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Business leaders sound alarm in Upstate NY, per Siena College survey

Upstate New York CEOs are sounding the alarm as business conditions worsen, with a new survey revealing that more than half of them predict a bleak future for the state’s economy.


The 16th annual Upstate New York Business Leader Survey, conducted by the Siena College Research Institute, shows that CEOs are struggling to maintain profitability amidst inflation and rising supplier costs, while grappling with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Upstate’s business climate deteriorates, lawmakers face growing pressure to take decisive action to support the region’s struggling businesses.

Only 19% expect conditions to improve in the coming year, down from 36% in the previous year. The survey, sponsored by the Business Council of New York State, Inc., found that only 23% of CEOs believe that the economy has improved this year, and 54% expect worsening conditions in the next year, up from 41% in the previous year.


The survey also found that 38% of CEOs, down from 47% in the previous year, predict increasing revenues in 2023, while 26%, down from 34%, anticipate growing profits in the year ahead. Despite the challenges, 55% of CEOs intend to invest in fixed assets in 2023. However, 85% of CEOs say that inflation is having a negative impact on profitability, and 73% are raising their prices in response.

CEOs are also having difficulty recruiting for their open positions despite 72% offering increased wages and 53% being flexible with work hours. Furthermore, 82% of CEOs say that there is not an ample supply of appropriately trained local workers, which is preventing 33% of CEOs from increasing the size of their workforce. In addition, 61-5% of CEOs believe that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour Upstate would have a negative rather than positive impact on the economy, and they oppose the increase by 59-31%.


In terms of government, only 11% of CEOs think the government of New York is doing an excellent or good job of creating a business climate in which companies like theirs can succeed. Over half of the CEOs would like to see the Governor and Legislature focus on business and personal tax reform and spending cuts, while about 40% call for infrastructure development, workforce development, and business development incentives.

The survey also found that 43% of CEOs say that they are familiar with ‘Disruptive Technologies,’ and 80% see disruptive technologies as an opportunity for their business rather than as a threat. However, 52% say that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in the use of disruptive technologies.

The survey highlights the need for the state government to improve conditions for businesses in Upstate New York. “Loudly and clearly, Upstate CEOs say that Albany isn’t making it any easier for them to be successful,” said Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy. “Business leaders are telling New York’s leaders to cut spending, curtail regulation, and work to make it easier rather than harder for businesses, the engine of New York, to be successful.”