President Obama had high praise for the Albany area Tuesday when he stopped at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering.
"This school and this community represents the future of our economy. 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," he said.
He chose to visit Albany because of its economic gains and job growth in high-tech industries, including computer chip manufacturing at GlobalFoundries in nearby Malta.
Albany County, which had a March unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, compared with the state's average of 8.7 percent and the nation's 8.4 percent, is only about 45 miles from Fulton County and 35 miles from Montgomery County. The GlobalFoundries plant is only about 30 miles from eastern Fulton County.
The president didn't stop in Fulton or Montgomery counties, but his appearance should motivate us to connect with the opportunities flowing from our neighboring Albany and Saratoga counties.
We should try to market our counties to companies in high-tech industries, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College should expand programs to prepare students for potential employment at companies such as GlobalFoundries. Fortunately, FMCC and many local officials already recognize the possibilities. For example, FMCC has a new Center for Engineering and Technology, which includes a demonstration clean room for student training, and Fulton County officials are working on a plan to turn the former Tryon youth detention center into a business park.
The president's visit to Albany was no accident. He wants to highlight pockets of success throughout the nation, and we're on the edge of a high-tech oasis. That's a reason to be optimistic and to work harder to meet our goals. We shouldn't be shy about spreading the word the president has visited our region three times because of its economic strength.