OSWEGO, NY – US Rep. Dan Maffei got an earful Wednesday from almost two dozen area business people.
Maffei (D-NY) hosted a small business round table discussion at Lombardo’s Bridie Manor Restaurant in the Port City as part of his district-wide listening tour focused on job creation.
Later, he was also scheduled to meet with Novelis workers and toured the facility.
Maffei cited creating more jobs, fixing the economy and growing the middle class as his top priorities.
During Wednesday’s roundtable, several small business owners, local politicians and those who assist small business told Maffei their ideas on how to expand small businesses, retain jobs, create new jobs and grow the region’s economy.
This was the fourth roundtable Rep. Maffei has hosted of this nature and there have been two consistent themes that continue to get raised, he said.
The first is the need to improve our local infrastructure and transportation options in order for businesses to grow, expand, and be competitive, he pointed out.
“As businesses work to move goods and personnel in and out of the region, they need improved infrastructure and transportation in order to do so,” he said.
The second thing is education and having a well-trained, qualified workforce is a key need, according to Maffei.
Businesses want employees with the education and skills to be competitive, he added.
On these two issues he has been a vocal proponent for bringing high-speed passenger and freight rail into the region.
He has also advocated for improving Central New York’s Hancock Airport and bringing in at least one more discount airline.
On education, Rep. Maffei wants to make it more affordable for middle class students to be able to go to college and is working with colleges and universities to address this issue locally.
Wednesday’s discussion included, among others, Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen; Oswego County Legislator Doug Malone; Mary Vanouse, Oswego Community Development Director; Beth Hilton, Executive Director of tghe Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Laurie O’Brien, owner of Port City Cafe and Bakery; Amy Lear, owner of Man in the Moon Candies; Anne Backer, owner of Taste the World.
Among the concerns they brought to the table were how to spark groth of more small busiensses, being able to get loans and the potential negative impact of raising the minimum wage.
“We do need to ease the burden on employers,” Maffei agreed.
Overall, as Rep. Maffei has been traveling around the district and meeting with people in their communities where they live and work – the one message he has heard loud and clear is that “we need to grow our middle class, fix our economy, and create more good paying jobs in Central New York. These are our top priorities,” he said.