As a small-business owner for over 30 years, I know that small businesses are the backbone of our community and the driving force for our state's economy. As the ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Small Business and the Chairman of the Small Business Task Force, I have visited with hundreds of small-business owners throughout our state and listened to their concerns. At the end of the day, the common complaint among most of these business owners is the tremendous tax burdens placed on them and the escalating costs to do business here, i.e., health care costs and energy.
Again this year, I introduced the Small Business Improvement Act, a legislative amendment designed to ease the burden on small business in Upstate New York and right here in Monroe County. This legislation would direct at least 15 percent of state contracts to businesses with 100 or fewer employees, provide education grants to micro-businesses, and allow for additional funding to help upgrade and renovate downtown and main street facades.
New York holds the dubious distinction of being ranked among the most expensive places in the nation to do business. We also, unfortunately, have the highest number of residents leaving our state each year than any other state in the U.S. Our small-business owners are the ones providing jobs for our neighbors. By creating and retaining jobs, we can attract more of our brightest and best to stay in New York, raise their families and, in the end, provide more shoulders to bear the costs. More people contributing eases the burden on all of us.
By creating an atmosphere that is more conducive to growing and retaining these jobs, we can help bring New York back to being known as the Empire State it once was.