2021 Greater Rochester Chamber Advocacy Agenda

View the 2021 Advocacy Agenda booklet, including a message from President & CEO Bob Duffy.

Download the 2021 Advocacy Agenda booklet as a pdf.


Support for Businesses Adversely Impacted by COVID-19

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on business in the Finger Lakes region. The responsibility rests with our elected leaders to implement policies and reforms that will jumpstart the economy, not hinder it. In that spirit, Greater Rochester Chamber will:

1. Work with federal, state, and local governments to develop effective aid/grant programs for businesses hit hard by the pandemic

2. Support passage of legislation excluding unemployment charges caused by the impact of COVID-19 from being used to calculate an employer’s experience rating

3 Support relief of sales/property taxes for those businesses hit hardest

4. Support enacting meaningful, temporary liability protections to ensure businesses are not further devastated by COVID-19 related lawsuits during the recovery. If employers are operating in good faith and are in accordance with applicable statutes, rules, executive orders, and approved sector-specific restart plans, they must be protected

Tax/Mandate Relief

New York State is seen as uncompetitive for business because of comparatively high taxes and mandates. Certain reforms have been implemented to ease the burden, but there is much more to be done. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports the 2% spending cap

2. Supports tax rate decrease on small businesses

3. Supports reforming current regulations which impose undue burdens on job creating, economy boosting business

4. Supports a common-sense phase in of environmental sustainability efforts while ensuring the interest of small business is kept at the forefront of dialogue and debate

5. Supports making equal the tax rebate for liquor, wine, and cider

6. Supports efforts to lessen the burdensome taxes on the cider/wine/craft beer industry

7. Supports employer protections regarding cannabis

8. Opposes burdensome language which encourages irresponsible behavior and allows for double or triple dipping when it comes to time off for COVID-19 recovery

9. Opposes vague language in new employer mandates which opens employers to burdensome legal liability

Workforce Development

Among the most pressing issues facing our businesses is having a pipeline of qualified, skilled workers to fill jobs. Funding for education, improved coordination, and targeted investment in talent management will be invaluable toward making progress. Greater Rochester Chamber is proud to be the regional lead for this effort. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports additional investment for the New York Works Economic Development Fund

2. Supports funding the Chamber of Commerce On-the-Job Training Program

3. Supports Governor Cuomo’s Workforce Development Initiative and will continue

collaboration with the Director of Workforce Development

4. Supports disability related initiatives in the region and will provide businesses with resources to trainings related to disability supports/services available in the region

5. Supports efforts that create greater alignment between job creators and job seekers

6. Supports additional investment for TAP, Bundy Aid, and STEAM funding

7. Supports additional base aid funding for Community Colleges

8. Supports further investment in P-TECH

a. Allow students on high school registers, in P-TECH, or other dual enrollment schools

to be eligible for TAP so the tuition cost would be reduced

9. Supports the Finger Lakes region as a beta test site for new WD projects

10. Will continue our work to increase collaboration with regional colleges and universities

to help foster communication between employers and talent

11. Will work to reduce silos which cause inefficiencies in putting people to work

12. Supports Professional Licensing for Immigrants

13. Will work to increase young professional engagement

14. Supports anti-poverty initiatives in the region

Economic Development

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to promote economic prosperity throughout the Finger Lakes region. Particularly in the wake of COVID-19 we must recommit to promoting increased collaboration among government entities and support streamlined processes to make the region more competitive. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Priorities

a. Optics, Photonics, and Imaging

b. Agriculture and Food Production

c. ROC The Riverway

2. Supports reinvestment for the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative

3. Supports reinvestment for the Downtown revitalization Initiative

4. Supports additional funding for, and maintenance of, Centers for Advanced Technology and Centers of Excellence

5. Supports the growth, creation, and promotion of MWBE’s (Entrepreneurship Navigator)

6. Supports expanding tax reforms for New York’s manufacturers to allow for job creation

7. Opposes harmful expansion of prevailing wage policies

8. Supports plans to expand the electric vehicle industry

9. Supports New York/Canada economic corridor


Growing the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes region economy requires investment in transportation, energy, technology, and infrastructure. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports efforts to expand broadband and wireless service throughout all of New York State. Given the high costs associated with expanding broadband access, we support a public-private partnership to assist businesses that express interest in expanding to unserved areas.

2. Supports a reform to Scaffold Law by replacing absolute liability with a comparative negligence standard – the same standards used in every state except New York (NY’s general liability insurance costs are highest in the nation)

3. Supports investment in funding of public transit programs which support job growth

4. Supports investment in operating support, capital assistance, and surface transportation design/repair in Upstate

5. Supports investment in renewable energy, and efficiencies in moving energy resources to NYS


Greater Rochester Chamber fully supports ensuring workers have access to high quality, affordable healthcare. Simply replacing our current healthcare system with a state-run system is unrealistic. Greater Rochester Chamber will continue working to promote health and safety throughout the city and region. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports reducing the taxes, surcharges, and assessments imposed on employers and individuals who purchase health insurance (including the premium tax and HCRA)

2. Supports efforts to prevent opioid and prescription drug abuse

3. Opposes measures that increase the cost of health insurance for employers and workers

Workers' Compensation

The 2017 session saw much needed reforms in workers’ compensation policy. There is still more work to be done in our state, in which costs remain among the highest in the nation. Greater Rochester Chamber:

1. Supports full implementation of improved policy passed in 2017

2. Supports modernized SLU Impairment Guidelines

3. Supports expanding the current Preferred Provider opt-out period from 30 to 90 days

4. Will discourage rollbacks of previously enacted reforms which have proven to support business