County business groups brace for tough times

Nationally, businesses are suffering.

News of the Big Three automakers seeking bailout packages from the government has dominated the headlines, and it's no secret that retailers everywhere experienced tough times this holiday season.

While exact numbers for Schenectady County aren't out yet, those who promote business in the area are saying that county retailers are feeling the pain, too, and are preparing for a difficult 2009.

"These are very difficult times, and it's not just in government, but it's in private business. Everyone is looking at how they can do business differently or how they need to do business differently," said Chuck Steiner, president of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce.

However, he said, over the past couple of years the county had put some programs in place, allowing some business activity to possibly "lean far differently than other businesses within the region."

He credited the Schenectady Metroplex, the City of Schenectady and also the county for putting those initiatives in place.

"Right now we have a considerable amount of activity in construction and in facilitating new business, which obviously keeps construction workers working and businesses busy, so much of that has been in place and is getting executed now," said Steiner.

He said that much of the business and building activity that is taking place was arranged and put into action in 2008, but that it is lessening the trickle-down effect of the country's poor fiscal shape on the county.

"Some of the impact on the economy statewide, nationally and internationally has not necessary caught up with us," said Steiner.

He also said that he's not "trying to sugar coat anything."

He said holiday business was not anywhere near what was desired or anticipated, and business owners he has spoken with have said that they are aware they will have to change some of their practices to survive in 2009.

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