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Bipartisan Legislation Aims to Save and Advance CNY Manufacturing

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Scott Willis
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WAER News

Bi-partisan legislation in the house and senate aims to continue and strengthen the long tradition of manufacturing in central New York after a generation of decline. It would push the region to the front of the line to receive federal economic development funding.

The grant program actually already exists.  It was created by president Obama and designated certain cities as national manufacturing hubs.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says Rochester is one of them, now she says it’s Syracuse’s turn. 

“Right now the program is being led by the White House but our bill would codify this program into federal law. They would let us improve the infrastructure that all our manufacturers need to keep growing like roads and high-speed internet. They would also let us train more workers and give them skills they need to get the good 21st Century manufacturing jobs that we see here in the employees.”

Gillibrand joined Congressmember John Katko at Feldmeier equipment in DeWitt, one of the largest manufacturers of sanitary vessels and heat exchangers in North America.  The company has been around since 1952, and Katko hopes it and others in the sector will be able to survive and thrive after some tough years.

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
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WAER News
Examples of the vessels made at Feldmeier Equipment in DeWitt.

“The last probably generation we’ve really taken a gut shot, and it’s bills like this that can really help bring it back, and that’s what we have to do. We’re committed to doing this and many other things that we can do to help all of you not only keep your jobs and let your kids have jobs here in central NY instead of going elsewhere.”

Katko says there also has to be a focus on vocational training like welding to fill the shortage of jobs at Feldmeier and elsewhere.  Centerstate CEO President Rob Simpson says the region is well positioned to qualify as a “manufacturing community” due to its value, output per worker, and work ethic.

“There is no reason why Syracuse and Central NY cannot gain that type of designation, whether it’s the work were doing around advanced manufacturing, whether it’s the work we’re doing around food production and food processing; so many exciting opportunities for us here in this region.”

Simpson says despite all the changes in the region’s economy, manufacturing is still one of the largest sectors.  

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
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WAER News