December 1, 2013

Editorial: Links to Canada benefit economy

We certainly want to avoid the appearance of rejoicing over news that giant aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin wants to close its plant near Syracuse.

On the contrary, we are sympathetic and empathetic with that region, which is struggling with a shaky economy with fewer and fewer industrial powers to prop it up.

At stake are 1,600 jobs — not minimum-wage kinds of jobs, but highly skilled, highly paid positions filled by experienced employees.

Syracuse has already lost plants owned and run by General Motors, Carrier and Chrysler. Lockheed Martin, in nearby Salinas, is the last of a long line of companies that have historically kept Central New York bustling and prosperous.

The 1,600 people at Lockheed Martin would face having to find new employment or move out of the area to another of the company’s plants, if jobs are even available elsewhere.

Fortunately for Salinas, Syracuse and the 1,600 employees, a reporter from the Syracuse Post-Standard learned of Lockheed Martin’s secret plans to close, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) intervened to buy some time.

But it does remind us in the North Country that, while we are not exactly managing an economy to drive the entire state, our proximity and partnership with Canada — and primarily Montreal — gives us a financial atmosphere that, to date, anyway, has kept us relatively comfortable.

Among our industrial staples are Canadian-based Bombardier and Nova Bus, makers of trains and buses. While defense contractors are constantly at the whim of federal budgets, no municipal transportation authority can allow its fleet to wear out and run down.

The North Country being so close to Quebec and Montreal gives us a huge advantage in courting their industries. They need a foot in the lucrative U.S. markets because purchasing is often contingent on manufacture being at least partially achieved in America.

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