By Denise Richardson
The president's visit today to Troy is a boost to higher education and to the state, two local Democrats said Sunday.
President Barack Obama will visit Hudson Valley Community College this morning to speak about the importance of community colleges to economic recovery.
Selecting HVCC was a ``great idea'' for Obama to focus his support of job readiness and spurring the economy, Oneonta Mayor John Nader said.
Obama's visit comes days after the state Department of Labor reported higher unemployment levels. The state's unemployment rate, after seasonal adjustment, increased from 8.6 percent in July to 9 percent in August. In August 2008, the state's rate was 5.7 percent.
The U.S. rate was 9.7 percent in August 2009, up from 9.4 percent in July, according to a media release from the state. In August 2008, the nation's rate was 6.2 percent.
Nader, dean of liberal arts and sciences at the State University College of Technology at Delhi, said SUNY Delhi and HVCC are similar institutions, though HVCC is larger.
HVCC excels at preparing students for jobs, Nader said. The president could have chosen from many other schools in the Albany area, but selecting HVCC emphasizes his support for access to public higher education, Nader said.
HVCC is about 75 miles from Oneonta. Graduates study for associate's degrees and certificates in more than 70 areas in four academic schools _ business; engineering and industrial technologies; health sciences; and liberal arts and sciences. According to the HVCC website, about half of the 2009 graduating class would enter the work force and about half would transfer to a four-year college or university.
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Nader said he didn't receive an invitation or expect one to today's visit _ which will focus on policy rather than rallying the public _ because of the number of elected leaders and dignitaries in the region.
The speech is a small, invitation-only event to be held in an HVCC automotive lab, the White House said, and no public tickets were available. A live Web stream of the visit will be available at www.hvcc.edu/obamavisit, officials said.
Obama will be accompanied by Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president, who is a faculty member at a community college in the Washington, D.C., area.
The president is scheduled to arrive when Air Force One lands at the Albany International Airport at 11 a.m. today, officials said, and his departure will be at about 1:10 p.m.
At the airport, Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, will greet Obama before joining the president at HVCC.
The arrival and departure will be closed to the public, officials said.
Edward Lentz, chairman of the Otsego County Democratic Committee, said the president's visit will highlight educational and economic activities in New York state and this region.
``It's got to be good,'' Lentz said.
Gov. David Paterson has said the Obama administration estimates that New York will create and retain 215,000 jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as stimulus funding, The Associated Press reported. Paterson is expected to attend the HVCC event today.
Upstate's recent successes have largely been in the technology sector, where grants for projects at the State University of New York and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have helped create jobs and crank out qualified tech workers, The AP said.
Earlier this year, work started on a $4.2 billion computer-chip plant supplying Advanced Micro Devices Inc. New York committed $1.2 billion to land the GlobalFoundries' factory, which is expected to create 1,400 jobs at an industrial park in the Saratoga County town of Malta, The AP said.