US Senate Confirms Jay Williams as EDA Director

WASHINGTON -- Jay Williams, former mayor of Youngstown, was confirmed today by the U.S. Senate to serve as head of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Williams, who stepped down as mayor in 2011 to serve as director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, was confirmed on a voice vote just before 12:30 p.m. His title is assistant commerce secretary for economic development. President Obama nominated Williams to the post last year.

Before being elected Youngstown mayor in 2005, Williams was the city's community development director. Concurrent with his Labor Department post, he served for a time as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, quickly hailed the news, stating he has worked with Williams on economic development at the local and federal levels and that the president could not have chosen a more qualified person for the position.

“His knowledge and work ethic will serve him and our nation well as he leads the Economic Development Agency,” Ryan said in a statement .

“Youngstown’s recent trajectory with downtown redevelopment, the building of the Vallourec Star mill, and numerous other projects speak to the leadership of Jay Williams when he served as mayor of Youngstown,” Ryan continued. “I know he will continue to be a great public servant and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him to bring federal resources back to northeastern Ohio.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who introduced Williams at December's confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, also released a statement lauding Williams and today's confirmation vote.
“I congratulate Jay Williams on his confirmation and know that he will continue to serve his country and hometown honorably,” Brown said. “As President Obama’s former top advisor for auto communities, Jay understands how to strengthen our economy and was instrumental in helping communities take the next steps following the auto rescue. I look forward to working with Jay on the important task of creating jobs and economic opportunity for our country and the Mahoning Valley.”

Also offering his congratulations was U.S. Sen. Rob. Portman, R-Ohio. "Jay’s impressive record of service in the Mahoning Valley and Washington makes him uniquely qualified to serve as assistant secretary for economic development,” Portman said in his statement released by his office. “It’s crucial that we’re doing everything possible to create jobs and grow our economy, and I congratulate Jay for being confirmed to serve in this important position.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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