Mayors hope Obama's E.V. visit focuses on jobs - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Mayors hope Obama's E.V. visit focuses on jobs

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Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:59 am | Updated: 12:44 pm, Wed Jan 25, 2012.

President Barack Obama will visit Chandler's Intel manufacturing plant Today as part of a five-state tour to sell his election-year economic plan following last night's State of the Union address.

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said he predicted Obama would come to the city as soon as he heard news reports that the president is unveiling a job-creation plan.

"I assumed that he would come to Intel," Tibshraeny said. "This is a project of international acclaim because of the magnitude of the project and the company as well, Intel. So it's not a surprise."

Intel is in the midst of a $5 billion expansion at the Chandler facility, which is considered one of the largest construction projects in the world. It is expected to employ an additional 1,000 workers when it opens next year.

In a preview video released over the weekend, Obama called for more U.S. manufacturing, domestic energy production and worker training for the jobs of tomorrow.

Chandler fits into that message, Tibshraeny said, because Intel is a prime example of a technological company that's creating high-wage jobs. But he said various levels of government have to work together to get companies like Intel.

"The infrastructure requirement to locate projects of that magnitude is very encompassing," Tibshraeny said. "If anything, I'd like to see how the state government and the federal government can partner with the local entities to attract and retain these industries."

Tibshraeny said he believes Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Chandler.

He said he didn't know yet what involvement he may have during Obama's visit. Likewise, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said details were still being worked out for the president's East Valley visit, including whether he'd get any time with Obama.

Smith is fresh out of meeting with the president during a trip last week to Washington for a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Smith, a Republican, said he had a couple of minutes of one-on-one time with Obama and reiterated previous conversations about regulatory reform.

Smith said Obama's call for job training is a "good start" and something the mayors' organization has fought for. A lack of training is holding back job growth locally, Smith said. Able Engineering, an aircraft maintenance company in Mesa, has told the city it's having trouble finding enough qualified engineers and project managers. Able is expanding its Mesa facility and its average annual salary is $100,000.

"There are millions of jobs in our economy that are not being filled because we don't have enough adequately trained workers," Smith said.

Government and industry traditionally worked together to improve the skills of the nation's workforce, but those programs have been slashed recently, he said.

"It's unfortunate because these are the types of programs that more than pay for themselves," Smith said. "To me, this is a dumb cut."

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