Local execs to make use of Obama's visit

Local execs to make use of Obama’s visit
The Business Review

Capital Region business executives said they plan to leverage President Obama’s visit Friday as a development and marketing asset.

Obama toured manufacturing operations at General Electric Co.’s Schenectady campus. Obama delivered a speech touting how exports, which make up 60 percent of GE’s revenue, can generate thousands of American jobs.

“For GE to come back and reload this area is huge for us,” said David Buicko, chief operating officer of Galesi Group, a major real estate developer based in Rotterdam.

“We’re already using it as a recruiting tool. Every company we’re trying to recruit knows the president came here,” Buicko said. “It puts us on the map.”

Obama’s visit validates the investments that major manufacturing and technology companies continue to make in the region, said Angelo Mazzone. He owns high-end restaurants in Schenectady, Scotia, Albany and Saratoga Springs.

Mazzone said those developments will have a trickle-down effect, generating more activity for businesses from restaurants to tailors to convenience store chains.

“All those investments are going to lead to jobs, and all small businesses are going to be affected,” Mazzone said.

Mazzone managed to score a front-row seat to the president’s speech.

“I was shocked I even got an invitation,” he said. “I’m a little restaurant owner in upstate New York, and I’m sitting 15 feet from the president of the United States.”

Obama’s trip on Friday marked his second time in the region since taking office. Obama spoke at Hudson Valley Community College, in Troy, back in the fall of 2009.

On Friday, Obama highlighted HVCC’s manufacturing courses as a type of partnership between the education and private sectors that needs to happen more often in America. GE has graduated 30 students from the two-year training program so far, and has about 15 currently enrolled.

Drew Matonak, president of HVCC, said GE’s focus on batteries, wind turbines and other “clean-tech” products is a boost for his school and other area community colleges.

“It’s all about the transition we’re making in terms of high-tech and high-skill jobs,” Matonak said.

Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors Theater in downtown Schenectady, has had plenty of stars perform at his venue. But meeting the president was on a different level, and his visit holds a bigger meaning for the area, he said.

“He’s trying to say we’ve got something going on here,” Morris said.

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