Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Anti-Utica Chamber of Anti-Commerce . . .

Long ago (but well within memory) Mayor Hanna called the local Chamber of Commerce the "Chamber of No-Commerce" because it seemed to do little to actually promote commerce. Said chamber went on to drop "Utica" from its name due to apparent distaste for the region's prime city -- only to have to reclaim the name "Utica" a decade later, realizing that without "Utica" no one could find the chamber on a map.

Today, the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce (GUCC) again demonstrates its antipathy to both Utica and commerce by passing a resolution (left) filled with rah-rah political regional gobbledygook to support the Downtown Hospital concept.

While most people don't object to a wad of money being dropped on the region to build a new hospital, the problem comes in when "Downtown" is appended to the "hospital" concept.

Placing the hospital Downtown will require the taking of some 40 businesses -- businesses that provide jobs and businesses that pay both property and sales taxes.  It certainly is odd for a Chamber of Commerce to support a project that destroys jobs and tax base in a region where lack of jobs and high taxes are longstanding complaints.

Chambers of Commerce usually look out for the well-being of their members. Here, however, the only recognition GUCC gives to that responsibility is the statement ...
"Whereas, the Mohawk Valley Health System has assured our board of directors that our member businesses located within the new facility's footprint will receive fair market value for their properties . . .  
Big Deal! MVHS merely acknowledged its legal obligations, so inclusion of the acknowledgement in the resolution is a meaningless gesture.  As an organization of business people, GUCC knows full well that "fair market value for property" will not replace the "sweat equity" people have invested in their businesses -- which most likely will mean that people will simply discontinue their businesses.

In other words, far from lifting a finger to protect the investments of its business members, GUCC cheer leads their destruction.

Adding insult to injury, the GUCC is now supporting a concept that directly opposes the will of the people and businesses of Utica for a mixed-use, walk-able Downtown as codified in the duly enacted Utica Master Plan -- a Plan that took 3 years of community study as to what would "work" to revive Utica -- a Plan in which Chamber members participated -- and a Plan that the Chamber did little to implement.  The closures of portions of Lafayette and Cornelia Streets and dedication of 34 acres to a single use will ensure that the negative impacts of this project will be felt by businesses and Chamber members located blocks away, including those in the Brewery District and Baggs' Square.

GUCC has gone from being a Utica-hating do-nothing organization to one that is actually bent on destruction! It should rename itself:

The Anti-Utica Chamber of Anti-Commerce!


Anonymous said...

Only in Oneida County is development defined by building a hospital that will destroy small business & in the next breath advocate for building a casino which will destroy lives within walking distance of the new hospital. Just think, when this insanity comes to fruition health care workers will be able to walk to the casino & blow their paychecks without having to drive to Verona! What a fantastic new concept on economic development.

Brett said...

Departed chamber board as after a few years I saw that just a couple people at the top made the BIG calls, while many hard working small business members ran lots of smaller chamber activities. Utica-area boards are so cross-pollinated, the leadership is near corrupt and certainly big calls made by a small inner-circle.

The Chambers decision today is so foolish, and our politicians look goofy supporting it. Where was the master of urban destruction from EDGE today? Glad Griffo was absent, perhaps he and Mike Galime can connect to kill this downtown concept before more money is flushed down the drain examining it?

More info here NoHospitalDowntown Chamber of No Commerce

Anonymous said...

The Utica Chamber has nothing to do with commerce. It is an insiders organization designed to support, promote and sustain the status quo of area politicians and their allied businesses who feed off of government money.