Businesses Help Fund Higher Education Through Voluntary Scholarships

High School graduation is upon us, and area chambers of commerce are presenting some valuable scholarships to distinguished local students. For example, the Brewster, Cold Spring and Patterson chambers have various scholarships, the Carmel-Kent Chamber is giving three $1000 awards, and the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber has awarded a total of $16,000 funded by the direct contributions of member businesses. The selection criteria for such scholarships varies, and is determined by committees who review the various candidates.

Some consideration these days is being given to young adults who have chosen community college or a trade as opposed to a four-year school. Not everyone is destined to get an MBA and become a major corporation executive.  Someone needs to learn the hands-on, practical skills to build homes, cars, devices, and work in the trades or in a factory.   Also, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of our economy; and those folks come from an eclectic background of early experiences.

It makes sense that we as business people should encourage interest in the trades, for small business and industry.   Trades are looking for motivated employees who are not “institutional education” inclined, but in today’s real world additional technical training and basic business practices are necessary for success. Chambers of commerce everywhere are searching for appropriate apprenticeship programs in cooperation with unions and trades groups.

A thought about the Minimum Wage: while it may be advisable to consider a higher standard for entry level employees, we must consider the impact of a minimum wage increase on small businesses, especially smaller manufacturing companies which struggle to compete globally, and seasonal businesses. Incorrect application of the minimum wage standard may make it impossible for some businesses to compete with entry level jobs which require less rigorous training and commitment on the part of workers, leading to less available jobs in the long run.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


The Business Community’s Unsung Heroes – Making A Difference Every Day

The role of the local small business community in building our economy is well documented, but its only one part of the story.   Oftentimes, the generosity, volunteerism and community involvement of our business owners and their employees goes completely unnoticed, and the reward is simply the knowledge that someone was helped or our hometowns were made just a little bit better for all.

As an example of the quiet, unsung good works of our business community members, consider Kenny Hogan of Kenny’s Carpet One in Carmel.   Kenny donates flooring for houses for seriously wounded veterans and was just awarded a plaque with a piece of the Twin Towers as a token of thanks from the organization that builds the houses. This is especially poignant given the recent Memorial Day holiday. Other Carmel business owners such as Henry Boyd of Boyd Artesian Well Co. and George Hartshorn, Jr. of Hartshorn Paving gave their time and equipment, in addition to monetary donations, to help build the Imagination Station for area youth.   Nearby in Mahopac, The DeCola family of Xpress Printing on Route 6 is well known for its generosity in supporting school teams and clubs, area nonprofits, and the local chamber of commerce.

Not inclined to “toot their own horn”, these businesspeople do it for the sake of the community. They realize that every one of us is an integral part of not only our local economy but the very fabric of our society.   Businesses generate the revenue necessary to support not only the owners and their employees but the many charitable causes they hold dear. Americans have a unique propensity for the principle of “voluntary association”, which brings people together for a common cause and purpose.   We are blessed to have businesspeople who assemble not just for selfish reasons, but to make our world a better place.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


Consolidated Funding Workshop Returns to Putnam County on May 27

The 2015 CFA program will be announced at the Putnam County Training Operations Building at the Donald B. Smith Campus, 112 Old Route 6, Carmel, on May 27 from 3-6PM, in a collaborative session hosted by the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation, the Putnam County Planning, Development and Public Transportation Department in conjunction with Pace University Land Use Law Center and supported by the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce. Former Putnam EDC President Meghan Taylor will present the information about the current CFA, followed by a question and answer session. Immediately following, the Land Use Law Center will facilitate a dialogue over funding priorities and grant opportunity collaborations for 2015 Consolidated Funding., based on ideas discussed in workshops held during March.

According to a letter signed jointly by Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker, Putnam Chambers President Bill Nulk, and Putnam EDC Chair Jeff Kellogg, it is also hoped that the event “will open a dialog amongst local communities to discuss ways to develop joint applications in support of some of the priority projects that span more than one municipality and include opportunities for public-private partnerships.” This is a great idea because in order to be successful we need our community leaders and elected officials to not only come to the meeting but formulate plans and ask for the money needed to facilitate Putnam County’s economic growth agenda in the years ahead.

As County Executive Maryellen Odell says, “You have to be in it to win it, but even more so, you have to be in it smart.” By working together and coupling businesses and municipalities, we likely will get a better share of a larger pie when the next round of awards are announced. We at the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce urge area officials to actively participate in this process and help this effort succeed.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


Creating An Effective Economic Development Plan For Each Community

It feels like I have been talking about this subject for years. Well, that’s because we have! So I am very excited to know that the Mahopac Carmel Chamber of Commerce recently began talks with the Town of Carmel to develop an action plan in conjunction with the Putnam County Economic Development Corporation and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, to create a strong vibrant and inviting community that reflects its diversity, history and culture. By encouraging strong relationships between residents, the Town, businesses, educators, non-profits, and our faith based community, its mission plans to foster a balanced approach to revitalization effort of our downtown areas in the Hamlets of Carmel and Mahopac. We believe by establishing long term private and public partnerships; the Town of Carmel will accomplish the goals and vision for a better place to live, work, play and raise families.

The Task Force will work towards the goals of creating economic value for the business district  of lake Mahopac and greater Carmel area, focusing on the existing downtown core and redeveloping underutilized locations; creating jobs and career opportunities for Town residents; providing net positive tax revenue to the Town and school district; providing a vibrant downtown; restoring and maintaining the Town as a regional destination; fostering a sense of safety and security; capitalizing on existing tourist destinations; providing a mixed-use downtown setting; improving streetscapes and creating a pedestrian friendly “walkable” environment; achieving the adaptive reuse of vacant buildings where appropriate; and creating sustainable development by implementing smart growth and green building design elements in an economically viable plan.

The Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, in its Legislative Priorities 2015, highlights the “need to develop a County-wide Master Plan encompassing the Local Municipalities for a total look at where we are and what we plan for the future.”  And to “communicate the concepts of modern sub-urban/rural development in an area that is increasingly being brought into the Metropolitan ‘Megapolis’”.

To be successful towns will need to employ a variety of concepts in order to develop the plans and engage the community, ensuring reasonable standards for planning, zoning, sign ordinances and other regulations.  This should be emulated everywhere in Putnam County.  Each town is different, so methods and results will also differ; still the reasons for doing so remain the same.  And the sense of urgency has never been greater – it’s time to enact real, positive change to Putnam County’s commerce districts.

We can simply follow the lead of the village of Brewster who is moving full steam ahead with “Envision Brewster” which really paved the path for all municipalities to follow.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce



Pushing Putnam’s Economic Agenda Forward

Putnam County’s upcoming PCCC- EDC breakfast (Tuesday, May 5, 8-10AM at Putnam County Golf Course) will highlight opportunities and evaluate progress made towards stated goals. With the President position still unfilled after Meghan Taylor’s departure, there is some uncertainty as to where to go next, but also the realization of a chance to make our premier economic development organization all that it can be in directing the future of our business building efforts.

EDC- type organizations all across New York have been under scrutiny as to their effectiveness and various solutions have been implemented ranging from government takeover to realignment with other organizations or public-private partnerships. At the same time, the competitive nature of the economic development process means that potential opportunities are coming at us and need to be cultivated. So we must look at these issues, but look at them quickly, because the next round of the statewide CFA process is upon us.

Now is the time to be prepared for the 2015 Consolidated Funding Application process which will be announced shortly. This process has become the primary route for New York State funding under the Cuomo Administration and the Mid-Hudson Region is competing in the top-tier for the largest piece of the pie. Municipalities and businesses, working together in private-public partnerships, are given greater consideration when plans for job-creating, tourism-boosting projects are presented. Infrastructure and revitalization programs as well as innovative development and expansion projects have received substantial funding over the last three years, but the presentation must be well thought out and align with the parameters specified in the annual awards announcement. We have a good general idea of what this year’s goals will be as defined by New York State leaders, and will undoubtedly get a better handle on them – if not the official announcement- during former EDC President Meghan Taylor’s appearance at the May 5th breakfast.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


Economic Development Breakfast To Highlight Region’s Opportunities

As the area’s economy continues on the rise, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce will be hosting a breakfast on Tuesday, May 5th, from 8-10 AM, at the Putnam County Golf Course to look at opportunities and evaluate progress made towards stated goals. The Putnam County Economic Development Corporation is sponsoring the breakfast.

On the agenda is former Putnam EDC President Meghan Taylor in her new role as Director of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council will be giving pointers on submitting applications for regional funds through the competitive CFA (Collective Funding Application) process. Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress President/CEO Jonathan Drapkin will be sharing insight into the region’s business climate. Drapkin will be joined by March Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer for this Newburgh-based not-for-profit policy, planning, advocacy and research organization. Their presentation is on changes to the region comparing the pre great recession period to where we find ourselves today in 2015. The presentation is referred to as Pattern on the Road. Also at the event, representatives from Senator Terrence P. Murphy’s office will discuss the recently announced Small Business Regulatory Watch reported on last week. For more information on the Economic Development Breakfast please contact the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce at (845) 228-8595, or visit

 – Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


Small Business Regulatory Watch To Warn Of Government-Created Pitfalls

State Senator Terrence P. Murphy, Chairman of the State Administrative Rules and Regulations Commission (ARRC), has established a small business regulatory watch to make fellow small business owners (he owns 2) aware of rules which can adversely affect them. This was in response to New York consistently being ranked 49th on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

“Unelected rule makers create layers of bureaucracy which prohibit growth and ultimately prevent jobs from being created,” said Senator Murphy. “My goal is to improve the communication and transparency of government with my fellow business owners. New York needs to reinvest in Main Street.” Departments, divisions, offices, authorities and commissions are constantly making and remaking rules which have a huge impact on businesses, and few business owners realize they have the opportunity to comment on and potentially impact these proposals. Senator Murphy’s new publication will help shine light on what up until now has been a largely behind-closed-doors process.

John Ravitz, executive vice president and COO of the Business Council of Westchester, added, “Rulemaking is rarely advertised by Albany politicians, mainly because most of the rules are often-times job killers. Having a strong line of communication between a member of the legislature and the business community is crucial. For Senator Murphy to launch this program within his first three months of taking office proves his desire of making economic development a priority here in Westchester.”

The ARRC Small Business Regulatory Watch will release an email newsletter highlighting certain rules and regulations that could increase burdens on businesses. Murphy hopes to educate small business owners about State and federal regulatory processes as published in the New York State Register, New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, the Federal Register, and the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Says Murphy, “It is time government offers a hand to Main Street and help folks who are trying to run or start a business.” I couldn’t agree more.

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce


Shop Putnam Expo Set For April 19

The business community of Putnam County and the surrounding area has a great annual event to help businesses large and small network with each other and with residents of our area. The annual Shop Putnam Expo is returning to Mahopac this month with a wide selection of local businesses and organizations on display to the public. The event will take place on Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 11am – 4PM at the Mahopac High School, 421 Baldwin Place Road, Mahopac NY 10541, with over 100 local businesses, professionals and nonprofits showcasing their wares.

“The Shop Putnam Expo is one of the longest lasting Expos for small business owners and professionals in the region,” says Michael Bucci, CEO/Executive Director of the Greater MahopacCarmel Chamber of Commerce. “The Expo attracts thousands per year and is an EXCELLENT way to meet your current and future customers, face to face.” Bill Pope, owner of The Positive Zone and Chairman of the Expo Committee, adds “It’s all about creating an environment where local businesses can showcase their products, services and personalities… in order to give the community an opportunity to shop local.”

The Shop Putnam Expo was developed in its current form in 2004, a revival of earlier successful events from the 1990s. All Putnam County and northern Westchester businesses and residents are invited to be part of this great celebration of economic vitality in our community. Exhibitors will also have their information listed for one full year on the website. Sponsorship opportunities are still available as well. More information is available through or by calling either Mike or Terry at the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce at (845) 6285553 or by email at . If you are looking to exhibit your business at a popular regional event, one of the largest of its kind, then don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce

Check out the 2015 Shop Putnam Business and Home Expo below.


The First Ever Putnam County Chambers Legislative Priorities Booklet Released

Your countywide chamber of commerce has released its first 2015 Legislative Priorities booklet, giving residents, business owners and elected officials an opportunity to review the issues of greatest concern in a concise, clear format. We believe this will help achieve quicker resolutions to the pressing needs affecting the economic prosperity of Putnam County.

The booklet is divided into several sections, providing background plus detailing of issues at the county, state and federal levels. Highlights of county legislative concerns include the need for a Master Plan, continued simplification of the approvals/disapprovals processes, reduction of the county sales tax to a more competitive level (Putnam’s taxes are higher than most surrounding counties) and a renegotiation of the Watershed Agreement with New York City that places onerous regulations limiting the uses of much of our county’s available land.

On a state level, fiscal reform continues to be a lead issue, with laws such as the Scaffold and Wicks laws needing to be repealed and other measures improved in order to provide proper safeguards for workers while removing needless impediments to getting the work done efficiently and cost effectively. Health Care remains a concern because of state mandates in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act, as does the expensive 18-a surcharge on energy bills which is a major deterrent to manufacturers and other large businesses locating in the region. Economic Development issues abound, mainly centered on the use of IDAs, however there remains strong support for the Economic Development Council model which is a hallmark of Governor Cuomo’s administration.

At the Federal level, the Affordable Care Act continues to burden small business, and we are committed to minimizing any negative effects while helping entrepreneurs and employees get access to the best health care possible.

The release of this booklet is a huge step forward for the business community. The system only works if we are communicative and watchful with the officials we elect. We look to the business community to be involved. For more information contact the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce President/CEO Bill Nulk at (845) 228-8595 or for a copy of our 2015 Legislative Priorities Booklet by clicking HERE.


Annual Elected Officials Forum Shows Effectiveness Of Business Advocacy

Elected officials and business leaders have once again met in a non-partisan atmosphere of communication and collaboration to help shape the future of Putnam County’s business community and enhance the quality of life for all of us who make our home here. The need to bring more businesses into Putnam County is always a major part of these discussions. The conversation centered around the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce’s legislative agenda and also the issues and potentials regarding economic growth and the business climate individually and collectively. Representatives from the offices of Senators Serino and Murphy, and Assemblyman Katz’s office, Sandy Galef, Under Sheriff Peter Convery, County executive MaryEllen Odell and several of our County Legislators were in attendance, as well as officials from the towns of Patterson, Southeast, Carmel, Kent and Putnam Valley and the Village of Brewster. This strong showing of community leaders makes it possible to share ideas on a sizable scale that includes all of Putnam County’s business interests, and to explore ideas that will be most effective in moving the county forward.
Building the future of Putnam County is a team effort. We need to look at the opportunities together and develop those ideas which are most likely to succeed in bringing solid businesses to the area, providing jobs and so-called rate-ables to our economy. We have the talent, the history and the raw materials to prosper,working together we will lead our communities into an even brighter future. The identification of properties that could be developed/re-purposed into viable homes for commercial establishments, recreation, arts and culture needs to be pursued aggressively. Vacant commercial spaces need to be a priority! Each town should take a proactive stance in looking at such opportunities to attract the right mix of businesses, cultural organizations and recreational establishments.
The Putnam County Chambers of Commerce is the voice of business throughout the various towns and villages of our county. Together with the participating local chambers of commerce we can make so much happen for good. So please consider getting involved! For more information contact President/CEO Bill Nulk at (845) 228-8595 or
– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce