Leaders say Obama's return to the area is no coincidence
President Obama is expected to talk about building a stronger economy with the help of high-tech and green jobs when he's in the Capital Region on Friday. We spoke with a few leaders in the area who say it's no accident the president once again has his sights on our area as a model for getting America back on its feet.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "It's flattering to have the president visit your area, your Congressional district, not only once but twice in a relative short time," said 21st District Rep. Paul Tonko.
It's technology many of us may not fully understand - research on the tiniest scale, leading to massive upstate business investment, gaining attention from President Obama and the world's business leaders.
"There's never an endzone, but I can tell you this is a very different Albany, New York than the one 15 years ago," said College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Senior Vice President and CEO Dr. Alain Kaloyeros.
He is credited with helping to orchestrate billions in such high-technology investment. Places where the top minds are creating the next wave of products used around the world. A major reason why President Barack Obama is visiting the area - the second time in 15 months.
This, as Dr. Kaloyeros says if he could tell the president just one thing, it would be to change the funding model for such industry. Basically saying, other areas around the world are putting money toward these investments, and if the U.S. doesn't do it, they simply won't compete.
Dr. Kaloyeros said, "The week after GlobalFoundries announcement was made here, China announced an ultimate subsidy. They're spending 5, 6 billion dollars for a chip fabrication facility in a region in China and they invited a Taiwanese company just to run it. This is the competition."
Meanwhile, he'll tell you it's not just UAlbany, but the synergy between various businesses and colleges. The president last visited Hudson Valley Community College, also teaching nanoscience skills. Add to that the multi-billion dollar GlobalFoundries project bringing thousands of jobs. And then, the work of GE, looking to grow after years of local job declines, clean energy products now leading the way.
Dr. Kaloyeros said, "I would estimate by the end of next year there will be 12-13,000 local high-tech, nanotechnology jobs just on this axis, that were not here [15 years ago].
And, believe it or not, the area is in many ways involved in trade talks with China. GE Energy signed a deal worth billions with a Chinese company to sell clean coal technology.
"I think that it showcases a region of the country that is deeply invested in the innovation economy which I know is important to the president," said Tonko.
The future...happening right here, right now - getting noticed by the world.