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March 2024 Advocacy Day: Representing the Greater Rochester Voice of Business in Albany

March 26, 2024

Members of the Greater Rochester Chamber team and representatives from seven member organizations travelled to Albany for an Advocacy Day on March 19, 2024. The group represented and voiced the interests of some of the Greater Rochester region’s largest industries and employers in meetings with bipartisan leaders in the New York State legislature. Our discussions aimed to meaningfully address topics including healthcare, education, poverty, and
public safety.

On the evening of March 18th, members were joined by Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt and his Senior Advisor Michael Kracker. Members were able to share with the Leader the issues that most significantly impact their industries and organizations, and hear his candid feedback on how to address them and move the needle. The Leader specifically identified the need to promote policies that keep our communities safe, ensure our businesses have access to a qualified pool of talent, and incentivize businesses to stay and grow in New York. Thank you to All American Home Care and its CEO Marco Altieri for sponsoring this event.

Our action-packed day on March 19th kicked off with a meeting of Greater Rochester Assemblymembers Josh Jensen, Steve Hawley, Brian Manktelow, and Marjorie Byrnes. They provided their insights into the Assembly’s one house budget and sought feedback from members on the issues that most significantly impact their ability to succeed. A large portion of Greater Rochester Chamber’s delegation represented various aspects of the healthcare industry including All American Home Care, Lifetime Assistance, St. Ann’s Community and the Senior Health Alliance, and Upstate New York’s two largest employers in the University of Rochester and Rochester Regional Health. Among other issues, these members expressed their strong support for increases to Medicaid reimbursement rates, support for the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) and support for the 3.2% COLA.

Throughout the day we connected with other members of Greater Rochester’s State Delegation including Senators Jeremy Cooney and Samra Brouk and Assemblymembers Harry Bronson and Jen Lunsford.  A key aspect of these discussions was poverty. With the leadership of Wegmans, Greater Rochester Chamber is working to raise awareness around the significance of the Benefits Cliff. Generational poverty persists and employee growth is stunted by this issue that has devastated Greater Rochester and beyond for decades. Wegmans shared details about their innovative approach to helping remedy the Benefits Cliff and asked the Legislature to advance policies that do the same. We were joined later in the day by the Senate’s leading voice on the Benefits Cliff, Senator Roxanne Persaud, Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services, who was aware of Wegmans’ advocacy in this space and welcomed them and Greater Rochester Chamber as a partner in the effort.

Common themes emerged throughout the day highlighting the fact that our members’ key priorities and interests are aligned in several ways. These synergies allowed us to present a unified message as the Voice of Business in the Greater Rochester region. Members represented organizations that care for and improve the lives of New Yorkers from all walks and life, and at all stages of life, “from cradle to crypt,” with leaders from Care-a-lot & Generations child care and the Senior Health Alliance of Greater Rochester.

“We had an extraordinary day in Albany and witnessed government at its best: listening, asking questions, and taking time. We had a great group of members and shared meaningful face-to-face conversations with leaders in both the Assembly and the Senate,” said Bob Duffy, President & CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber. “Right in the heart of budget time, it’s difficult get this kind of contact with these leaders who are so busy. We sincerely appreciate them making time in their schedules to meet with our members. We are looking forward to seeing success in this year’s budget.”

Among the other issues leading the day was the University of Rochester’s advocacy around funding for Centers of Excellence and Centers for Advanced Technology, Care-A-Lot’s advocacy around staffing shortages at childcare facilities, and St. Ann’s Community’s push for a 16% Medicaid rate increase and regular rebasing.

Rounding out our day was a working lunch during which we hosted Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. The Leader, known for her strong advocacy for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, was in lockstep with our agenda to support New York’s youngest and oldest generations in the ways they need and deserve. We are grateful to Leader Peoples-Stokes for her time and candor with our members, offering her expert insights into the legislative process and listening to our members about their most pressing issues. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples Stokes said, “Quote from Crystal Peoples-Stokes.”

“The audiences and brought in and the discussions we had have been tremendously helpful. I really feel like I’ve been heard today and that our issues will be addressed,” said David Kolczynski, President & Owner, Care-a-lot & Generations Child Care.

Greater Rochester Chamber is proud to be the Voice of Business for Greater Rochester. Direct advocacy such as this is important to ensure that the business community in the Finger Lakes region is heard in Albany. To learn more about Greater Rochester Chamber’s advocacy priorities, please see our 2024 Advocacy Agenda.


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