Is the Government Shutdown Shutting Down Small Business?

We are in the midst of the longest so-called “Government Shutdown” in history, the lack of appropriations affecting a sizeable portion of Federal workers and offices.  The Small Business Administration stopped processing new loans on Dec. 22.  President Trump has said the shutdown could last “months or even years,” a scenario that is having an impact on banks and business owners. From the Washington Post, “As we are hearing every day from businesses across the country, the adverse consequences of the shutdown are wide and growing,” wrote Neil Bradley, executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a letter Tuesday to Congress. “With each passing day, the situation will only get worse.”.

In the real estate industry, we are noticing a lag in FHA loans closing in a timely manner, likely due to far fewer employees to process the loan. Any special loans will not be approved as there is no one in the FHA to approve them. The impact on the housing industry will likely linger for some time. With employers struggling this will likely discourage home buyers to take the leap. Brewers are struggling with the inability to get new beers approved, because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is closed.

Government contracts will not be paid, hurting the small businesses that served them. Federal employees are literally without pay which will surely affect the Main Street businesses in areas that house a lot of federal employees.  Consumer spending confidence will surely be down and will impact us locally.

This shutdown is, ironically, one of the few bipartisan activities to come out of Washington in recent years.  So far neither party has blinked, while America waits for its government to resolve this and the underlying issue that led to the impasse remains. Let’s pray a resolution comes about swiftly.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Business Council, “A business advocacy group”


The “Logistics” Of Prosperity For Putnam County

On Monday July 9th at 7PM, there will be a Town Board Work Session and presentation on a large project proposed for Southeast, held at the Town of Southeast Courthouse, 1360 Route 22, Brewster, NY. The proposal by Northeast Logistics, a refrigerated trucking company out of Oregon, is over 1.1 million square feet of warehouse/distribution space in four separate buildings. The project is located on Pugsley Road off Route 312, abutting Tilly Foster Farm.

The proposed Northeast Interstate Logistics Center would include four buildings ranging in size from 173,775 to 366,404 square feet, amendments to the Town of Southeast zoning map and zoning ordinance, modification to two ridgelines located within the Ridgeline Protection Overlay District, and re-subdivide 156 tax parcels into 5.  Another lot would also be created with a lot line adjustment.  The proposed buildings would be located on proposed Lots 1, 2, and 3; Lot 4 would remain vacant except for potable water wells; Lot 5 would be donated to Putnam County for new access to Tilly Foster Farm and potential related uses; and Lot 6 deeded to the New York State Department of Transportation to accommodate traffic improvements that would be constructed as part of the Proposed Project.

The scope of the project is quite large, however its location right off I-84 is perfect.  Concerns are rightly being raised over environmental impacts, traffic and other potential quality of life issues; however all are encouraged to attend the meetings and gather the facts before forming an opinion.  How many jobs will be created? What will the rateables be, helping the Town of Southeast as well as the county? What are the proposed traffic improvements? How many employees will travel into the county to shop and dine here?  Can this project help in the success of Tilly Foster Farm by bringing in companies who can help support environmental preservation efforts as part of their corporate responsibility programs?

This project’s potential to bring business to the county should be studied.  With Patterson Crossing teetering after decades of controversy and discussions, let’s learn our lesson and get involved early. A vocal minority of NIMBYs are influencing economic development in our county due to a lack of interest from the community at large.  We need to welcome new business to this county in order to sustain our economy, and it can be done in an environmentally as well as economically sustainable manner.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


Economic Development from Ground Up

Putnam County Economic Development ( PCEDC) President Jill Varricchio has been talking up a “Business accelerator” program for Putnam County. She says “as a catalyst for thoughtful economic development and being familiar with the evolution of the Orange County Accelerator, I found an entry point to bring to Putnam County a similar model. I brought the idea to my board”.

According to Varricchio, a decision was reached after the PCEDC 2016  stakeholders ‘retreat’ to explore the idea. The idea was presented to Putnam County representatives from from the planning department, the Putnam County Industrial Agency, as well as their directors who all  confirmed, the concept had merit The “International” theme was then identified.

Timing would have it that Juan Carlos Salcedo, international consultant with 30 years working globally, was transitioning his business and offered his site in Philipstown  for the 10,000 Sq Ft needed for the 8 “Pods” or work space.   The 8 Pods would be incubating successful startup businesses with tools and resources from different industries to “ accelerate” their start up business. If we follow in Orange County’s footsteps, such industries as Artisan food manufacturing, Fashion design, medical devices and software development etc….

Along with the Putnam county team the PCEDC has been working with Vinnie Cozzolino of The Orange Accelerator Galileo Technology, along with Juan Carlos Salcedo to  coordinate the start up, outline specific details of the program and its marketing plan and revenue goal. The idea is to identify and qualify the overseas businesses with a track record of success with a current business plan  that reflects their aim to bring their goods and services into this country.

The Accelerator will nurture their growth through an array of  services,assist with their expansion and then escort them through to the natural next step, i.e. match them to Putnam County assets.  be it leasing, buying, or building as well as collaborating to locate the very best talent for their business.

PC IDA President Bill Nulk saysThe proposed Economic Development Accelerator in Philipstown is an enhancement of the “incubator” projects popular is many areas.  The big difference is that it works with companies that have successfully gone through the startup phase and are ready to expand in to new markets and greater production.  The building on route 9 in Philipstown is well suited for the layout design of the facility and the proposed management of the operation has a good track record with similar projects. The proximity and access to Stewart Airport Interstates 84, 87, 80 and 95 is an obvious distribution asset and the convenience to the many attractions of the New York Metropolitan Area make Route 9 in Philipstown an inviting location.”

While we would to well enticing promising businesses to develop and then stay in our County, we must also work at all levels of government to provide the infrastructure they, and all of us, need for our future – waste and water systems, modern internet and telecommunication access. Without that, we will be incubating businesses to move elsewhere.


Stages of Networking

Networking…it can either be the most powerful part of building your business or it can be your biggest time waster! Becoming more purposeful in one’s networking efforts is crucial. Here is a useful system to try.

Prior to even stepping into any event or networking situation, identify who you want to network with. Who are they? How do they dress? What do they drive? How can they help you? Once identified, you will be more successful in networking with the right people and engaging them in a long term, fruitful relationship. The next step is to share a few meaningful snippets from your business that will impress and set you apart from your competition.

Do not start flinging your business card around! I know it’s counterintuitive but this is crucial! Ask for their info and set a time to follow up, and make sure you do so at the exact time you said you would. At this point you should set a face to face, one on one meeting. This is where you really build trust and rapport!  Be prepared and understand your needs so people can connect you and help you in your journey. For some people giving is easier than taking and for others taking is easy and giving is impossible. Successful business networking is a give-and-take. Give referrals, make introductions and help others. Be open to accepting the help of others without feeling guilty of accepting. This and helping others without feeling resentful when you give but don’t get back as expected is the key to successful networking, building confidence that business networking is a viable key to growth.

After the meeting, take time to connect to this person on social media. This will synergize your relationship. Also send a handwritten note. Add this person to your database and schedule your follow-up. Some ideas for follow up are: newsletters, client and ally appreciation events, face to face meetings, calls, birthday cards, etc. Just be sure to stay in touch so you stay top of mind!

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


Announcing the 2018 Trailblazer Awards

The recipients of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce 2018 Trailblazers – Women in Leadership awards are in!!!  We are still fact checking and verifying names, place of business etc., but wanted to get the list to you hot off the presses!  This year, we strongly felt every single nominee was worthy of recognition, so if you nominated someone and their name does NOT appear, please reach out as soon as possible!  Complete bios and information will be up on our website by June 1, so please join us in celebrating and recognizing these amazing women!

The “Women in Leadership” of 2018 to be recognized are: Nohemi Bao, Marykate Acquisto, Tara Caroll, Carol Schmitz, Stacey Tompkins, Tallie Carter, Patty Turco, Megan Castellano, Josephine Carmody, Claire Tsakanikas, Candice Sciarrillo, Rita O’Brien,  Terry Raskyn,  Elizabeth Hudak, Beth Ann Lewis, Roberta Velichko, Irene Rohde, Jessica Vanacoro, Eileen Reilly, Ellen Hayes, Andrea Rudkowski, Katherine Doherty, Amy Sayegh, MaryEllen Odell, Barbara Reitz, Nicole Barile- Stern, Tracey Walsh, Brittany Alvarez,  Patty Rathschmidt, Sabine Cknazik, Jen Zwarich, Rose Aglieco, Christi Acker, Hailey Knox, Kate Liberman, Jill Varricchio.

The sole purpose of the Trailblazer awards is to highlight, showcase and celebrate Putnam County businesses, not for profits, and those who support the business community.  Women in leadership is an extra special award to recognize women who blaze the trail and go above and beyond in their work, volunteerism and  community while balancing life and family. Please Join us on June 12, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Villa Barone to recognize these women at the county’s largest networking event! Sponsorship and journal ads available We will have one hour of networking, lunch and a keynote speaker, Jennifer Ostrega.  Ms. Ostrega is a spokesperson, writer, and teacher based in the New York City area. Formally a comedic improvisational actor who gained national recognition for her one-woman show about corporate America.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”



Elected Officials Forum Brings Smart Dialog To The Table

This past April 15th was the annual Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials Forum.  Each year town/village, county, state and federal level officials are invited to discuss the overall business climate, economic development, and our legislative priorities for the upcoming year.

Some very honest conversations took place.  Cost of permitting and development in area towns were discussed, including an example of a Putnam Valley individual who will pay $9,000 for a building permit of ONE single family home, in addition to other costly fees. In the town of Carmel site plan updates require payment of the entire fee again. Everyone at the table realized that we should be encouraging new homeowners and especially new commercial development to come to our county.

Regarding commercial development, Town of Kent supervisor Fleming was asked about Patterson Crossing.  Ms. Fleming responded that, while she was now supportive, many people are believed to not be in favor.  Historically, the Town of Kent so vehemently opposed the project that they will only get a parking lot as a rateable should it come to fruition.  Kent councilman Bill Huestis and Supervisor Fleming both spoke of a possible hotel and truck stop coming to the Route 52/311 corridor – it would be interesting to see if those against Patterson Crossing would accept this.   A proposed water park got a positive reception.  Patterson was represented by Supervisor Rich Williams who is focused on pushing Patterson Crossing to the finish line. Lynne Eckhart and John Lord of Southeast spoke of projects being pushed through and then not performing and being left vacant.

Town of Carmel Supervisor Schmitt discussed the downtown Mahopac revitalization and parking project.   The Village of Brewster was not represented, but “Envision Brewster” was mentioned as a good example of county and local government working together scoring a $180k hotspot grant as well as the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s support role. Barbara Scuccimarra was the only representative from Philipstown.  We hope to increase communications between east and west in upcoming years. Putnam Valley was well represented by Supervisor Oliverio, legislator Bill Gouldman and councilwoman Annabi. and discussed the need for water and sewer and huge progress on the town shuttle to take Putnam Valley residents to the train.

County Executive Odell reported on some positive work with the NYC DEP, and its effect on Envision Brewster, Tilly Foster, and the sewer projects in Carmel and Southeast.  Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Matt Slater of Terrance Murphy’s office and Senator Serino’s office all discussed the difficult budgets and commitment to bringing money in for needed infrastructure and improved roads.  Putnam County District Attorney Bob Tendy offered good insight from his past Supervisor role.

In this successful forum, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce sought to allow participants from all levels of involvement to freely discuss the important issues from an economic development standpoint and consider options for working together to address them.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


“Women In Leadership” Nominations Being Sought For Annual Trailblazer Awards

The nominations are open and pouring in! We are looking for “Women in Leadership” to be honored and recognized at our annual Trailblazer awards. Seven-plus years ago The Putnam County Chamber of Commerce decided that the Trailblazer awards was a great way to highlight and showcase Putnam County’s businesses and not-for-profit organizations.  The Trailblazer event has been a major event over the years, and participants throughout the county have been recognized for their hard work in helping grow our economy or making life better for local residents.

There are many benefits to a business participating in an awards event, most prominently a lot of free marketing.  The positive PR from an award alone can give a company validity and name recognition. Also, the application process for entering a business award can often force entrepreneurs and business owners to look at their business from a different perspective and assess how it stacks up against the competition.  Company morale is usually up as well when a business or employee is being recognized for everyone’s hard work.   Such notoriety can be helpful for attracting talent. A business award win, or even nomination can act as a 3rd party endorsement for your business. It’s a great way of differentiating a company from competitors, will send out good vibes to potential clients and customers, and the bragging rights last forever!

Being that County Executive Maryellen Odell has named 2018 “Year of the Volunteer”, I am sure we will see some amazing women from the non-business sectors as well.  So get your nominations in! Also check out the sponsor opportunities and information on purchasing tickets. The event is June 12th, from 11:30 to 2 P.M. at Villa Barone Hilltop Manor, 466 Route 6, Mahopac. Please visit and submit your nominations today!

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


Economic Development Impact of New York’s 2018 Budget

The new state budget has been approved, and with it a host of economic development features that may be of interest to the local business and legislative community. Here are some highlights:

Middle class taxes will continue to go down, in a phased in strategy between now and 2025.   This will affect income earners between $40,000 and $300,000. The state will also develop an alternative Employer Compensation Expense Program aimed at reducing personal income tax on wages that might be affected by the new Federal tax plan. The state tax code will also be decoupled from the Federal code in places where increases might automatically be necessary under the new Federal program.

Funds will be made available for workforce investments to support strategic regional efforts to meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long term needs of expanding industries such as clean energy and technology.   This is aimed at helping the workforce of tomorrow find opportunities today to grow and prosper, and hopefully stay here in New York State rather than seeking careers elsewhere.

Regional economic development councils will be continued for the eighth year, with a wide range of programs totaling $750 million. There will also be $100 million allocated for the Downtown Revitalization Program Round III. The Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit will be extended, and there will be expanded investment in areas as far ranging as Photonics (Rochester), Life Sciences (Capital Region), the Olympic Regional Development Authority and lodging/tourism (North Country) and Industrial Hemp production (Southern Tier). The MWBE Program, which was due to expire this year, has been extended for FY2019.

The Environmental Protection Fund will continue receiving massive resources ($300 million), and there will be continued investment in clean water infrastructure and the completion of the Hudson River Park in New York City. Increased funds will support higher education, combat the opioid epidemic, improve public safety, repair and upgrade transportation infrastructure, and combat homelessness and sexual abuse.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


Ensuring Reliable Power Delivery For Putnam County

On Thursday, March 15 County Executive Maryellen Odell presented a State of the County Address with a loud and clear message that our county is fiscally strong and responsible. It was a lengthy event which included an update on the County response to the double-fisted storms and power outages we experienced. Infrastructure has been one of Odell’s priorities ever since she took office. It is obvious that water and sewer is sorely needed to develop and support economic growth, yet the state of our power supply is appalling to say the least. Was the reaction time of New York State Electric and Gas a factor?

According to Odell, the County took all the right precautions for the storm, yet crews were sitting around for days waiting for NYSEG to identify the live wires so roads could be cleared. This is unacceptable. Personally, I found it extremely difficult. 6 days of no power at my home or office. A week of no school. I am blessed however to be able to work from the car, if need be. Other local businesses however did not have it so easy. Many local business owners have stated losses of anywhere of $4,000 to $40,000 in income and damaged inventory.

8 days after the initial power outage, power went out again for a few hours in downtown Mahopac during prime time on a Saturday afternoon. Shops were full of clients. One local restaurant had a party of 125 that had just walked in. The damage and the loss are one thing. The loss of momentum is another. Area elected officials plan to hold NYSEG accountable. This was not only an inconvenience but also affects the value of properties and businesses in our area. People will surely think twice about locating in an area where power outages for over 24 hours have become common. NYSEG should address these concerns, and a more comprehensive plan for backup power should be put in place at the local level.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”


Diligence in Planning About to Pay Off

The Putnam County Chamber of Commerce board members have been bringing to the forefront key issues for nearly 10 years. We recently put together a County Planning task force to drill down and implement. Here are some highlights of our efforts:

County Chamber Planning: Meetings will be held with the County Executive, Planning board and various legislators to see what plans are being developed or on the punch list. This will give not only a sense of priorities, but also an overview of a county vision. Then we will go to local municipalities to discuss their current plans, a potential update of their Master Plans in line with the county plan, and identify where the county can provide support.

Mahopac-Carmel Planning: With the proposed Swan Cove Park and subsequent Tompkins Mahopac Bank lot, the downtown Hamlet of Mahopac has a starting point for revitalization. After contracts are settled, the Chamber has discussed conducting a roundtable discussion of all local business & building owners in an open discussion of redeveloping the business districts. The sidewalk/lighting project can finally be finished and improved upon, and parallel parking should be introduced with wider sidewalks adorned with planters and/or art, kiosks and benches.

Envision Brewster: Here is a great example of collaboration between the Village, Putnam County, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Pattern for Progress and the EDC all working together to achieve results. This is the type of planning and action that we would love to see in all municipalities. A forum is planned for for town and village elected officials so we can catch up with the entire county. Long term strategic planning has been a buzz word in the county for a long time, and in 2017, under the leadership of MaryEllen Odell, Putnam has aggressively gone after funding and is starting to succeed. Let’s keep this momentum moving forward!

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”