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‘What Should the President’s Focus Be for the Next Four Years?”

Interviews by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

“I want him to not raise taxes and maintain low regulations on businesses. Any businessman wants that. Maybe he should rebuild the infrastructure of the nation to bring more jobs. That will spur the economy, so it will grow.”

Patrick Burns
Owner of Wet Paint Company, Oswego

“We look at what’s in our community, but no matter who is sitting in the seat of the President, they’re looking at the whole country. There may be a reason for why they see it that way, whether the information they receive from other politicians, meeting with communities all over the country. I would really love to see the economy pick up in the sense of jobs coming back. We’ve lost many, many businesses. If you go through some of these malls, they’re empty. Nobody goes to the few stores that are there. If we don’t have businesses, we don’t have jobs. If people don’t have jobs, they can’t find housing or go to college for education to better themselves. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to not having access to good paying jobs.”

Reynald Ortiz, Jr.
Executive director of Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corporation, Syracuse

“Obviously, COVID is a major concern. Also, the more we can do to make ourselves more competitive internationally would certainly help our business.”

John Sharkey
President, Universal Metal Works, Fulton

“My No. 1 concern is healthcare. I have a small business. I haven’t had good healthcare. I hope they’ll improve insurance for all so small businesses won’t have to worry about it. I hope [the new administration] will support small business, women and minoritybusinesses, especially. That hasn’t been addressed in the past four years. I’m hopeful that a woman vice president will bring some of these issues to light. I’ll definitely be sending her letters. As far as small businesses, you don’t get a lot of the benefits that someone who works for a large business does, yet we work really hard.

Rebecca A. Duger
Owner/designer, Uniquely Designed by Rebecca, Elbridge

“I would certainly hope that this administration approaches government ethically, kindly and with a world view. Isolating ourselves from the rest of the world was a poor decision, especially when we’re facing a worldwide pandemic. I appreciate the indications that the new administration is going to be diverse and firmly advocating for every single American, regardless of political party, race, creed, etetera.”

Tracy Black
Owner, Tracy Black Consulting, Clinton

“I hope he’s able to give some more aid to the small businesses, especially in the light of the pandemic. As an accountant, I’m seeing a lot of the businesses struggle, especially the small ones and also the restaurants and bars.”

Janet R Goncalves
Owner, JR Financial Solutions, Cicero

“As we approach the next several years, I would like to see increased access to small business capital and a more significant investment in data collection in the small business sector.”

Meghan Florkowski
Director, WISE Women’s Business Center, Syracuse

“I definitely think we need to look at more comprehensive, open business loan policies, particularly for minority-owned businesses who have issues with personal credit or for whatever reason. It could be generational systemic racism, where black families weren’t allowed to purchase homes and were able to use that money to build their businesses. I would love to see over the next four years policies created that will help impact the economy in a positive way, where minority-owned businesses are able to build and sustain their businesses and make fair and equitable additions themselves to our economy and to underserved communities. I’d also like them to look at how we fund education and how education looks now after COVID. How can we create an educational platform that brings together people from all walks of life? How do we create a fair and equitable education system? I would love to see more advisory committees with community people. I’d like our officials to include community voices versus leadership voices to decide what the needs are. That should be balanced out. There are usually only leaders making these decisions on committees. We should look at more affordable housing for the underserved community and ensure that the middle class is supported when we have economic crises so they don’t fall into poverty when they run into trouble, whether it’s through loss of employment or the economy crashing.”

Lekia K. Hill
Owner, Powerful Voices App, Syracuse

“Hopefully, he will focus on the pandemic and ways to get it under control. And focus on uniting the country.”

Cathy Hogan
Regional clinical director of Stafkings Healthcare Systems in Oswego

“I don’t care for the healthcare insurance options. I don’t have any healthcare insurance myself. As for taxes, I am OK with where they are right now. They have them there for a reason, to pay for stuff we all need and use. But if taxes went up, I would be definitely very disappointed. I don’t want to see that happen.”

Nate Bissell
Auto technician at Torbitt’s Service Center, Inc., Oswego

“I hope the focus will be unifying the country and bringing us all together again.”

John Halleron
Senior business adviser at Small Business Development Center, Office of Business and Community Relations, SUNY Oswego, Oswego

“I’d like COVID to be taken care of, the economy to pick up, and [to see] security around the world.”

Rick Rebeor
Owner, Valley Locksmith, Fulton