PREBLE — President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, visited Suit-Kote headquarters in Preble this morning with Rep. Claudia Tenney for a campaign-year appearance that discussed the challenges and successes of businesses in the 22nd Congressional District.
Trump and Tenney (R-New Hartford) addressed about 150 people, including business leaders, legislators and Republican Party members at a roundtable discussion centered around Trump initiatives and their effect on Cortland’s business climate.
Outside, about 30 people stood along Route 281 in Preble to protest.
“What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now,” protesters yelled.
Organizers began putting the protest together Friday, with many gathering around 7:30 a.m. Their plan was to stay as long as Trump is in town.
Frank Suits Jr., owner of Suit-Kote, told Ivanka Trump that thanks to her father’s tax reform bill, he gave his employees a 5 percent raise this year.
“The same week tax reform hit our employees, we came out with a matching 2.5 percent increase,” Suits said. “I didn’t say that for the sake of applause but now we have so much more freedom to run a business and prepare for an industry where there will be tremendous growth.”
Trump laughed and thanked Suits for his vote of confidence, because he had been planning for tax reform six months in advance of it.
“You knew that if the president said he was going to do it, he was going to get it done,” Trump said.
“Well Ivanka, this is not complicated stuff,” Suits said, noting the need to invest in businesses.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency, said some difficulties face local workers, some of whom have been sitting on the sidelines for years.
Unemployment is down in Cortland County to 4.5 percent from 5 percent a year ago, but that’s only because the county lost 600 workers, to 22,500 from 23,100.
The number of people with jobs dropped 500 to 21,400 from 21,900, show state Labor Department data from May.
VanGorder said initiatives like partnering businesses and high schools through career and technical education programs are promising and he continues to hope for more help with work force development initiatives.
Two working mothers, one of whom was Frank Suits’ daughter, Emily, told how important it is to them to be able to juggle both motherhood and careers, something with which the child care tax credit helps.
Trump said a measure in the recently passed omnibus bill that increases funding for the child care block grant, funding that goes through the state to childcare centers.
“An expansion of the childcare development block grants for the states went from $2.8 billion to $5.2 billion,” Trump said. “That goes directly to states to offset costs of childcare for working parents because it’s become too expensive and too difficult to locate, we need to figure out a way how we can fix the system.”
Staff Reporter Jacob DeRochie contributed to this report.