PLATTSBURGH — North Country business owners continue to show more optimism in the local economy than the national outlook.
The 2014 Business Confidence Index, released as part of the North Country Chamber of Commerce Annual Issue Survey, is listed at 92 percent, compared to 90 percent last year.
The survey found 58 percent of business owners believe business will increase, and 34 percent expect it to remain steady.
Only 25 percent of those same business owners expect the national economy to improve, while 33 percent believe it will get worse.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the results show a continued culture of optimism as to what will happen in our own backyard.
“There are real, solid, on-the-ground reasons to feel optimistic,” he said.
Those include the continued strength of Canadian tourism, shopping and investment; major contract wins for Bombardier Transportation, Nova Bus and Prevost Car; continued strong sales- and occupancy-tax revenues; and the success of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, which has been a top performer in the statewide funding competition the last three years.
Another factor is the declining unemployment rate in Clinton County, which went from 9.7 percent in December 2012 to 7.4 percent in December 2013.
Even more impressive was the growth of manufacturing jobs in the county, Douglas said. Although the state level of manufacturing jobs dropped 1.9 percent in 2013, that figure jumped 3.7 percent in the North Country.
That is likely to continue to improve, he said, as they have met with an attractive array of interested potential investors from across the border at a level not seen since the 1990s.
Survey respondents expressed concerns about the Affordable Care Act.
Douglas said 75 percent believe it will increase their cost of doing business, and 67 percent believe it will eliminate jobs and discourage job creation.
Also, 37 percent believe it will harm the North Country’s hospitals and health-care system, though 12 percent believe it will make those stronger.