The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New York (Mr. TONKO) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, on Monday I had the distinguished honor of hosting President Barack Obama to New York’s 21st Congressional District that I represent when he paid a visit to Hudson Valley Community College in the city of Troy.
I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the President for recognizing that New York’s Capital Region has become a leader in advanced technologies, has the ingredients to lead in the clean energy sector, and, most of all, for delivering a message that was full of inspiration and full of hope for a better future.
Why did the President come to New York’s Capital Region to deliver an address on developing an innovation economy? Because we are transforming a rusty manufacturing center that had fallen on hard times into a center for advanced technologies that will soon rival the Silicon Valley and Boston.
That is being done with a combination of public and private investment in close partnership with many universities and community colleges throughout the area.
The President touched on a few points that I have been talking about for years: an innovation economy built around three dynamics: upgraded human capital, infrastructure investments, and financial tools. We must retrain
our workers to develop the energy and innovation economy of the future and leverage public funds with private investments to do so. If we are successful, this will lead to jobs such as wind engineers, advanced photovoltaic
mechanics, fuel cell electricians , geothermal plumbers, technically trained teachers, clean room technicians, and many more.
In Albany we have built a nanotechnology research center and college that have earned a worldwide reputation, which is already a precursor to products in a wide range of economic sectors, from health care to low-emission
In Schenectady, General Electric Global Research Center and Wind Energy Institute are leading an army of smaller companies and entrepreneurs in alternative energy development. GE also just committed to building an advanced battery plant in Schenectady that will add 350 jobs and create a new energy storage system for locomotives that will save millions of dollars on fuel and dramatically reduce air pollution. And just to the north of my district, in my colleague Congressman SCOTT MURPHY’s district, Global Foundries is constructing the most advanced chip fabrication plant in the world.
Smart investments in research and development are leading to innovations that are creating new jobs that will lead to future growth, and that’s a vision I share with President Obama for our entire Nation. We are engaged in a clean energy race, much like the space race of the 1960s. The nation that wins that race to develop clean, affordable, renewable energy and emerging technologies will achieve economic security and a broad base of jobs for generations to come that are higher-salaried jobs.
And that brings us to Hudson Valley Community College, where programs have been created to train the area’s workforce in semiconductor manufacturing, photovoltaic, geothermal, and wind energy. Community colleges like Hudson Valley Community College and the others in my district, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and Schenectady Community College, that will become the vital link between the innovations that will drive our new economy and the great-paying jobs that will lead to economic security for workers now and into the future. Community colleges will be where we train and retrain workers for the jobs of the future. The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in a recent report that in the near future, a degree from a community college will be in
higher demand than 4-year degrees.
But this effort doesn’t start with college. We need to educate today’s children for the jobs that will be there when they become adults. The Capital Region is ripe to offer a regional approach to technological training, starting from grade school all the way up.
In fact, in the Capital Region of New York State, we have established a Tech Valley High School; and Hudson Valley Community College, working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, is building a resource for training and educating the future semiconductor manufacturing workforce. We must use the tools at our disposal in our region to instill a sense of excitement and passion toward learning, especially in the disciplines of science, of technology, of engineering, and, yes, of mathematics.
In Congress we are already laying the groundwork for our innovation economy, first through the Recovery Act, then through legislation such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Just last week we passed in this House the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which will make college affordable for millions more Americans and help build a world-class community college system.
Our future economy depends on our ability to educate and innovate. The challenges to lessen our dependence on foreign fossil fuels is an opportunity to create new industries, new jobs, and new economic security for all Americans, a vision that I share with our President and many of my colleagues.
Our President’s vision of an innovation economy is ripe in the 21st Congressional District.