MedTech is an active association of pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technology companies, their suppliers and service providers, and research universities throughout New York State. The association, founded by Welch Allyn, ConMed, Sensis and Bristol-Myers Squibb, connects New York State’s Bio/Med industry through collaboration, education and advocacy.
Each summer, MedTech hosts an annual dinner exclusively for members and selects an esteemed keynote speaker to share a unique point of view as it relates to MedTech’s 3 pillars:
- Promotion and advocacy
- Connection and collaboration
- Education and Information
The speaker that addressed the membership last night was Robert J. Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Locally known as Bob Duffy, he took his current role at the start of 2015, but prior to that, Duffy served as New York lieutenant governor in Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration from January 2011 to December 2014. Additionally, Duffy served as Rochester mayor from January 2006 to January 2011 and as Rochester police chief from March 1998 to April 2005.
Having a long tenure in public service and a variety of roles and capacities, Duffy shared his candid thoughts on the State’s economic and political climate and the impact he sees on the Bio/Med and manufacturing industries. Here are the highlights:
In Duffy’s opinion, the business climate in New York State is “getting better.” As demonstrated by one of MedTech’s flagship successes this year, the crippling Medical Device Tax has been suspended for two years after six years of fighting for its repeal. Duffy acknowledged that “MedTech is a force in the State” and encouraged businesses to continue to ask for help and the things they need, including the repeal of the Medical Device Tax.
After years of traveling the State everyday as New York lieutenant governor, Duffy believes that the manufacturing and brain power in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region are “second to none.” “Kodak talent still permeates our community” and “has helped spawn a lot of other companies.” This region is one of the “best kept secrets” and needs to work together and collaborate to bring the resources that the region needs to the businesses and people.
When asked about the biggest challenge to bringing more business to New York State, Duffy suggested the tax structure. He believes we need to ease the burden on businesses and we can’t do that in artificial ways, such as grants. The State needs to create an equal playing field where businesses can stand on their own.
Duffy credits Governor Andrew Cuomo with the biggest change in New York State – the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, a transformative approach to State investment and economic development. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. Duffy shared there were mixed feelings about creating a competition, but he firmly believes competition “sparks more thought and work” on each regions' priorities, plans, and projects. In order to have a solid plan worthy of investment, leaders of the Regional Councils are focused on finding ways to help local companies and finding ways to help the region grow.
However, Duffy admitted, “The best plans can be put together for a region, but we can’t control if an overseas company wants to setup shop here.” He encouraged collaboration and offered to help facilitate relationships in the region and State to keep New York State competitive – “All I care about is keeping jobs here, first and foremost.”
Weakness in Lack of Collaboration
Speaking candidly, as Duffy is known to do, he advised, “the problem in this region is collaboration and teamwork.” After citing a wonderful example of the wine industry competing in the marketplace yet helping other winemakers and vineyards in times of need, Duffy stated “we need more of that.” On the national screen, “we look small” when we’re not pulled together. The region “will succeed by collaborating.”
For more insight on industry outlooks and expected changes...