February 2024 Greater Rochester Chamber Advocacy Day Recap
On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, Greater Rochester Chamber and representatives from eleven member organizations traveled to Albany to meet with elected officials for a Member Advocacy Day. Our members speak for the business interests of the Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes business community and bring critical Upstate interests to conversations in Albany. Attending organizations spanned industries and sizes, including representatives from healthcare, higher education, retail business, technology, and not-for-profit organizations.
On Monday night, members were joined by Senator Jeremy Cooney for a dinner meeting. Representatives were able to hear from Cooney about his priorities for this legislative session and enjoy candid conversations about what investments the Greater Rochester region can expect in the FY2025 NYS budget. Senator Cooney said, “Bob Duffy and the team at Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce diligently work on behalf of the entrepreneurs and businesses driving our local economy. I deeply appreciate their state advocacy and insights on the needs of our business community.”
On February 6, we were able to meet with ten additional legislators and their teams, from both the NYS Senate and Assembly and representing both sides of the aisle. Our day began with Assemblyman Al Stirpe, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce, and Industry. Stirpe engaged our members in a meaningful discussion on the issues important to them, including how our region can capitalize on investment elsewhere in New York State. We additionally met with members of Assembly Member Jen Lunsford’s team to discuss how we can help break down silos in our community and find synergistic solutions to community problems. Senator Samra Brouk, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, also met with our members to discuss how to ensure that our members can continue to be included in these important conversations about statewide issues related to health, state funding, housing, and education.
Members were able to meet with key decision makers for the issues that matter most to them. For example, representatives from RIT and The Excel Center were able to talk about supporting students of all backgrounds with Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education and representatives from the Senior Health Alliance of Greater Rochester and Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance were able to talk with Senator Pam Helming, Ranking Member on the Committee on Insurance.
Our members enjoyed a working lunch with Assemblymember Josh Jensen and Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. Meeting with key members and decision makers from the delegation across Upstate New York benefits all of our members, including representatives from Amazon, Paychex, and RG&E/NYSEG whose presence extends outside of the immediate Greater Rochester region.
“It was great meeting with Greater Rochester Chamber recently at the state Capitol, where we delved into the pivotal issues confronting our community head-on and heard directly from chamber members on the important issues they face every day. I am grateful to Bob Duffy and Greater Rochester Chamber for consistently dedicating time to proactively reach out to state legislators to formulate actionable solutions and innovative ideas, as well as to hear our policy priorities from me and my colleagues that we champion in Albany,” said Assemblyman Josh Jensen.
Our day also included meetings with Assemblymember Sarah Clark and Assemblyman Harry Bronson, the new Chair of the Labor Committee. These served as important opportunities to build and maintain strong relationships with a key voices in issues impacting all members of our community, including strengthening the labor pipeline, an issue Greater Rochester Champion is proud to champion, and public safety.
Lisa Marcello, President & CEO of Episcopal SeniorLife Communities said, “Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in the Greater Rochester Chamber’s Advocacy Day events and speak on behalf of The Alliance and long-term care. Our meetings were very productive, and I also appreciated learning about some of the issues our fellow Greater Rochester businesses are facing. Thank you so much for your work as well as your team to make it so successful.”
Thank you to all of our members for joining to make this a success, including additional representatives from the Breast Cancer Coalition, Clydesdale Capital, and Heritage Christian Services who all contributed to our meaningful dialogues and Greater Rochester presence in Albany.
Greater Rochester Chamber President & CEO Bob Duffy said, “While advocacy can take many forms, in-person engagement to foster relationships with elected leaders in Albany is crucial for business leaders who want to shape policies. We are proud to have played a role in enabling our members to do that. Being in Albany during budget negotiations is exciting and impactful, as our efforts can meaningfully effect real-time decisions. Thank you to the legislators and their staff who took the time to meet with our members and consider their interests when making decisions, thank you to our members for making the trip to represent the Greater Rochester region, and thank you to Assemblymember Harry Bronson for hosting us in the Legislative Office Building.”
Mark Zawacki, Executive Director, Heritage Christian Services Foundation, said, “The support Greater Rochester Chamber provides members is first in class! I can’t overstate how impressed I am with the Chamber team; the tangible impact of their work is inspiring. Thank you for the opportunity, and thank you to the legislators and their teams who met with us in Albany. It was an honor to represent people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our region and state.”
Greater Rochester Chamber is an advocacy partner for our 1,300 members in the Greater Rochester region. Our advocacy work is a collaborative process with our members and your concerns inform our work. Advocacy can come in many forms, from the direct advocacy with lawmakers we had in Albany, to utilizing our network to help make connections that will help your business. To see Greater Rochester Chamber’s top priorities, please see our 2024 Advocacy Agenda. For members looking to join us in Albany in March for another opportunity to advocate for important issues in the FY2025 budget, please contact Chief of Staff Marc Cohen at Marc.Cohen@GreaterRochesterChamber.com.