Heather Briccetti is used to having a head start on everyone.
The Tunisian-born upstate New Yorker attended the University of North Carolina as a 16-year-old before transferring to Binghamton, and she interned at the State Capitol before she could legally drink.
She has since worked on both sides of the Legislature, both in the majority and minority, in the state attorney general’s office, as a public defender for Rensselaer County and as a lobbyist before she joined the Business Council in 2007. Five years later, Empire State Development CEO Ken Adams encouraged her to seek the Business Council’s top job.
She says the job is far different from being in the Legislature, where “people come to you and tell you their position. Business owners are not going to get on a bus and come up here and rally. What I do is try to organize chambers and businesses to try to connect with them and let them know they have an opinion. You have to make legislators aware of what businesses want.”
Her top legislative priorities this year are repealing a tax on energy consumption onerous to manufacturers, permitting hydrofracking and promoting other policies that she says make the state friendlier to small businesses that want to stay in New York and grow. “The best way to generate revenue in the state is to create a climate where people are confident in job creation—that’s increasing revenue without increasing taxes,” she said. “It’s not as if you can just snap your fingers and say that’s the one thing to do to promote job growth in the state. It’s not magic. The political climate makes a big difference, and confidence in your government is huge.”
In addition to running the Business Council, Briccetti owns and runs a working farm in Brunswick. “It’s good to get up in the morning and do honest work: shovel manure, clean up stalls, pick up some eggs and feed the animals—they appreciate it,” she said.
Briccetti also hopes to grow hops in the summer and make her own beer. “I want to call it Quackenkill Brew,” she said. “I’m going to start with IPAs.”