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Chambers strike a common chord

From left: Mark Egan, Congressman Paul Tonko, Linda Hilman, Todd Shimkus, CDTA CEO Carm Basile and Chuck Steiner take part in the first ever State of the Region Breakfast.

From left: Mark Egan, Congressman Paul Tonko, Linda Hilman, Todd Shimkus, CDTA CEO Carm Basile and Chuck Steiner take part in the first ever State of the Region Breakfast. Photo by Marci Revette.

— A chamber of commerce offering up a January outlook on the coming year is nothing new, but getting four for the price of one is.

That’s what was in store for attendees of the inaugural State of the Region breakfast on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park. The breakfast was co-hosted by Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce President Mark Egan, Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce President Linda Hillman and Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Steiner.

“It is a myth that we don’t work together,” said Egan, in reference to the united front of chamber presidents. “The reality is, we do. … This is an opportunity to spotlight what the chambers do, in particular what we do together.”

Despite hailing from different parts of the area, all four leaders offered up a positive view of the state of business affairs in the Capital District, especially when it comes to growth. Steiner said that in comparison to Western New York, the Capital District has a far different economic scene.

“I think I’ve died and went to heaven having the opportunity to come to Schenectady to work,” he said.

Steiner pointed to the region’s 6.9 percent unemployment rate, compared to 7.9 percent statewide.

“Clearly, these are significant numbers that show where we stand in relationship to the rest of the country,” he said. “We are very, very fortunate to be here in the Capital Region in this moment and time.”

Steiner said all four counties represented at the breakfast have seen a growth in population and said that is a great indicator of the state of the economy in the region. He added the chambers have been addressing how to entice business to the region. According to Steiner, one of the contributing factors has been the New York producing an on-time budget.

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