BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams was back in the Valley on Thursday.
Williams was the keynote speaker at the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber’s Economic Forecast Breakfast held at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman.
A few hours after the breakfast, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted to recommend the full Senate confirm Williams as head of the Economic Development Administration. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and was formerly the car czar. The committee recommendation now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Williams talked about the Mahoning Valley and how his experiences here have given him a unique perspective while traveling around the country and working with President Obama. He painted an optimistic outlook for the future of the Valley, outlining the success of U.S. automakers, stating that they are profitable, competitive and growing with sales expected to surpass 16 million units, up from 10.6 million in 2008.
“They [General Motors) are doing things in investing in technology, design, fuel efficiency. I think GM continues to recover from the brink of collapse. I think the investments the president made has been well validated, making the right call of the jobs that were saved. GM will continue to survive and do well,” Williams said.
Using Vallourec Star as an example, Williams spoke about reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and sees the United States as an energy exporter within 10 years. He also touted accomplishments at Youngstown State University, the America Makes manufacturing initiative and 3-D printing technology.
“There are a lot of things going on here in the Mahoning Valley that are directly correlated to a lot of the administration’s priorities,” said Williams. “The manufacturing renaissance that we’re seeing across the country certainly has relevance here in the Mahoning Valley.”
Williams talked about the Mahoning Valley and how the shale industry will play a role in its future economy. He touted a strong educational collaboration between Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, and the local technical schools in preparing the area’s future workforce.
“Having a high school degree is not longer enough. Someone doesn’t necessarily need a four-degree degree for some of the jobs, but some of those skills that can be obtained here in the Valley, those market-ready skills, are important. And also making sure that we continue to engage in the business and political community. When we speak, we speak with one voice,” Williams said.