New York's economy has struggled during the pandemic, but it could be primed for a boom this summer.
Businesses are starting to reopen and New York officials are beginning to ease restrictions on public gathering places as the state's positive rate declines and more people are vaccinated. Gary LaBarbera of the Building and Construction Trades Council pointed to job-creating projects that are back on track.
"I think as vaccines increase and people are working safely, I do think the construction industry is going to rebound," he said.
New York was among the hardest hit states in the early days of COVID-19, a virus that killed thousands of residents and shuttered businesses, schools and other spaces where people have gathered.
The state's unemployment rate is still above 8%, higher than the national average. Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt says more work will be needed to fix a pandemic-battered economy.
"You can't close down large sectors of your economy for the better part of a year and just flip a switch on and everything comes back," Ortt said. "I think we're going to have to grapple with taking action to bring back our economy."
And as more people return to full-time work, a bill on Governor Cuomo's desk could soon require businesses to put safety provisions in place meant to halt the spread of the virus. Maritza Silva-Farrell of Align New York says the provisions are vital for worker safety.
"Guidelines aren't enough. Vaccines aren't enough," she said. "We're still in a pandemic. We must ensure workers and businesses are protected, and reopening responsibly means having a law like New York Hero in place."
But business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, have raised concerns. The group's assistant director Ashley Ranslow says the provisions create uncertainty for employers.
Business groups have proposed amendments to the bill they say will make it less burdensome.
"Are there going to be different standards for one airborne infectious disease versus the other? And are those standards going to change over the course of time?" Ranslow said. "All of that uncertainty impacts small businesses, how they can prepare and how they can recover."