Thank you Mr. Kline. Good morning and thank you to SUNY IT for hosting us here today. I would like to thank our distinguished witnesses for participating and everyone in the audience for their interest as well.
We are very fortunate to have a special guest joining us for this event. My colleague and friend sitting next to me is Congressman John Kline. Congressman Kline serves as the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee in the House of Representatives. Chairman Kline was elected to represent Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District in 2002, and was re-elected to a fifth term in 2010. Chairman Kline is an undisputed advocate for workers and employers and a champion for students, parents, and teachers. Thank you, Chairman Kline, for joining us today.
This is an official hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. This is the committee in Congress through which reforms to the No Child Left Behind law are proposed and oversight of initiatives such as Race to the Top occurs. Although we are living in difficult economic times, I am of the opinion that we now have a unique opportunity to reinvent how we educate our people -- and do it more affordably and with more accountability.
The specific topic of today's hearing is "Reviving our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development."
I hope to learn about the economic environment at the moment in the area. For our employers who have the ability to hire right now, I hope to find out more about what skill sets they are looking for. I am also interested in how local higher education institutions right here in Central New York are fostering job creation, growth and building partnerships with each other and industry to achieve one goal: building the best and most talented workforce.
We all know that our part of New York State has suffered from "brain drain" for many years. And of course, like the rest of the country, we are still recovering from the recession. Unemployment in the Utica-Rome area remains too high at about 8 percent.
We can change that. We are blessed with dozens of fine colleges and universities and burgeoning 21st century industries. I hope this hearing will help shine a spotlight on some of the collaborative efforts already underway between schools and employers -- and encourage more in the future.
One of my absolute top priorities in Congress is to find ways to help keep New York's best asset--our children--right here at home in New York. I want all of our children and theirs to have the same opportunity that we did: to live, succeed, and thrive here in Central New York. That will not be possible without the dedicated and thoughtful efforts of our higher education institutions, the innovation and resourcefulness of our local companies, and the critical support of county agencies and local officials.
So let's get the hearing underway. We have two panels of witnesses, and I would now like to recognize Chairman Kline to introduce our distinguished guests on the first panel.