Owens: Natural resources, Canada critical to job growth

Congressman Bill Owens says the North Country needs to focus economic development initiatives on its natural resources.

Hosting his first in-person town hall meeting of 2011 late last month, Owens told constituents that the national economy is slowly recovering, but the job market remains stagnant.

According to Owens, the 23rd district can look to its neighbor to the north, Canada, as a means of invigorating the economy.

"We have an area in Ogdensburg that has developed a little bit of a 'defense pocket' that has arisen out of the defense industry that exists in Ottawa," he said.

"Those companies have come down and begun to develop companies and projects here in the United States," Owens added. "We're currently working on something called the EB-5 program, which invites investors to the U.S. If they invest in a community, the get a visa - not necessarily to live here - if they invest about a million dollars into a business in a community."

Additionally, Owens says the abundance of trees in northern New York provides a great source of potential wealth for the North Country.

"We have to look at the ability to use the Adirondack forest for a variety of programs," he said. "We have an energy company in Ogdensburg that would like to convert an existing power plant to a biofuels plant - we have the same thing going on in Fort Drum. That's how we're going to have to create jobs - that's how we're going to be able to bring back, if you will, living wage jobs."

Owens says a recent deal with Canadian-based Laurentian Aerospace to build a S175 million air carrier service facility in Plattsburgh will bring nearly 1,000 jobs to Clinton County.

He used that as an example of why the North Country should open its doors to Canadian business.

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