Assemblywoman Jenne Statement in Response to the President's Suggestion that Upstate New Yorkers Move Out of State to Find Employment Opportunities

July 28, 2017

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne has issued the following statement in response to the president's suggestion to the Wall Street Journal that upstate New Yorkers should forget their homes and just move out of state to find employment opportunities.

I'm shocked by the president's suggestion that upstate New Yorkers should leave the region to find employment. This is especially surprising because they are dramatically different than the remarks he made at the Dexter Airport last year when he told the Watertown crowd he was going to bring their jobs back.

That's why his words this week sting so much. We aren't quitters in the North Country. That's just not who we are. Many of us have deep ties to the land and connections to family members that need our help. Many of us just can't pick up and leave.

My family, like many others, has lived in the North Country for generations. We've faced tough times here before, but we have stayed because we love the region and our neighbors. We've worked to turn things around in the past, and we will do it again.

That's why I fight every day to bring new employment opportunities to our region and work to ensure our schools and colleges have the funding they need to graduate students that are ready for the workforce. We’ve made some improvements and we need to keep making more to help turn our economy around. Instead of tearing communities apart and pitting people against each other, we need to work together.

I'm focused on creating jobs and strengthening our economy, and the president should be doing the same. He needs to have a focus on the economy and include smart investments in the budget process to get that work done.

I think this president - like all presidents - has a small window to live up to the promises he made when he was a candidate.

Many of his supporters in the North Country voted for the president because they believed him when he said he was going to bring new jobs to our region, the state and the nation.

That needs to be his top priority instead of trying to take away health care from over 20 million Americans. We need to work together instead of tearing communities apart and pitting people against each other.

The president should be focusing on strengthening our manufacturing economy and on the federal budget to put programs in place that create short-term jobs like infrastructure improvements in areas like communities on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River that have suffered flooding damage this spring and summer.

Those improvements and the jobs they would create are also critical to our long-term efforts to grow our marine based economy in the region.

He needs to look at steps he can take to strengthen the steel and aluminum industries in this region and around the country from the threats they face in today's global economy.

The aluminum plant in Massena has the potential to play an important part in our national defense effort, as it has in the past, by continuing to smelt aluminum in the United States. Our president can take steps to help convince Alcoa and Arconic to make sure that happens.

We also have far more bridges and roads in disrepair than we can afford to repair or replace with state and local dollars. It's another opportunity to direct federal dollars to a program that can create jobs in the short-term and provide the infrastructure we need to grow our economy in the long-term including a four-lane highway across the top of our region.

It is no secret that the economic challenges facing our region are significant. But we have already seen too many people leave the North Country to find employment with a living wage. The answer is not rolling up a train and filling it with people headed outbound with no return trip home.

The answer is having local, state and federal officials working together with business people and entrepreneurs to grow jobs in our region. Our region is filled with hard working, smart and talented employees that would be an asset to any company.

North Country residents are tough and resilient and when things get tough we stand and fight. We don't flee. We need our president to join us in this fight, not urge us to run away.