, and enjoy snacks, a beverage and quality networking!
Be sure to bring your business cards for the raffle.

  • Date: November 19th
  • Time: 5:30 -7

Got questions? Let us know.
DiNAPOLI: Halfway Through the Year and Revenue Hole Persists
Halfway through the state’s fiscal year, state tax receipts are trailing last year by $2.8 billion, according to the September State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“COVID-19 had a significant negative effect on the first half of the state’s fiscal year,” DiNapoli said. “The pandemic has created a profound degree of uncertainty, but one thing is clear – Washington must get its act together and help states and local governments weather this economic storm. The state Division of the Budget’s mid-year Financial Plan update and the official start of next year’s budget process in early November will provide a clearer picture for policymakers as they prepare to address our budget shortfall.”
State tax revenues totaled $8.8 billion in September, $922.3 million higher than the latest projections by the state Division of the Budget (DOB). Total tax revenues in September were a net $364.1 million higher than those in 2019, primarily due to a $440 million increase in personal income tax collections resulting partly from an additional day in September of withholding collections and lower refunds.

September sales tax revenues were down from 2019 by $88 million. That drop of 5.4 percent was the lowest monthly decline for sales tax since the fiscal year began in April. However, year-to-date sales tax collections are still 17.2 percent lower than the same period last year. 

Federal revenues through September totaled $42.7 billion, up by $10.7 billion from the same period a year earlier. Among the reasons for the increase is the $5.1 billion the state has received from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. While the U.S. Treasury Department has provided greater flexibility for state and local governments’ use of those resources in recent weeks, the extent to which such aid may offset declining state revenues remains unclear. In addition, federal Medicaid matching funding has been temporarily increased, and the state received $3.8 billion in funding for the federal Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program that was not part of collections last year.

In State Operating Funds (not including federal or capital), spending through the first six months totaled $44.7 billion, $4.3 billion, or 8.8 percent lower than last year. This was $681.7 million higher than anticipated in the Financial Plan, primarily due to local assistance grants in September.

As of Sept. 30, the General Fund held a balance of $15.4 billion, $1.6 billion higher than projected, and $6.4 billion higher than last year at the same time. The higher balance is driven partly by $4.4 billion in short-term borrowing that DOB anticipates repaying before the end of the fiscal year, as well as higher than projected tax receipts.

The “Quick Start” budget process framed in New York’s State Finance Law requires representatives of the governor, legislative leaders and the comptroller to meet annually before Nov. 15 to jointly review available financial information to help with timely adoption of a budget for the next fiscal year. They are also required to report on estimated state receipts and disbursements for the current and ensuing fiscal years by Nov. 5.
  • Forward NY: Official State Website for opening procedures and guidelines.

  • Looking for Supplies: If your business is looking for hard to find protective products, we have created a list of businesses offering hand sanitizer, gloves, wipes, masks and other items.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
To help the North Country reopen safely and meet the state and local mandates, The North Country Chamber of Commerce has created a comprehensive list of resources to navigate state and local requirements. Check out the home page for details. There is also a series of webinars available for businesses to help educate and provide answers to common questions.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce