Backed up by steamfitters’ union members, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (left) talks at a press conference Monday Feb. 20 about how he’ll be lobbying for a federal grant of $750,000 to $1 million to bankroll technical training in hazardous materials cleanup, to be offered at the union’s training center soon to be constructed in Tech Meadowsindustrial park in Queensbury. Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond (right), welcomed Schumer to the city-owned park.
Union worker Jerry Girard stood behind a banner among a dozen of his peers welcoming U.S. Sen Schumer (D-NY) Monday Feb. 20 to a plot of land in Tech Meadows business park — where his pipefitters’ union will soon be constructing a training center. The facility is envisioned to instruct job-seekers and workers from all over northern New York in high-technology skills.
As Schumer read from a prepared statement about how he’d lobby for $750,000 to $1 million in federal job training funds for the training center, he paused to gather his thoughts.
Jerry Girard, of Warrensburg and Glens Falls, tilted his hard-hat and finished the senator’s sentence.
“Local jobs for local people,” Girard said.
Schumer smiled, and seconded the thought.
“We want Glens Falls at the center of the action, with local workers getting the jobs that are available — and I will go to bat and do what I can to bring this grant home,” he said.
Schumer talked Monday at a press conference attended by about 50 business leaders about his support of job growth and economic development in the Glens Falls region and the state’s northern counties.
He noted how General Electric’s ongoing $1 billion PCB dredging project, in its initial phase, had employed 500 workers around the clock, and they had received intensive training hazardous materials handling. But many of those at work on the GE project cleaning up the Hudson River were brought in from neighboring states due to their advanced skills, Schumer said.
A local training center, focusing on developing such skills, could combat this importation of workers, he said, adding that specialized skills were also needed by potential employees of the GlobalFoundries semiconductor plant recently established in Malta.
“I want workers here to be ‘in’ on the action,” Schumer said. “This will help train people for good-paying jobs for which there’s a real need.”
Local No. 773 of the United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters is seeking this U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grant that would bankroll training in hazardous materials cleanup procedures. The union represents workers, many of them in the construction or technical trades, from Saratoga County north to the Canadian border.
Schumer said the EPA grant would also train workers in lead paint removal and asbestos abatement.
Scott Martel, the union’s business manager, said such training would be hosted at their $5 million 18,000-square-feet training center, which is expected to be constructed and in use by the end of this year.
The center — the first facility constructed at Tech Meadows — is expected to include a “clean room” environment intended to arm workers with specialized skills necessary for jobs in the semiconductor, solar power and medical device industries, Glens Falls Economic Development Director Ed Bartholomew said.
“This center will train new workers and retrain those already employed, giving them the opportunity for good jobs,” he said.
Plans for the 40-acre park call for it to host eight buildings totaling well over 400,000 square feet. Situated in Queensbury but owned by Glens Falls, the park is located off the intersection of Luzerne and Veterans roads, just northeast of Northway Exit 18.
In welcoming Schumer to Tech Meadows, Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond noted that the two building sites nearest Luzerne Road are “shovel ready” — complete with water and sewer lines paid with a $765,336 grant Schumer helped obtain in
- Those sewer and water lines are expected to be extended to the other six lots this year, Diamond said, adding that he expects the training center’s presence to prompt other enterprises to locate in Tech Meadows.
“This center will spark a snowball effect and fill up the park,” he predicted.
Schumer noted that greater Glens Falls and the Capital Region were gaining jobs faster than most all areas of the state.
“I wish everywhere in New York State was doing as well as Glens Falls,” he said.
More flood aid forthcoming?
On another topic, Schumer said he was aware of the 2011 flood devastation in Essex, Schoharie, Greene and northern Warren counties, and he would be lobbying for money to be released as soon as possible for area communities to restore infrastructure.
He noted he’d fought for the recent commitment of $200 million in a “second wave” of funds to recover from flood damages and rebuild. Schumer aide Steve Mann said this new funding was primarily targeted to spur economic development in flood-ravaged areas.