Congressman Bill Owens and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a roundtable discussion at Plattsburgh State.
PLATTSBURGH — The North Country has extraordinary assets and will continue to grow, says U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Much of that potential is due to our neighbors to the north, providing the North Country with what it needs to realize job creation, she said.
“To be on the Canadian border is so meaningful,” said Gillibrand at a roundtable discussion on cross-border commerce, hosted by the North Country Chamber of Commerce and held at Plattsburgh State. “We have everything we need here to create jobs and to make small business grow.”
The senator noted that the Plattsburgh International Airport is thriving.
“When I drove by the airport the lot was full.”
Gillibrand stressed the importance of partnerships between business and education. Creating jobs and filling vacant positions requires such partnerships and is highly dependent on education, she said.
Such partnerships create specific training programs that boost the employment pool and bring business to the area.
“We need more funds for community colleges to train the workforce,” Gillibrand said. “We have to do more to prepare our workforce for the jobs that are available.”
She referenced a welding program at Adirondack Community College that trained workers for Bombardier Corp. in Plattsburgh.
“Manufacturing around the state is struggling, but the economic growth potential is real,” Gillibrand said. “We should be building on our successes and assets.”
The North Country is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, something she said should be cultivated.
Gillibrand voiced her support for project labor agreements, which call for local union workers to be hired for jobs at prevailing wages instead of turning to firms from out of the area at lower costs.
“People who have used PLAs have appreciated them,” she said. “We will look for ways to encourage participants to use them.”
Gillibrand agreed that infrastructure around the state is aging but stressed that “we cannot afford to raise property taxes, anywhere.”
“What we hope to do is a bipartisan bill that would create a vehicle for the private sector to invest in infrastructure.”
Gillibrand also discussed the Made in America bill, contending it was more cost efficient to keep jobs in the country rather than send them oversees.
“The quality of work is better here.”
Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) also spoke at the event.
He said the Beyond the Border agreement moves goods more quickly through the border with the proper level of security. Moving goods efficiently and security is something that must be balanced, he said.
“We think it is important to recognize the impact Canada has on our communities and the entire U.S.,” Owens said.