EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 11, 2014

Tsongas, Tierney share ideas for boosting Merrimack Valley economy

ANDOVER — Speaking to 200 politicians, business and community leaders yesterday, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas and Rep. John Tierney highlighted ways the federal government can help in stabilizing the economy in the Merrimack Valley.

“We need to work together with community colleges and career centers to maximize jobs,” said Tierney, who represents the 6th District, which is made up of 36 cities and towns including Salisbury, Merrimac, Newburyport and North Andover.

The two were guest speakers at a Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce’s “A Special Report from Washington” yesterday at Wyndham Andover Hotel.

In January, Tierney introduced legislation that would extend federal unemployment benefits insurance for three months. He said there are 1.7 million unemployed people nationally including 60,000 in Massachusetts and 20,000 veterans.

Tsongas agrees.

“On the policy level, extending the unemployment benefits is a response to an emergency situation,” said Tsongas, who represents the 3rd District.

Tierney said there should also be more investment in highways, waterways as well as science and research to help area hospitals, research centers and medical schools.

“This is an investment that pays back over and over again and we need to do that,” he said.

Tsongas said she has noticed companies who sent their products to be manufactured overseas are bringing the work back to the U.S. to save time and solve problems quicker.

“We as a nation like American products,” Tsongas said. In fact, she said men and women serving in the military use training shoes made at New Balance and other factories in the U.S.

Tierney also told the attendees that the interest rate on student loans should be lowered as a way to stimulate the economy.

“We shouldn’t be profiting on the back of students’ loans,” he said, adding last year $81 million was netted from interest paid on the loans.

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