From taxes and health care, all the way to education, there are numerous topics being debated in this year’s election that could affect local businesses – and local business owners are worried.
Ron Maier is president of Kenron, an industrial air conditioning system contractor. He’s watched his fair share of elections as a business owner, and says 2016 is unlike any other.
“Who’s going to be able to roll out those programs that’re going to be able to encourage growth?” he asked. “We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got education, we’ve got manufacturing that needs to be able to be developed. The potential’s there.”
Every year, M&T Bank conducts surveys with local businesses about the economic outlook, and the results from their most recent survey were shocking to some.
This year, one in three business owners say they’re worried the outcome of the election might affect their business.
“41 percent in our last survey said the economy was going to improve. This time it’s 23 percent – so a pretty dramatic shift,” said Dan Burns, the Rochester region president for M&T Bank. “Similar to what we saw in 2012 – the same type of sediment when the government was going to shut down and there were budget battles – that uncertainty is what people are feeling with the election.”
While there are plenty of examples of businesses opening and expanding in and around the Rochester region, experts say that uncertainty in 2016 has prevented the economy from growing in 2016.
“It’s causing business owners to put on the pause button, if you will,” said Burns. “They’re still hiring, which is good. They still have plans to buy equipment, but they’re not overly optimistic. It’s more of a ‘Goldilocks’ economy where they’re treating everything as not too hot, not too cold.”
“They’re going to make small moves that they have to do, but I believe any large movements that’ll have contributions to the community they’re going to hold off,” Maier said. “They’re going to see what’s going to go on.”
While local businesses like Maier’s are currently on stand-by, there could be some good news for the local economy in a little more than a month.
“I think the election will serve as a bit of a relief. Then the business owners will know, ‘Okay, this is where this candidate stood and this is the approach I can take with my business,’” Burns said. “So reducing that uncertainty, no matter who wins, I think will be a positive.”