Chris Milian Photographer aerial EVENTS Photos Albany NY Events etc… Obama Schenectady visit New York Albany International Airport Snow January 21 2011 518-495-7983 www.photosfromonhigh.com Air Force One Photos

Chris Milian Photographer aerial EVENTS  Photos Albany NY Events etc... Obama Schenectady visit New York  Albany International Airport Snow January 21 2011 518-495-7983 www.photosfromonhigh.com Air Force One Photos

Chris Milian Photographer aerial Photos Albany NY Events etc… Obama Schenectady visit New York Albany International Airport Snow January 21 2011 518-495-7983 www.photosfromonhigh.com Air Force One Photos Obama lights up GE, Schenectady
Obama to GE workers: ‘Our challenge … is to harness the spirit, the potential, that you represent’
Staff Report
Updated:03:04 p.m., Friday, January 21, 2011
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President Barack Obama walks with Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, prior to boarding the Marine One helicopter en route to Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama walks with Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, prior to boarding the Marine One helicopter en route to Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Colonie High School students Jaimee Walters, 17, of Colonie, and Sidney Archie, 15 of Colonie, wait for the landing of Air Force One at Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

President Barack Obama greets supporters at Albany International Airport. (Jordan Carleo-Evangelist / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. The President is scheduled for a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011, for a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011, for a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011, for a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Air Force One followed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama salutes the crew as he leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he goes to shake hands with Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings as he leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as he leaves Air Force One after landing at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Air Force One carrying U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. The President is scheduled to tour the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

President Barak Obama addresses a gathering of workers and dignitaries at the GE plant in Schenectady January 21, 2011. (Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

President Barak Obama addresses a gathering of workers and dignitaries at the GE plant in Schenectady January 21, 2011. (Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

President Barak Obama waves to the gathering of workers and dignitaries as GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt looks on at the GE plant in Schenectady January 21, 2011. (Skip Dickstein / Times Union)

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Politicians including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, were in attendance as Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama arrives with GE CEO Jeff Immelt to speak to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama meets with GE workers during a short tour before giving a speech to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama takes a tour of the facilities with GE CEO Jeff Immelt before speaking to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama arrives with GE CEO Jeff Immelt to speak to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd gathered at General Electric in Schenectady Jan. 21, 2011. Obama said he wants to open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies to have "two-way trade, not just one-way trade." ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union )

President Barack Obama turns to wave as he returns to Air Force One at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. The President had a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

President Barack Obama turns to wave as he returns to Air Force One at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, NY on January 21, 2011. The President had a brief tour of the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

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SCHENECTADY — President Barack Obama touted General Electric’s efforts to develop a renewable energy business as a "model for America" during a speech Friday at the company’s downtown plant that focused on expanding exports to China.

Obama’s 20-minute speech at GE hit on the themes that are likely to turn up often in the months ahead: America has turned a corner out of economic collapse, but needs a reinvention on its role in the world marketplace to sustain its recovery.

"We’re going back to Thomas Edison’s principle," Obama told a standing crowd of about 400 at the GE facility in Schenectady. He said that the power products emerging from this plant would be headed to India, fulfilling the potential of a recent trade mission that secured $10 billion in exports.

"This plant is what that trip was all about," he said.

Obama also spoke for the first time about his decision to appoint GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chair of the White House’s new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

"Our challenge … is to harness the spirit, the potential, that you represent," he told GE employees gathered at a building in the complex.

"I want plants like this all across America. This is a model of what’s possible," Obama said. "We know we can compete. Not just in the industries of the past but the industries of the future."

"In this ever-shrinking world, what we build in Schenectady we can sell in Shanghai. We need to export more goods around the world. That’s where the customers are."

The President and business leaders, including Immelt, met with Chinese leaders this week and struck a deal to open Chinese markets to more U.S. products.

"Open our markets to two-way trade, not just one-way trade," Obama said to loud applause.

He also noted new trade deals with South Korea and India, saying GE is going to sell advanced turbines to India.

"This plant is what that trip was all about," he said.

Immelt introduced Obama at the GE facility, welcoming him to "the birthplace of GE more than 100 years ago."

GE has 7,000 employees in the Capital Region, Immelt said, and "I know that this team can compete with anyone."

As he greeted the crowd, Obama announced the assembled dignitaries, particularly ,"The outstanding mayor of Schenectady, who flew up with me. He looked like he was having a pretty good time: Brian Stratton is here."

GE is "part of a proud tradition" but "a lot has changed since those early days," Obama said. "We’ve seen our economy transform by rising competition from around the globe."

He mentioned that "upstate New York and places like it have seen their fair share of hard times. … What has never changed is that America is still home to the most creative and innovative people in the world."

Noting last year’s opening of GE’s renewable energy plant in Schenectady, Obama said, "Our challenge … is to harness this spirit, to harness this potential, to start and expand new business, hire and grow new workers."

"You guys are models of what’s possible," he said.

But the U.S. needs to do more in the global economy, Obama said.

Air Force One touched down at Albany International Airport shortly after noon.

Obama, followed by U.S. senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; and representatives Paul Tonko and Chris Gibson and Stratton, were greeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.

Obama shook hands with people in a crowd of supporters who were allowed onto airport property to meet the President.

During his visit to Schenectady, he will discuss jobs and his decision to appoint General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to a White House panel tasked with jump-starting job creation.

Obama picked Immelt to replace former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker in a key economic advisory post.

Immelt will chair a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He will be at Obama’s side when the President speaks about the economy and GE’s plans for green energy projects in Schenectady.

Spotted in the crowd at GE was Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, Assembly members Jim Tedisco, Bob Reilly, Jack McEneny and Ron Canenstrari, senators Neil Breslin and Ruth Hassell-Thompson; and Proctors CEO Philip Morris.

It is Obama’s second visit to the Capital Region since his 2008 election. He spoke about technology during a 2009 visit to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

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