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President Obama to visit GE plant in Schenectady

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President Barack Obama is returning to upstate New York, according to a White House press release issued Thursday.  

Details are still forthcoming (the release was only two sentences long, and one of them effectively said "details are coming").  But we do know he's expected to visit General Electric's facility in Schenectady on Tuesday, January 11.  According to the Times Union, the president will get a tour from CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

Robin Granger, vice president of communications at Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, says she's not surprised Mr. Obama is going to GE.  The Schenectady campus is hailed as the "birthplace of innovation" by the town's mayor, and Granger says the company is a global leader in the next generation of batteries.

“We’re thrilled he’s coming here. We’ll have the opportunity to show him how much businesses in Schenectady County have grown, and what a success story they are in tough economic times."

According to the Dow Jones Newswires, the Schenectady plant is a big deal for GE:

The Schenectady facility will be the future home of GE's advanced battery manufacturing facility. The plant benefited from a $750 million deal GE struck with India's Reliance Power Ltd. (532939.BY) to supply turbine equipment for a 2,400-megawatt expansion of a plant in India.

The Schenectady Gazette reports that GE's India deal could be a significant symbolic factor in the president's visit.  Back in November the president cited GE's deal as an example of international cooperation:

During his trip to India, the president made remarks about the importance of working with the fastest growing economies in the world to promote American business interests. "So often when we talk about trade and commercial relationships, the question is who’s winning and who’s losing," said the president in November. "This is a classic situation in which we can all win."

And it's not just Schenectady that's getting to claim a piece of glory.  The Post-Standard reports that a Syracuse firm helped design the plant:

There is no confirmation yet, but O’Brien & Gere is hopeful that the president will tour a battery plant it designed that is currently under construction on General Electric's Schenectady campus, said Thomas Kogut, speaking for O’Brien & Gere. The Syracuse engineering and design firm is a consultant for GE on the $100 million project announced in 2009.

Back in September 2009, President Obama visited Hudson Valley Community College in Troy to highlight the school’s high-tech program.  That visit set off a small controversy at the time, following on the heels of an incident in which the president allegedly communicated through a colleague that then-Governor David Paterson shouldn't run for reelection.  There's no word yet on whether or not Governor Cuomo will attend.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.