U.S. Rep. Bill Owens says the North Country could benefit from an expansion of Canadian businesses into New York state, but his Republican challenger in this fall's election calls the proposal an "attempt to distract from his lousy jobs record."
Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, traveled to Cornwall, Ontario, this week and met with the city's Chamber of Commerce as well as business owners. According to a press release he issued, the goal was to "promote Northern New York as a region ready to take on new economic development."
Owens said the North Country's proximity to Canada already supports some 20,000 jobs across the region and has the potential to spur more economic growth.
Rep. Bill Owens, left, and Matt Doheny
(Enterprise file photos)
"With the implementation of the Beyond the Border Agreement, we have a great opportunity to increase cross-border trade and bring Canadian businesses into New York," Owens said in a prepared statement.
Owens said strengthening the trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada has helped the region's economy. He said expansion of duty exemptions for Canadian shoppers visiting New York resulted in a 4.5 percent increase in traffic at border entry points in Massena, Alexandria Bay and Champlain.
Last week, Owens urged U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work to lift trade barriers that hurt New York wineries.
Responding to Owens' most recent effort to attract more Canadian businesses, Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, the Republican, Conservative and Independence party nominee running against Owens, again pointed to unemployment figures in the North Country.
"My opponent is hiding from the fact that we have 5,276 more people unemployed now in his district than we did when he took office," Doheny said in an emailed statement. "He's now scrambling to save his job, so he's hucked a Hail Mary toward Canada."
Doheny said Owens' support for President Barack Obama's agenda, which he says is "anti-growth," has created a "disincentive" for job creation. He said he's committed to lowering taxes and cutting bureaucratic red tape.
Doheny said he would be a "salesman-in-chief" for New York's 21st Congressional District "so that we can bring jobs here from other states and other countries."
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