Talk to business owners about their concerns and the first thing they'll tell you is the need for certainty. But the pandemic, says Peter Elitzer, has changed that. 

"It's impossible to think of everything that might come up because in my wildest dreams I never would have imagined anything like the COVID-19 experience happening," he said. 

Elitzer is the president of Peter Harris Clothes, based in Latham outside of Albany. They employ 600 people with locations in 13 states. The company received federal aid for businesses during the pandemic, which helped cover costs when no money was coming in.

"You have snow days, we're used to that or days where a hurricane is passing through, but not every store in every location," he said. "To be completely shutdown was very intimidating to say the least."

But what Elitzer wants from the federal government is simple: More consistency in its guidelines. 

"Everyone must wear a mask, if somebody has a medical reason for not wearing a mask, this is the procedure you go through," he said. 

For business leaders, the fall is a potential tipping point.

"This may be the most important election in a generation," said Greg Biryla, the state director of the NFIB. "Recent NFIB data suggests 40% of small businesses cannot continue operating in seven to ten months from now without significant economic improvement in New York State."

Biryla says a lot is a stake for businesses and New York's economy as a whole. The group is pushing back on calls for tax increases to fill a yawning budget gap. 

"I understand we face an unprecedented budget deficit, but tax increases cannot always be the first instinct and solution advanced," he said. 

New York's unemployment picture has improved in the last month, but it's still at 12.4 percent, the highest in decades.