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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
forefront: insourcing. Bring jobs back home to America. Invest in the United States and create work for our nation’s workers. According to recent Labor Department statistics, manufacturing is a bright spot in this regard, having added 334,000 jobs over the past two years.

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
trend to a full-blown economic phenomenon?

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
manufacturing strongholds. After all, according to the Organization for International Investment, New York State ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of jobs at U.S. subsidiaries of global companies. In other words, a foundation for private-sector manufacturing growth’s in place here.

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
www.nyworks.ny.gov). Upstate NY manufacturing advocates like the Manufacturing Research Institute (www.mrinys.org), the research arm of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), and the Business Council of New York’s Public Policy Institute (www.ppinys.org) have rallied to the cause.

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
good-paying, advanced manufacturing jobs right here in the United States of America.”

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

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field

   
       

Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

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
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
Website: http://gillibrand.senate.gov/

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
www.omara.nysenate.gov

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538
Website: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=137

 

© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
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