ALBANY - The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce is accenting what it saw as some opportunities for the North Country in Gov. David Paterson's State of the State address Jan. 7.
"The governor continued to keep us focused on the tough fiscal realities our state is facing," stated chamber president Garry F. Douglas. "But, he also identified some tangible pathways forward that we need to embrace."
Douglas attended the State of the State message and planned to remain in Albany for two days of follow-up meetings with state officials.
"First and foremost, we need to put our state's financial house in order. The governor is continuing to do the tough job of telling us just how bad the state deficit is and how hard the decisions are going to be," stated Douglas. "We can and will debate many of the details of his already released budget, but that debate must be within the framework of urgency stressed by the governor and must be grasped as an opportunity to right-size and reform many aspects of state government. The governor has invited all of us to join in this debate and to reach a responsible conclusion by April 1."
On the economic development front, Douglas noted the governor's main goal is to position New York State as a leader in green energy and clean technology.
"The Quebec-New York Green Corridor initiative which we signed at the recent summit in Montreal with the endorsement of the governor puts our region on the playing field as the state and federal governments both move to shift more economic development emphasis to this sector," noted Douglas. "Discussions with several partners are already actively underway and we will be ready in a matter of weeks to offer a multi-faceted plan on how we can be a part of this strategy."
Douglas noted the governor has also charged Empire State Development with identifying "transformational projects" upstate, focusing limited state resources on those economic development ventures which can have the greatest impact.
"We have already identified a few such opportunities in the North Country in discussions with Empire State Development and the governor's office," Douglas noted, "and are pleased with the support and receptiveness we are receiving."
In other matters, the chamber is also endorsing the governor's proposal to facilitate health insurance access for young people aged 19-29.
"The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber [of Commerce] has a longstanding commitment to reducing the ranks of the uninsured," Douglas said," and this is a prime audience we need to lure into insured status. They make up an estimated 31 percent of the uninsured population, but are also the healthiest segment which means their inclusion in the pool can actually help everyone."