By The Business Review (Albany)

President Barack Obama toured GE's Schenectady plant and was impressed.

"There's all kinds of fancy stuff being made here in this plant and it is unbelievably impressive," the president said Friday.

Obama praised GE's history and how it has adapted to the future.

"We're going back to Thomas Edison's principles," the president said. "We're going to build stuff and invent stuff."

He said it wasn't just about "what we build in Schenectady but what can be sold in Shanghai," he said.

Obama used as his backdrop for that message GE's steam turbine and generating plant, one of the largest steam turbine manufacturing plants in the world.

On his tour, the president saw steam turbines and components that are part of a large power turbine deal announced last November during the presidentâ¿¿s visit to India. Steam turbines and generators are being manufactured at the Schenectady plant for the Reliance Power Ltd. project. The project will be the largest combined-cycle project in the country.

That project helps to support more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and more than 400 engineering jobs in Schenectady. It also illustrates how GE has become one of the most international firms in the country. It has more than doubled its exports from 2001-2009. Foreign sales make up nearly 60 percent of total revenue. [For details on GE's latest earnings report, released Friday, click here].

"Ninety percent what is made here are exported outside of the U.S.," General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt said. "The future is given to no one. We have to compete. We have to win."

Obama made reference to his selecting Immelt to head his new economic recovery advisory board. Immelt joined Obama at the Schenectady plant Friday.

Obama also made references to his visit to the region in 2009 to Hudson Valley Community College. He met on the GE assembly line a worker who received his education at HVCC that prepared him for his job in Schenectady.

"You in the plant you are showing us the way forward," Obama said.

Obama said America needed to "harness this spirit, this potential, the potential that all of you represent. ... I want plants like this all across the country. You are a model of what's possible."

Immelt made reference to the Schenectady site being "the birthplace of GE more than 100 year ago. I like to think this is where capitalism and where innovation really was bornâ¿¿right here in Schenectady."

GE has 4,000 employees at the GE Energy plant in Schenectady, which includes the new battery plant and the turbine and renewable energy businesses. There are 7,000 GE employees in the Capital Region, including employees at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, GE's headquarters for research, and a GE Healthcare plant in North Greenbush.

Related stories:

Local execs to make use of Obamaâ¿¿s visit

Immelt: Schenectady key to doubling exports in next 5 years

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