By Tess Koman
Last Friday, Jan. 21, President Barack Obama flew into Schenectady to take a tour of the original General Electric Plant with the CEO of the company, Jeffrey Immelt, as well as to address the G.E. workers and the public.
In attendance were several important representatives from the state of New York, including Mayors Stratton (of Schenectady) and Jennings (of Albany), Representatives Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and members of the Congressional Delegation Paul Tonko, Chris Gibson, and Richard Hanna. Hundreds of General Electric workers and representatives were present as well.
President Obama’s tour of the plant itself was brief and he arrived at the podium in less than twenty minutes of his arrival. While the tour was very brief, it seemed to be influential.
“I just had a chance to see some of the high-tech steam turbines and all kinds of fancy stuff that’s being made here, being manufactured at this plant. And it is unbelievably impressive and it’s part of a proud tradition, because G.E. has been producing turbines and generators here in Schenectady for more than a century,” said the President.
President Obama proceeded to discuss how G.E. has been an enormous frontrunner in this “difficult, difficult crisis.” He had been working closely with Jeffrey Immelt over the past two years and credits him and his advisors for achieving his goal of doubling American exports.
Not only did the president laud Immelt for constantly creating reputable jobs for the American workforce across the country, but also because he “helped steer our nation from deep recession into recovery; helped take the economy from one that’s shrinking to one that’s growing.”
General Electric has been instrumental in the President’s plan to immensely increase American exports. The plant in Schenectady has been manufacturing an advanced wind turbine that will generate power at a plant in Samalkot, India. President Obama recently struck a deal with a new business there, which is, “going to help support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs right here in this community.” He explained that he is making an effort to create as many overseas deals involving General Electric as possible because “when a company sells products overseas, it leads to hiring on our shores…that means
jobs in Schenectady. That’s how we create opportunities for our people.” The President is drawing from what he calls, “Thomas Edison’s principles.” “We’re going to build stuff and invent stuff,” he insisted.
After commending Jeff Immelt, appointing him Chair of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, as well as praising the progress being made at the G.E. plant, the President went on to discuss progress being made in Schenectady. He met with employees at the plant and was very impressed by the caliber of the work he observed.
“Schenectady offers that kind of example…Here in Schenectady, you’re heirs to a great tradition of innovation and enterprise,” said the President. He mentioned the promise Schenectady shows through its businesses and new enterprises and expressed his belief that what he saw at the G.E. plant here in Schenectady embodies the American spirit.
“We still have that spirit of invention,” President Obama encouraged. “And that sense of optimism, that belief that if we work hard and we give it our all, that anything is possible in this country. The future belongs to us! And you at this plant, you are showing us the way forward. So thank you so much, everybody. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”
He was met with a standing ovation.