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Majority optimistic about Rochester-area economy

The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll expresses optimism about the prospects of the Rochester-area economy over the next year.

Seven percent of respondents say they’re very optimistic; 46 percent are somewhat optimistic. Sixteen percent are neutral, while 31 percent are somewhat or very pessimistic.

Considering the outlook for their individual companies in the coming year, more than a third of respondents said their firms’ local employment is expected to increase. Nearly half predicted that their companies’ employment will be stable, and 19 percent said it’s likely to decrease.

Nearly 550 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Dec. 14 and 15.

How do you personally feel about the prospects for the Rochester-area economy over the next 12 months?
Very optimistic: 7%

Somewhat optimistic: 46%
Neutral: 16%
Somewhat pessimistic: 23%
Very pessimistic: 8%

How would you describe your own company’s outlook over the next 12 months? Would you say that your firm’s Rochester-area employment is likely to:
Neither increase nor decrease: 47%
Increase: 34%
Decrease: 19%

Here are some readers’ comments:

We’re cautiously optimistic about job growth although it will likely be a slow build. And may not really happen until the second half of 2010.
— Kevin Flynn, partner, Martino Flynn LLC

Until we get our cost of government and education under control, we are going to be challenged to create any growth. The state and local governments and school districts have had no discipline in reducing actual costs.
— John Costello

The Rochester economy most likely (will) be stagnant. The national economy will struggle to make a slight improvement and the Rochester companies. will do well if they do not lay off more employees. The top employer will continue to be Wegmans and the U of R. Smaller companies will look for customers outside Rochester and NYS to be modestly prosperous. In summary companies like Eastman Kodak have still not found their footing and will continue to lose money. Unfortunately top management will continue to be exceptionally well-compensated while not leading the company’s recovery. Rochester will continue to lose talent as the lack of innovation and corporate responsibility continues. Upstate will continue to suffer as most of the resources go to the NY City/downstate areas. NYS will continue to be dysfunctional because upstate representatives do not have the pull to persuade other representatives for more equatable treatment and taxpayers will not have the fortitude to hold their representatives accountable. Perhaps 2011 will be a better year as the national economy pulls Rochester’s along with it.
—Bob Stein

The Rochester and New York State economy will remain dismal until all current Albany politicians are gone. We must replace these do-nothing, CYA, self-serving parasites as soon as we can. The voters have the power. Let’s use it.
— Jeff Luellen

The Rochester economy has proven very resilient over time, and with good reason. The area has an educated work force, a cultural background (and activities) that cities many times it’s size would love to have, a geographic location with plenty of fresh water and rolling topography (and no hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, tornadoes), and a high quality of life. When you combine these attributes with the work Mark Peterson and the Greater Rochester Enterprise is doing to promote Rochester and attract new business, and with Mayor Duffy’s vision of sizing the city to fix the population, how can you not be optimistic.
— Robert Stenglein, Pitney Bowes

Until politicians, local, state and federal, realize that manufacturing is the key element to economic recovery, the populace will struggle to be successful under misguided policies and projects. The difference between managing a business and government is that business has to create it’s own revenue stream to operate, and government just raises taxes to operate. Construction jobs for pet projects that that keep political donations flowing are temporary. How could our esteemed politicians let Kodak be decimated before our very eyes without a fight. Where did they think the tax base for our extravagant social programs came from? 50-60K jobs gone. Mostly to communist China along with the infrastructure to boot (private-sector construction jobs). At $8 million a year and an invitation to the White House, I see politics in Perez’s future. Maybe Johnson could show him the ropes!
— Frank Farquare

What is going to change the economic outlook in this region over the next 12 months for the better or for the worse? I am afraid to say: What you see is what you get. However, if Albany does run out of cash and cannot pay its bills—watch out!
— Jay Birnbaum

Until all of us realize that U.S.-based businesses must base their manufacturing and servicing here in the USA, in order to allow our citizens to earn a paycheck and spend, we will not see a recovery. We cannot outsource the jobs which generate a paycheck for the majority of our citizens, then expect that those very same folks will have the money to spend, in order to fuel our consumer-based economy. We all need to realize that a growing overseas demand for American-made products does not translate into jobs for Americans. Those products are often already being produced aboard. In fact, I’ve observed that often the growth of sales overseas often expedites the increase in foreign job creation, and a decrease in U.S. jobs. Wall Street can only improve the economic outlook for a small minority. Main Street’s recovery will rebuild our economy for the majority of Americans. Government, business, and the American workers/consumers must all align their goal toward the strengthening America’s economy as a whole. We must  look beyond our own personal desires to rebuild a stronger America for everyone. — Gary A. Stafford, Chili

Compared to the rest of the country, I believe that Rochester has fared well during these last 18 months and will continue to do so in 2010. We are a community that is fairly insulated from the highs and lows that many other parts of the country experience. Real estate has remained strong, health insurance premiums are some of the lowest in the entire country, unemployment is below the national average. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong as is advanced technology development. Though NYS and local taxes continue to be of great concern, is Rochester and New York really that much more dysfunctional than any other state?
— Heather Keys, president, KeySolutions of NY LLC

Rochester’s rich history and the community’s unbridled enthusiasm that embraces entrepreneurship will continue attracting new businesses while keeping existing ones. Rochester will become the mecca of converging the past with the present as we witness a resurgence back to its hey-day when photography and film grew and developed the economy.
— Taylor Whitney, president, Preserving The Past LLC

Given the horrific taxes and over reaching regulation in New York, I see little hope for the Rochester economy even if the rest of the United Sates and or world economies experience excellent growth and prosperity.
— Jim Weisbeck, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

We have many talented, bright individuals and groups in and around the Rochester area. All it takes is one or two good ideas to gain steam and turn into feasible opportunities which will change the outlook in the area. As long as our leaders (both governmental and business leaders) continue to put people first ahead of politics, greed and personal agendas this area will reap the benefits.
— Rachel MacDonald, HR director, ExecuScribe Inc.

I see little opportunity for improvement in the area until the state government is replaced with a business friendly government instead of one hostile to business. Since that can’t happen until November, improvements won’t be seen until 2011. Even that will require a seismic change in government philosophy by the people of this nation and state, and that change to be reflected at the polls in November. With the recent changes announced by the EPA, and the proposed changes in wetland laws in NYS, we are reaching a situation where mosquitoes have more rights than taxpayers. — George Dounce

We are fortunate to be in Rochester. The metropolitan area is the strongest economic region in Upstate New York other than the Albany area. However, the Upstate New York economy continues to be brutalized by policies and mandates dictated by our dysfunctional NYS government which has been hijacked by the public employee unions led by the school unions. The majority of the taxpayers are unorganized and powerless. Because of this continued high taxation and the faulty federal economic policies Rochester will not fulfill its tremendous economic potential.
— John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.

Clearly the state is a mess and all elected officials need to be "flame thrower-ed" out of office. We are being taxed and fee’d to death. The difficult part is determining how poorly the local economy is truly performing. Even employers that are doing well will use the bad economic news as leverage to cut benefits, staff and salaries. Unemployment is truly impossible to gauge, because what the economists do not tell you is that people who run out of unemployment are no longer counted as being unemployed because they are no longer a statistic. No check, no knowledge of where and what you are doing. Inflation, unlike what we read, is NOT under control. Grocery shop lately? While energy is stable the cost of goods, in some cases, is up 100%. Even silly things like laundry detergent have gone up 40% in the last year. Step one…leave New York. Step two…take a second job. Step three, stop spending needlessly on "mickey mouse" goods just because Walmart says they are on sale. Step four…hunker down and hold on!
— Rob Bick 

Rochester is primed for a great year in 2010. As health care reform becomes reality, I believe Rochester will be spotlighted again. As the many optics companies in the Rochester area are rejuvenated by what I feel will be a crush on capital spending in 2010, that will significantly boost the economy. As the overall economy in the country finally backs smaller businesses, Rochester will shine, as those small, optics-related businesses will grow significantly, those companies in the health care/medical/biological area, security area and the semiconductor/quality/inspection area will boom! Kodak will cease to be a major player in the local economy, having sold off its assets in the growth industries, and perhaps just fade away. Xerox, with the better business model for this century will also thrive, as it serves businesses in their growth cycles. It already is a great place to live, so that fact along with business growth, will attract new players to the Rochester area, stimulating our home-building business.
— Hutch Hutchison, In T’Hutch Ltd.

When you consider that New York State people and firms are taxed at the highest rates in the country, it’s hard to imagine how our area can prosper. Couple our high tax rates with the dysfunctional government in Albany and it’s clear, the situation will only get worse. Even our governor has no credibility! Today he is crying poor, but just a few months back he bought votes by giving $250 per child to every family on welfare. In short, Albany is so corrupt that their only solution will be to raise taxes on the already over taxed.
— Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM, Advanced Purchasing Technology LLC

With Kodak going out in 2010, I feel Rochester is in for a tough time. I don’t feel that there (are) many (any) breakthrough companies will be starting in ROC.
— R Slocomb

If we are able to expand as I plan to expand, we will hire local people, generating much of our income nationally to pay for these new local hires. We’ll bring more money into the Rochester Area. Great for everyone.
— Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com

(c) 2009 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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