Clinton vows to fight for job creation funds
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she will fight for federal funding to help with the state’s budget crisis and to aid job creation in the Mohawk Valley.
The best way to develop jobs in the region is to focus federal funding on infrastructure, alternative energy and manufacturing, Clinton said.
Manufacturing is especially important to get turned around, she said.
“I don’t think we can regain our economic standing if we don’t make anything in America,” she said. “And we do some wonderful, high-value manufacturing here in New York, but we need to be increasing that, and that’s what we’re going to be fighting for.”
Clinton made an appearance Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre to endorse U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, in his bid for re-election against Republican challenger Richard Hanna, a businessman who lives in Cooperstown.
Afterward, Clinton addressed the many challenges facing the state and specifically the Mohawk Valley.
“We’re tougher than the tough times we face,” Clinton said, “but we have to have the leadership.”
Gov. David Paterson made statements Tuesday about the difficult cuts state leaders will have to make to the state budget. Clinton said it’s not fair that New Yorkers should suffer for an overall failing of the economy, so she hopes to access more federal funding to help the state.
Federal funds also need to be reallocated away from oil and gas companies toward new forms of energy like wind, solar and geothermal energy, the senator said. Wind energy moving forward in the region and geothermal energy being used in Auburn are just the beginnings of the possibilities, she said.
“New York can be a leader,” she said. “We have tremendous potential here.”
This plan can result directly in jobs, Clinton said.
“Let’s start doing what we can do to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and create new, good jobs right here in New York,” she said.
Steven DiMeo, Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corp. president, said the New England Wood Pellet’s Schuyler facility and Rome's Mascoma plant are signs of the possibilities for alternative-energy jobs, which could become a major catalyst of regional economic change.
“And there certainly are going to be more opportunities,” he said.
DiMeo said the turnaround needs to begin with addressing the overall financial crisis, but an increase in federal funding for infrastructure could be very helpful. Many locations have obsolete buildings that need to be knocked down or are in need of sewer access, he said.
“I think there is an infrastructure crisis in this country,” he said.
Mark Feane, Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency executive director, said infrastructure should be the main focus of funding because it would result directly in jobs and revenue.
“I think if there is one thing we learned in the last 10 years, it’s that sites without infrastructure are just fields,” Feane said.
The Schuyler Business Park in Herkimer County obtained access to water and electric and drew in two businesses, he said, but if it had sewer access, even more could be done. And steps are being taken with the infrastructure at the Frankfort 5S South Business Park, but more funding could make the infrastructure truly competitive, he said.
In the Mohawk Valley, there is a strong workforce and quality academic institutions, Feane said. The region also is close to many major markets and could be returned to success with some aid.
“Strategically, we’re in a great position,” he said. “Physically, we’re not. We need help to do that.”
Clinton said she wants to obtain funding for infrastructure that could also create jobs.
“We want to put people to work fixing our roads, maintaining our bridges – doing what needs to be done to play catch-up on our infrastructure,” she said.