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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Made in America (but especially New York)"
ALBANY, Feb. 6 -- Late last year I read a headline in the New York Times that asked, “Does America Need Manufacturing?” For anyone who grew up anywhere in the Southern Tier during the region’s manufacturing heyday – whose fathers and grandfathers made a decent living in those factories -- the answer to that question is heartfelt and immediate: you better believe it.
Which is why we’re seeing it from inside the White House. We’re hearing it from presidential candidates crisscrossing the nation. We’re reading it in best-selling books. It strikes me that there’s a common refrain slowly but surely taking hold across America: let’s manufacture it, again, in the USA. If it continues, and I hope (and believe) it will, it bodes well for New York State and, even more specifically, for our region as a whole.
Following a decade defined by “outsourcing,” when some of
the nation’s largest companies, according to one Wall Street Journal
report early last year, cut their America-based employment by 2.9 million
workers and hired 2.4 million workers overseas, there’s a new idea
moving to the
Mind you, at the moment it’s a small, small blip on the economic
recovery radar, but if it signals the possible start of something bigger,
then we need to be asking if we’re doing enough to encourage it.
Or, more to the point, what can we do to turn insourcing from just the
hint of a
There’s nothing easy here. It involves difficult economic realities
tangled up in the complexity of the global economy, so it’s not
like flipping a switch to turn it around. But it’s a key question
that’s going to get a lot of attention this election season, and
rightly so. It poses many fundamental questions for the nation’s
future. It also means we better be ready here in New York State to attract
and seize every new manufacturing opportunity that comes our way, as well
as reclaim old
Across the Southern Tier, from Binghamton straight on out to Buffalo, many of us can recall this proud tradition of manufacturing. While that pride’s still on display here, it’s also been a pride, in far too many places, that’s fallen on devastatingly hard times. The story of upstate New York manufacturing in modern times has too often been about lost jobs, abandoned factories, and declining communities. We all can remember when so many manufacturing industries were providing good jobs, meaningful work, and a source of economic security and sense of well-being for so many working families.
So we need to ask in New York, as the nation finally starts to zero in on bringing manufacturing jobs back home: Is there still a place for manufacturing? And what are we doing to make it happen here again?
There’s no shortage of good ideas and strong recommendations.
The Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Councils
each put forth comprehensive blueprints last fall – and each one
contained a strong manufacturing component (you can read these plans at
For New York government, it’s about providing the right incentives, creating a manufacturing-friendly regulatory and tax environment, paying attention to workforce development, education and training, and much more.
MACNY President Randy Wolken summed it up best in an op-ed in the Syracuse Post-Standard last week.
“If we want good-paying, middle-class jobs, we need the support
of policymakers to create environments where these jobs thrive. We need
to lower the costs of production – and that does not mean wages,”
Wolken wrote, going on to cite the high cost of doing business, and the
overriding need for educational systems more in tune with the demands
of the modern economy, providing high-tech retraining for workers, and
enhanced broadband and transportation infrastructures. “As a community
and nation, we need to value manufacturing and its middle-class jobs more
than other places they can locate. When we do so, we will again see the
return of many
Maybe most of all it’s about believing that manufacturing here at home is not a lost cause, not by any measure. It can be renewed and thrive once more if we never again give up on it, and if we keep rolling up our sleeves to work at it.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869