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Congressman Bill Owens visits Capital Region

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Albany/HV: Congressman Bill Owens visits Capital Region
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Congressman Bill Owens may not be a familiar face around all parts of the region, but that will likely change now that his newly formed district includes the northern portion of the Capital Region. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, the Democrat from Plattsburgh used his public visit since the re-districting process was finalized to talk about job growth.

GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y. -- "Finding a job is something I wake up every morning hoping I can do.”

Only 22 and a new mother, Gloversville resident Katie Smith must also deal with the day to day struggle of not having a job.

"Raising a daughter who's only nine-months-old and trying to support her and pay the bills, it's hard," Smith said.

Smith, who has a GED and last worked for Cumberland Farms, has been out of work since November 2010. She spends many of her days at the Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie County Workforce Solutions Center in Gloversville.

On Tuesday, Congressman Bill Owens from Plattsburgh toured the center and met with staff to talk about the struggles in Fulton County, where the unemployment rate tops 11 percent.

"What I'm trying to do is learn from the folks who are on the ground. I think it's very important to get their feedback, to get their knowledge so we can assist them," Owens said.

According to the center's executive director, Gail Breen, the federally funded office has seen its resources cut by 56 percent in the past 12 years. She's calling on Owens' office to help.

"We're always talking about how do you do more with less,” Breen said. “Well, sooner or later, it reaches the point where not only can you not do more with less, you can't do the same you used to do."

If re-elected in November, the Plattsburgh Democrat will represent the newly formed 21st Congressional District, which now includes the northern edge of the Capital Region, thanks to the redistricting process.

Tuesday's visit was Owens first to the region since the new lines were drawn. He and others are hopeful his experience dealing with the North Country's high unemployment rate will pay dividends here.

"Clearly, in terms of geography, it has changed. I think the issues remain the same, however,” Owens said after his visit. “I think when we look at what are the questions people are concerned about, the first question is jobs."

"So it is hard but sometimes you've just got to deal with what you get until you can find what better suits your living, I guess," Smith said.

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