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


Annual Trailblazer Awards Bring Out The Business Crowd

The Putnam County business community once again celebrated its growing stature in style at Villa Barone this past February 26, honoring 39 nominees and giving local business men and women a chance to shine in front of their peers. Nearly 250 people attended this marquee event, from every community across the county.

Keynote speaker Putnam County Executive Maryellen Odell expressed her excitement at seeing such strong representation from the business community, noting that “spotlighting business leaders and Putnam’s burgeoning talent is a terrific way to spread the word that we are a County on the move, with a strong, forward focus.” She added, “it was important to take advantage of this, the largest networking opportunity for our businesses throughout the year, and working together, government and business leaders can make a strong, tangible difference in future economic development in Putnam County”.

The following people were chosen for the honors: Brewster – Dr. Anne Brandon, Katherine Fairfield Freston, Carla Churyk, Carlo Marano, Wendy Wulkan; Carmel – Gary Brunner, Joe Bulzacchelli, Daniel C. Doyle, DMD, Jonathan W. Garcia, Kathy Hartshorn, Ryan Healy, Douglas Holly, Lisa Kaslyn, Margherita Morrocho, Dorothy Olson, Amit Patel, Timothy Plummer, Anthony Porto, Sr., Fausto Quezada, William Sampson, Charles P. Stein, CPA, Dorothy Visconti, William Zacotinsky; Cold Spring – Abigail Adams, Jillian Bono-Kelly, Stephen Ives, David Lilburne; Kent – Glenn Palmieri; Mahopac – Anthony Campanella, Therese Fokine, Dan Iarussi, Timothy O’Keefe, Thomas O’Leary, Grace Pietrosanti, Dr. Linda Silbert, Alana Sweeny, Stephanie Tomlinson; Putnam Valley – Lisa Montalto Rodrigues, Glenn R. Niese.

Now more than ever it’s time to get involved with the Putnam County business community, by joining vibrant local chambers and/or the robust countywide organization that has been rapidly advancing our county’s stature among its New York State peers. For more information visit

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


Assessing The Business Community’s Impact On Putnam’s Economics

Recently, after input from local businesses led by representatives of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce, The Carmel/Kent Chamber of Commerce and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce, the Town of Carmel decided to reconsider a proposal that would have enacted a sign ordinance that many feel would have severely hampered commerce in the town. This was a great example of community involvement in government. Hopefully each town will begin seeking the business communities input when considering new policies that have an economic impact.

At the hearing, a comment was made that Putnam’s towns don’t receive a share of sales tax revenue from the county. However, the towns do receive many financial benefits from the county sales tax. While it may be worthwhile to consider an apportionment policy in the future, there are many factors which would impact any proposed changes and Towns, villages and school districts would need to be able to assume some heavy financial burdens in order to do so. For example, in 2014 Putnam County was responsible for $3.2 million dollars in community college costs, close to $18 million in payments to the towns, villages and school districts to cover property tax defaults (the county guarantees that local budgets will be made whole in the event of nonpayment by taxpayers), and an unknown amount of expenses to fulfill its mandated obligation under the “Help America Vote” Act.

Other factors include “IMA” agreements which assists town in services such as assisting local highway departments in times of need, Medicaid costs, WIC, the Workforce Board, Putnam Tourism, the EDC and IDA, and veterans’ services. These are extremely important considerations which would have to be addressed before the county could give these dollars up. It’s worth noting that the current sales tax distribution has allowed the County as well as most of the Towns and Villages to achieve the 2% tax cap limit. That has allowed “bonuses” from New York State to individuals and the municipalities.

Putnam County’s government partners with the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce on all matters which will impact the business community. It is imperative that our towns begin the same practice before enacting legislation, to achieve the best outcome for all involved. The business community did a great job ensuring this process will begin in the Town of Carmel.

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


Setting Legislative Priorities For Putnam’s Business Community

A Legislative Priority booklet is a useful tool that chambers of commerce and other community organizations use to clearly identify their board-approved positions on various issues of importance and provide a point of reference for elected officials and administrators during policy discussions. Putnam County’s business community has never established one, and so your countywide Chamber is going to initiate an effort to develop such a work to advocate on behalf of those who work here.

This sort of effort is done elsewhere in the lower Hudson Valley to great effect. For example, the Business Council of Westchester’s 2014 guide, still available on their website, contains 24 pages devoted to sharing information about the business community, how to contact elected officials, a listing of priorities that the organization is working on at local, state and federal levels, and a barometer of how things are going. By putting this data all in one place, the Business Council makes it easy for its members to understand the issues and for political leaders to reference. Such a guide, now common among larger chambers of commerce, is worth emulating in creating a Putnam-specific booklet, especially since some of the issues are valid across county borders.

A key resource in setting the legislative agenda for Putnam County is the annual Elected Officials Forum that has been bringing the business community and government leaders together to discuss important issues since 2011. Last March, several infrastructure projects were discussed as well as legislative concerns in a friendly, cooperative setting. This year’s meeting will take place on Sunday, March 15, 2015 from 1:00 to 3:00PM at Spain Cornerstone Park in Carmel. The exchange of ideas at this public forum will contribute to the growing cooperation in good government, and help the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce develop its legislative agenda aimed at building a better future for all.

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


Local Sign Ordinances Need To Be Developed In Concert With Business Needs

The Town of Carmel is looking to enact a new sign ordinance, which potentially threatens efforts to improve the local economy and may hamper the conducting of business in the area. While in theory a sign ordinance is a good idea, it should be done in conjunction of a larger vision and plan for the Commerce districts. The Chambers, business owners and residents of the community have been asking for revitalization for a long time and a sign ordinance at this stage of the game could be counterproductive to the overall business climate.

No one wants to have signs strewn all over town in a haphazard manner. At the same time, the various signage options available to business allow their message to be clearly shared with the public and, as often is the case in our crowded shopping plazas, make it easier for people to safely find the store or office that they are looking for. So it’s important to strike a balance between aesthetics and utility. In our opinion, some of the features of the planned ordinance do not accomplish this goal. For example, the language asking for signs to be “muted in Earth tones” runs counter to why a business needs a sign. Signs need to be highly visible and easy to read, not “muted”. In the case of sandwich boards, they should be allowed 10′ from the shoulder on private property. The new code would ban them altogether. The new fees to hang banners also appear high and restrictive to our not-for-profit organizations. It is imperative that the groups most affected by the proposed sign ordinance are given input into its design and implementation.

Let’s work together to ensure that such an error doesn’t happen in Carmel as it has in other Towns.

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


Former Chairman Zacotinsky Honored As Mahopac-Carmel Businessperson of the Year

Recently the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce awarded their Businessperson of the Year to longtime local business owner and former Board Chairman Bill Zacotinsky of East Road Motors in Carmel. Zacotinsky received the award after more than 30 years running his automotive and small engine repair business and over a decade of service to Putnam County’s largest local chamber of commerce. His service to the chamber included stints on the Shop Putnam Business and Home Expo committee as well as the annual Mahopac Street Fair.

Residing in Mahopac with wife Pam, where they raised their three sons, Zacotinsky started out in the corporate world, having worked for McDonnell Douglas on the space shuttle program before the 1986 Challenger disaster disrupted the entire industry. In order to keep the family local, he chose to go back to the auto repair business which his father had toiled in for many years. Thus East Road Motors was born.

Zacotinsky was chosen for this year’s award because of his years of dedicated service to the community and the countless volunteer hours that he and wife Pam have put in while helping to make a difference in the home community they know and love. “We need to recognize community service,” says Mike Bucci, CEO of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce. “Bill has volunteered so much time for community, business and cultural events. He and Pam are very valuable members of our organization.”

The Businessperson of the Year award is given annually to a member of the chamber who has distinguished themselves above and beyond their peers through their service to the community and the independent entrepreneurs which are the backbone of local businesses. The Zacotinsky Family is a great example of those who have built both the chamber and our beautiful, vibrant community into an economic engine for Putnam County.

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


Putnam Scores Big In Regional Economic Development Council Awards

The Mid-Hudson Region has come out on top in the 4th annual quest for state funding of initiatives, with $82.8 million going to 118 projects/initiatives which will preserve and develop the valley’s “green” infrastructure and foster the continued growth of industry clusters, while creating new jobs and sustaining a vibrant regional economy.  Putnam County got a big boost which should help Meghan Taylor and the Putnam EDC as well as the Chambers of Commerce in fostering more growth and promoting our business community.

Among the recipients, Green Chimneys will get $750,000 to renovate two buildings and enhance their offerings to special needs and preschool children. The Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail can expect $935,000 to create a nine mile trail that will connect the downtowns of Cold Spring and Beacon, adjacent to the rail lines. Also in Cold Spring, the Hudson Shakespeare Festival will receive $71,600 for arts education programs and workshops, while nearby in Garrison, Manitoga is going to get support in the amount of $16,700 for a series of intricate large-scale interpretive sculptures.

A new Opportunity Fund will help Hudson Valley businesses with $1,000,000 dedicated to an SBA-certified microlender, Community Capital. Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress, a regional economic development and advocacy group, will receive $60,000 in support for its research on infrastructure investment. Finally, the Greater Hudson Heritage Network will get the opportunity to expand its Program Coordinator position with a $49,500 award from the state coffers.

The Regional Economic Development Councils have been a major initiative for New York’s growth plans since 2011.   Over $300 million has been invested in 350 projects endorsed by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. This is regional collaboration at its finest. All across the state, groups compete for these dollars, and we are fortunate that, this time around, we have been very persuasive in our case for state support.

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