SARANAC LAKE - A local business owner who's also a military veteran was among those in the audience Wednesday, Jan. 8 during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech in Albany.
Greg Moore lives in Saranac Lake and runs Bear Essentials, a screen-printing and embroidery business with locations in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. He's also a disabled veteran who served 14 years in the Army, including a tour during the Iraq war in 2004.
Moore was one of two disabled veterans who own businesses and were asked to attend the State of the State. During the speech, Cuomo talked about a proposal to increase the number of state contracts awarded to business owned by disabled veterans.
Moore said he supports the idea.
"It would be great if I could get on the list and be cleared to do those kinds of contracts," he said. "It could grow the business, which grows tax dollars for the village, which grows employment for locals. It would be beneficial for my business and Saranac Lake in general."
Moore said the opportunity to attend the State of the State came up through his involvement in Homeward Bound Adirondacks.
"I had met some of the staff from the Veterans Administration in Albany," he said. "They gave me a call Monday morning to see if I was interested in putting my name on a list of attendees. I didn't even know when the State of the State was. They called me Tuesday morning and said, 'You were selected. Would you like to come down.' I said, 'Sure, when is it?' They said, 'It's tomorrow."
Moore traveled to Albany with village Mayor Clyde Rabideau. He said he was told that he and the other veteran and business owner he sat with, Tom Marinello of Marinello Construction in Albany, would be recognized by Cuomo from the stage, but that didn't happen.
"They called me to do a big bio, and I spent half an hour on the phone with one of their writers, but with the time constraints it didn't happen," he said. "No big deal. It was a good opportunity to be down there."
In addition to Cuomo's proposal to give more state contracts to disabled-veteran-owned businesses, Moore said he also likes the governor's plan to reduce the corporate income tax rate for upstate manufacturing companies to zero percent.
"That would allow us to use money that would go to those taxes on new technology that would make us more efficient and competitive in the regional and national markets," Moore said.
In December, Cuomo signed a law that would allow school districts to enact partial school tax exemptions for veterans. The Saranac Lake school board discussed the proposal Wednesday night.
Moore said such an exemption would be "very helpful." He acknowledged that schools are under difficult fiscal constraints, but he believes they can find other ways to cut their budgets to make up for the tax breaks they could give to veterans.
However, Moore stressed that most veterans aren't looking for handouts.
"I don't think the veterans as a general population are an entitlement society. We don't believe we are owed anything and everything. People did what they did. They volunteered. Veterans did what they did out of willingness to serve and to protect the voice and ideals of everyone."