Telephone Town Hall On Economic Development

Feb 28, 2014

Credit WAMC Composite Photo by Dave Lucas

A Congressman and an economic development chief talked jobs, listened to ideas and exchanged information with New Yorkers on a conference call this afternoon.

Capital District Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko and President, CEO & Commissioner of Empire State Development Kenneth Adams hosted the hour-long "telephone town hall" with citizens, fielding questions and chatting about highlight federal and state efforts at economic development and job creation.

Dan Moran, president of career transition management firm NextAct of Colonie, says he welcomes the focus on job creation in New York State.    "...but I think there's one important step that we need to take as a community, as a business community, and in government, and that is to provide the training that our workforce needs to meet the needs of employees because that's now happening right now. Employers are complaining they cannot find skilled labor or even unskilled labor to meet their hiring needs. Job creation starts with developing the skills and talents of New York State employees so they can fill existing jobs and new jobs can be created."

Tonko and Admas addressed a variety of issues on the call, ranging from schools, culture and minimum wage to college education.

Adams acknowledged the need for skilled laborers throughout the state: he says if a company can't find the right people with the right skills, it won't set up shop in the Capital Region.    "It's up to us to make sure that a young person who might have dropped out of school or might not have much more than an eighth grade education, that we find a way to get that person the skills that the employer needs. A company is not going to invent a job just to help a low-skilled worker earn a paycheck. “

Tonko agreed that education is a critical component to job creation resulting in economic gains for local communities. The Congressman says federal and state officials ARE working together toward aiding education efforts, to get funding aid to school districts that need it the most.  "We have a lot of work required in the education arena, the STEM situation, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math... some may convert STEM to STEAM, which includes arts in the middle of all of that. We need to invest in those areas of career choices. If we're growing this innovation economy here in the hub of this 20th Congressional District, we will need those workers as we move forward. And if America's producing four to five per cent of nay college graduating class as engineers, then we look at other economies, European counties that are in the 16 o 18 per cent category, Asian cultures that are over 20 per cent. The warning signals are there. We need to educate our engineers advanced STEMS. You have my commitment to continue to work on education funding. We're going to continue to work on that Title One money and if we get that American Jobs Act money together, some of that will go toward public education to maintain the teacher quality and the teacher count that we need."

Tens of thousands of residents in New York’s 20th Congressional District were invited to participate in the telephone town hall: figures are not yet available as to how many actually dialed in.