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Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce lays out 2013 agenda

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce lays out 2013 agenda
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The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce represents about 900 businesses in the region. Every year, the organization puts together an legislative agenda based on an annual survey and conversations with members. Our Melissa Kakareka has more on their plans for this year.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Air service is crucial to many businesses in the region.

"Businesses of course have to go to other destinations, either to sell their goods they have or to meet with customers they have. So getting there quickly and efficiently is very important to them," said Broome County Aviation Commissioner Carl Beardsley.

That's why the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce is working with BGM and local businesses to expand airline routes and connections in the region.

"That's a primary concern for our businesses. If you are a business like Lockheed Martin that has to go to the D.C. area, Chicago, points south on a daily basis, if you don't have air service, your business is in jeopardy. That's the bottom line. So we're spending a lot of time on that," said Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lou Santoni.

That's just one piece of a large legislative agenda that the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce plans to tackle in 2013 and beyond.

Other areas of advocacy include pushing for mandate relief for schools and local governments, lowering taxes and fees that impede businesses, and opposing minimum wage increases.

"It can't go from $7.25 to $9.00 immediately. It is just too big of a hit for businesses," said Santoni.

President and CEO Lou Santoni says the chamber's top priority this year is to continue to push for natural gas development. Santoni says most of the chamber's members support drilling.

"I liken this to the casino industry in NYS. We sat back and waited and waited. And the Indians have done very well, look at Turning Stone and the other places in NYS. We're doing the same thing with gas. We're getting our lunches eaten by PA and surrounding states," said Santoni.

The chamber shares its legislative agenda with federal, state and local elected officials to help make sure the concerns of businesses are being heard.

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