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Gillibrand Promotes "Manufacturing Communities" Plan In Albany

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Albany Wednesday, doubling down on her push to get legislation passed that she claims would bolster the manufacturing industry across upstate New York by creating a permanent program designating "Manufacturing Communities."

The Senator has been trying to get the "Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act" passed, a designation she argues would place several regions at the front of the line for federal economic development funding specifically for investing in manufacturing.   "We have one of the most diverse and talented workforces in the entire country, and we have some amazing schools locally that support manufacturing, through engineering, research and development. So we are truly perfectly suited for a manufacturing boom."

Gillibrand told offficals and workers at Simmons Machine Tool Corporation that if the measure passes, the Albany area would be able to compete for millions of dollars.  "The more we train workers here, the more we give them the skills they need for 21st century manufacturing jobs, and the more our young people can stay in the Capital Region, so I hope our voices can be heard in Congress and we can pass this legislation before the end of the session."

The bill would make an earlier Obama administration initiative permanent.  To earn the right to apply for up to $1.3 billion in currently available federal economic development funding for manufacturing, communities would demonstrate the significance of manufacturing in their region and develop strategies to utilize their “Manufacturing Communities” designation in making investments in six areas, including workforce training and retraining; advanced research and infrastructure and site development.

Simmons President & COO David Davis:  "Senator, your act, outlines exactly what we have here in this community today. And I have to tell ya a little story. The six investment areas? We are in total agreement with! That is what is critical to sustaining a manufacturing community."

Simmons was the latest stop on Gillibrand's tour of New York manufacturing facilities.   "Albany and the Capital Region has really made a commitment to work for development and our state has made a commitment to high tech. I mean we have Albany NanoTech, we've got Global Foundries, we've got a huge investment in the tech sector and it's paying off. And so it is so essential that we have these partnerships with RPI and Hudson Valley and local high schools to get our workforce ready and learning what they need to learn to be able to do these jobs when they graduated. I met a ton of graduates, all from local schools and local programs as I toured the factory. That's a success story."

While the legislation could encourage foreign investment, Gillibrand stressed it is not connected to or dependent upon the hotly-debated Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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