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Assembly Majority Leader Tours North Country Transportation Manufacturing Sector

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle with Franklin County Legislature Chair Billy Jones (left) and North Country Chamber CEO Garry Douglas (right)
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle with Franklin County Legislature Chair Billy Jones (left) and North Country Chamber CEO Garry Douglas (right)

The North County Chamber of Commerce and two county legislatures hosted a visit by the New York state Assembly majority leader on Tuesday.  Democrat Joe Morelle was briefed on regional economic development strategies and projects and then toured the region’s transportation manufacturing facilities.
The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce periodically brings in individuals who could impact policies and legislation to strengthen their understanding of the regional economy.  

On Tuesday, officials hosted the New York Assembly Majority Leader on a tour of the region’s transportation manufacturing sector.  Joe Morelle saw subway cars being made at Bombardier Transportation, stopped by the Nova Bus/Prevost Car bus manufacturing plant and ended the day with a walk-through of construction the Plattsburgh International Airport’s expansion.

Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas reports that discussion topics included the region’s Canadian connection and why the MTA matters to the North Country.   “We had the pleasure of providing him with a bit of background about our Canadian connection here in the North Country and how uniquely we’re making that work for us. We then showed him a couple of examples of that, going to both Bombardier and the Nova Bus Prevost car operation which also links into the work that he and his colleagues have done on transportation funding including the passage in December of a five year capital plan for the M.T.A.  Very important to have Joe see firsthand where some of those dollars go and how New York is producing some of the end product that it is made possible for the M.T.A. and others here in New York.”
 
8,100 people are employed in 32 companies in the transportation manufacturing sector in northern New York. Morelle is impressed with the North Country’s success in that sector.  “The focus on transportation and the kind of people I had a chance to meet is really extraordinary. And one of the things that I’ve really appreciated about the Regional Economic Development Council process has been each region forced to focus on those transformative industries.  And  clearly transportation and the transportation hub here is second to none in the state of New York.”

Morelle is a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, where he says development focuses on optics, photonics, food processing and agriculture, and next generation manufacturing. He believes the REDC’s have forced regions to focus on sectors that will grow their economy.   “There are common themes. It's no secret that if you're from upstate New York, the region that I represent we are going through a transformation. Manufacturing will continue to be very, very important to us. But it's a changing manufacturing workplace. And so we have to make sure that we continue to change and adjust our thinking to be competitive.”

Local Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey says Morelle now has the knowledge to strongly advocate for North Country issues.  “Now he can speak with absolute authority about what we're doing here.  And he gets the part about how taxes and some of the fees and some of the regulations on our small businesses are just not good. And I think it's critical that the majority leader remains upstate because of the 65 Democrats from the city. And I'm at knocking them as city Democrats but they have a different view so often of and don't understand what our issues are upstate and Joe Morelli sure gets it.”

The Assembly Majority Leader’s visit was co-hosted by the Clinton and Franklin County Legislatures.

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