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Panel mulls workforce issues

Four local political leaders gathered at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Colonie on Wednesday, Feb. 11, to discuss ways in which their communities can join forces to stimulate the workforce in the Capital District.

Albany County Executive Michael Breslin, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, City of Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings and Chairman of the Schoharie Board of Supervisors Earl Van Wormer gathered for the panel discussion, moderated by WMHT-TV's New York Now Host Susan Arbetter.

Arbetter asked questions about what is being done to promote a better workforce that attracts non-Capital District residents to relocate to the area, as well as keep those who are ready to leave here in place.

The beginning of the hourlong panel discussion was focused on Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD, a global computing circuits and communications company that is planning for its Malta facility to be operational by the year 2012. The company expects to employ nearly 1,465 and will be receiving about $1.2 billion in state funding.

Arbetter asked Jimino how she would keep big companies, like AMD, attracted to the area despite other local businesses crumbling before them.

"If we can help our existing businesses to succeed, they will know that we can provide them with what they need," Jimino said.

Jennings emphasized the benefits of having a company like AMD in the area.

"We want new development, we want new jobs," he said. "We don't want to take any from any other community."

Arbetter, addressing Breslin, also asked, "What are you doing to ensure workers in Albany County are ready to work in big companies like AMD?"

Breslin focused on the training of the workers in the county, talking about a bridge that needs to be built between the educational realm and the employment realm.

"[We need to] get our companies and schools hooked up to one another," he said. Breslin also said that, "the high-tech jobs don't resonate with a lot of people," and that by training workers to be prepared with big companies like AMD, they will be more successful in their positions.

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