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July 22, 2005

Survey finds CEOs identify 'excessive' taxes and regulations as obstacle to economic growth

Two-thirds of New York CEOs the Rochester Business Journal identifies as the top fifty in Rochester identify “excessive state taxes and regulations,” as the biggest obstacle to growth.

This is the second year the Business Journal asked CEOs from the Rochester area what they think the “most significant obstacle to growth of the local economy” is, the paper said. “A year ago, we posed the same question to the Top 50 CEOs; the responses were nearly identical,” editor Paul Ericson wrote in an essay about the survey. “Slightly more than two-thirds of the 35 respondents pointed a finger at excessive state taxes and regulations.”

Ericson said the answers were not a surprise. “For years, business owners and managers here and elsewhere around the state have placed taxes and regulations at the top of their reform agenda,” Ericson said. “The fact that their views have changed so little over the past year says something about how much work still needs to be done in Albany.”

The Business Journal’s survey also found that roughly eight percent of the responding CEOs thought that downsizing by large employers and “lack of cooperation among local government leaders,” are also sizeable obstacles for the local economy.

“Last year, downsizing— at 14 percent — was a distant second to excessive state taxes and regulations,” Ericson said.

Other obstacles identified by CEOs surveyed include:

“What will revitalize Rochester is when five or 10 startups, and their founders, make it big and have IPOs and acquisitions and free cash,” the respondent continued. The area is in need of more experienced entrepreneurs who can build successful businesses.

“Once we accrue this experienced layer vs. mostly layers of Fortune 500 retirees, we will once again be an entrepreneurial town,” the CEO concluded.