President Talks 'To Do' List at Albany's NanoCollege
Students and others stood in the rain hoping to catch a glimpse of the president.
President Barack Obama was on his third trip to the Capital Region, once again highlighting some of the technological advances here as models for the future economy.
Getting manufacturing to invest in America, he said, was No. 5 his bipartisan "to do" list. Rather than reward companies for shipping jobs overseas, the tax breaks they receive should be used to move jobs back here.
Speaking at the University of Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, the president said the "true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector."
"Now, the reason I came here today is because this school — bless you — and this community represents the future of our economy," the president told a standing-room only crowd in the $365 million NanoFab X computer-chip manufacturing building. "Right now, some of the most advanced manufacturing work in America is being done right here in upstate New York. Cutting-edge businesses from all over the world are deciding to build here and hire here. And you've got schools like this one that are training workers with the exact skills that those businesses are looking for."
American workers' efficiency and productivity, and rising costs in places like China, are making it more sense, he said, for companies like IBM and the GlobalFoundries, which is constructing a massive chip-making facility in Malta. Even if Americans can't make products cheaper, they can make them better, said the president.
"I want to create more opportunities for hard-working Americans to start making things again, and selling them all over the world stamped with those proud words: Made in America. That's the goal."
The president's message was similar to the one he gave just over a year ago at the GE in Schenectady, where he challenged American business to double exports and grow jobs here. The key, he said was innovation.
The 11-year-old "NanoCollege" was selected for the president's address after logistical issues made GlobalFoundries impractical. The college and research complex offers degrees in nanoscale engineering and science with a total investment so far of $14 billion.
Obama toured a clean room with Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a nearby facility, where 450 millimeter wafers are being created to replace the standard 300mm now in use. The president reportedly engaged with the students, commenting that they were using "a pretty fancy piece of equipment."
According to the White House, the nation has added some 486,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010. Production is up 13 percent over the past 26 months, with an accelerated annual growth rate of 7 percent this year, and exports are up 35 percent over 2009.
The president's push for manufacturing investment was only one item on his "to do" list in this election year. Obama put the onus on Congress to provide relief for home mortgages, extend tax breaks for renewable energy companies, give tax breaks to businesses for hiring and raising wages, help returning veterans and keep student loan rates from doubling.
Obama took at dig at the Republican Congress, noting that Republican presidents had grown government during recessions to create jobs, and urged the crowd to "pick up the phone, write an email, tweet, remind your member of Congress we can't afford to wait until November to get things done."
The president landed on Air Force One shortly before noon at Albany International Airport and arrived by motorcade at the university campus on the cold, rainy day. His visit exacerbated already complicated traffic patterns because of road construction and detours on streets around the campus. More than a few invited guests and press (including iBerkshires) were unable to get in to hear the address because of traffic delays.
Some 500 people were reportedly in the NanFab X building to hear the president; outside, a small band of hardy supporters suffered in the pouring rain hoping to glimpse his caravan heading back toward the airport.
Inside, the governor was introduced SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpfer. Also acknowledged was NanoCollege CEO and architect Alain Kaloyeros.
Before departing Albany shortly after 2, the president urged Democrats and Republicans to work together to spur job growth.
"Just saying no to ideas that we know will help our economy isn't an option," he said. "There's too much at stake. We've all got to pull in the same direction."
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