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State Comptroller Talks Ongoing Impacts Of COVID-19

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, left, talks with state Sen. George Borrello prior to the start of a Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce lunch Friday at Moon Brook Country Club. P-J photo by Christopher Blakeslee

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli discussed the ongoing economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on municipalities during a lunch hosted by the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. The year-end event was held Friday at Moonbrook Country Club in the town of Ellicott.

“I’d say, as far as the state goes, we’re well on the way to a full recovery, post-COVID19 pandemic,” he said. “This is more positive than negative, but I remain cautious.”

DiNapoli has been the state’s comptroller since 2007; he most recently won reelection in 2022.

During the lunchtime event in which he was the guest speaker, DiNapoli discussed the local workforce.

“Post-pandemic, the county added 800 jobs and the manufacturing industry added 200 new jobs,” he said. “Twenty percent of all jobs in Chautauqua County are governmental jobs. Wages in the county have increased from 2021 until now, 6.2%. Sales tax for purchased goods and services has increased locally by 4.4%.”

Pictured are attendees of the luncheon at Moon Brook Country Club.

He continued, “The unemployment rate statewide is 3.9% as compared to your county, which is 3.7%. People are spending money and jobs are being created. We’re almost back to pre-pandemic levels, if not better, in some areas.”

DiNapoli cited several service industries that were hit the hardest during COVID-19 but have since recovered.

“New York City is one of the main economic driving factors that affects the entire state,” DiNapoli said. “The three hardest hit industries during the pandemic for NYC and here, was the financial industry; educational services; public, private schools, colleges and universities; social services-based governmental agencies; nonprofit organizations; and human and health providing services providers. All have made a full recovery and are at the same numbers or more, prior to the outbreak.”

But the comptroller also issued a warning, amid all the positive news he shared Friday.

“Economists are predicting we’re headed for a ‘soft’ recession next year,” he said. “However, they’ve been saying the same thing for two-years now. They’re (economists) as reliable as the weatherman.”

A financial report was also presented by Emily Reynolds, the chamber’s secretary, and a report and vote on new members by a Chamber of Commerce Board member, Brian Pender.

Locally, the Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award was presented to Bishop Leecroft Clarke of the I.D.E.A Coalition and who is also the senior pastor of Healing Word Ministries Church of God in Jamestown.

The Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award recognizes individuals or organizations in the region who have worked hard to bring groups of people together around a common goal or objective. The award is presented to those who have helped to move the region forward in a positive direction through collaboration and by building partnerships. It is named in memory of Pam Lydic, the first president and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, who was instrumental in bringing together smaller Chambers of Commerce to create a countywide entity 20 years ago.

The award includes a $500 donation from the Chamber of Commerce to a non-profit charity of the recipients’ choice.

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