PLATTSBURGH — With its proximity to Canada, the North Country has the pieces in place to make great headway in job creation, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says.
“We have so many extraordinary assets here,” Gillibrand told local commerce officials at Friday’s roundtable discussion on cross-border commerce, hosted by the North Country Chamber of Commerce and held at Plattsburgh State.
“To be near the Canadian border is so meaningful... we have everything we need here to create jobs.”
TIES TO EDUCATION
Gillibrand said a key tool in creating and filling vacant jobs lies in education. Partnerships between government and local colleges to provide specific training programs will boost the manufacturing employment pool, making the area attractive to businesses.
She cited a welding program at Adirondack Community College that helped train workers needed for Bombardier Corp. in Plattsburgh as an example of such a partnership.
“That is a winning model,” she said.
Gillibrand, a Democrat, supports federal legislation to improve infrastructure by getting the private sector to invest in projects.
She also supports project labor agreements that call for local union workers to be hired for jobs at prevailing wages instead of out-of-town firms at lower costs.
“They (PLAs) can be useful and productive,” she said. “It is much simpler.”
Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), who also took part in the discussion, said officials at the border crossing with Canada in Champlain have done a remarkable job in keeping goods and products flowing.
The border is having its busiest summer in years, he said, but things are still running smoothly.
“We have to continue to make sure that we can move people and goods across the border and still maintain a high level of security, and that is being done,” Owens said.
Paul Mongillo, Champlain Area port director, said the operation is indeed running much more smoothly this year. He noted that it has been four years since a major upgrade of the port facility was completed and a host of officers were added.
“The facility helps, and we have more officers, and they now have three or four years of experience up there, and they have a better understanding of how things work,” Mongillo said.
Before arriving in Plattsburgh for the crossborder commerce discussion, Gillibrand toured the newly renovated Myriad RBM facilities in Saranac Lake.
The biotechnology company recently moved into its new quarters, formerly the Village Office complex, at 3 Main St. While there, she spoke at length with Laurie Stephens, Myriad’s director of asset development, and talked with several scientists at work in the new laboratories.
Stephens said the new site allows for expansion.
“This is good for us,” Stephens said. “We have been working with local officials to build a biotech cluster. The more we continue to build, the more we will add good jobs to the region.”
Gillibrand asked Research Assistant Allan Powers about the vials he was filling with an eyedropper.
“I’m testing a protein to try to get it to work for a new customer,” he said.
Gillibrand said the relocated biotech company’s new laboratory is an exciting example of business growth.
“It’s very inspiring,” the senator remarked. “They’re hiring new employees and have formed a cluster for collaboration and growth.”
Gillibrand said several new bills have been introduced in Congress to spur entrepreneurial business expansion. One would provide $200 million in venture capital for interim stage research and development companies with scientific products to market.
“This (2012) election is all about choices,” she said. “And how to tighten the country’s fiscal belt without cutting growth opportunties for new business.”
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau welcomed Gillibrand to the village he considers “the capital of the Adirondacks.”
Rabideau said a second biotech company, Active Motif, will move into the building beside Myriad in early 2013.