Schumer: Westchester Can Be Engine of Economic Growth

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Senator Chuck Schumer addresses Westchester County business leaders at a Business Council of Westchester breakfast Monday morning.
Senator Chuck Schumer addresses Westchester County business leaders at a Business Council of Westchester breakfast Monday morning

America’s economy is on the road to recovery — just as long as its leaders address the deficit, reform education and revamp the immigration system, Senator Chuck Schumer told about 150 business leaders Monday morning.

Speaking at the Key Bank Speaker Series hosted by the Business Council of Westchester in Tarrytown, Schumer said the nation’s on the right path.

“If we can do those three things and deal with the deficit, we will stay the greatest country in the world for a long time, for a very long time,” Schumer said. “American politics always goes to the extremes and then fixes itself. It works in a clumsy, not-always-pleasant-to-look-at way, but it generally works.”

Schumer’s speech was the second installment of the Key Bank series this year. New York’s other senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, previously addressed the group.

The senator said it’s important to make it easier for foreign students who study at American universities to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship. The key is to not change overall immigration numbers, he said, but to make it easier for legal immigrants and harder for illegal immigrants.

“We attract the brightest people the world, and then we kick them out. But we let in anyone who runs across the border,” he said.

The solution is to be “smarter and much more generous on legal immigrants,” he said.

As for education, Schumer said it’s important to combine the Republican goal of stricter standards with the Democratic mission of increased funding.

“You have to marry the two — more money for more standards,” he said. “The quality of our schools is the most important issue facing our country.”

Schumer said Westchester County has the ability to be a driving engine of the economic recovery if it focuses on developing biotechnology, the food and beverage industries and the Hudson River waterfront.

“The Hudson Valley should be a place where the nation turns to, particularly when it needs a new vaccine,” he said, citing Regeneron in Tarrytown as one positive example of biotechnology in the region.

It’s important to “use the Hudson as a tourist mecca,” he said.

“Peekskill is doing a very good job in transforming its waterfront,” he said, saluting Mayor Mary Foster, who was in attendance. “But the waterfront is a tremendous opportunity, and my promise … is to try to cut down on that red tape.”

After the event, Foster said she was most excited to hear the senator discuss the need for infrastructure improvements throughout New York.

“Construction jobs in our region have been very, very important in moving the economy forward,” she said. “It’s an economic development boon in our community when our roads look and feel safer.”

Schumer told the group he’s committed to addressing emerging American issues and making sure the fruits of his labor come back to his constituents.

“As we solve [problems] nationally, one of the places that’s going to benefit the most … is a county like Westchester, which has all the resources to tackle the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

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