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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 23, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

The Oval Office

10:44 A.M. EST


MAYOR RILEY: Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: How are you doing, Mayor?

MAYOR RILEY: Well, I'm doing fine. How are you?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm great. Nice to hear your voice.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, it's great to hear yours. And we're pulling for you and just keep trying and working hard. We're in your corner. And thanks for all the tremendous cooperation we've been getting from the administration with our reconversion efforts. It's been terrific.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. As you know, I'm calling you with some good news today. The Secretary of Labor Bob Reich is awarding $15 million in defense diversification program funds to the Charleston County Employment and Training Administration.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, that's wonderful.

THE PRESIDENT: We hope it will help to retrain about 1,920 people who are being laid off from your naval complex there.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, Mr. President, that's great news. And it will be a huge help. We've got great workers with great skills. They will be making a career change, and to get the training to move from one career to another is essential. And this is terrific news for the Charleston community; it really is.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just wanted to say again to you what you and I have already talked about so many times privately, and that is that I'm committed not just to training and preparing those folks for other careers, but seeing to it that the base facilities themselves are successfully redeveloped. And I know that your Best Committee is aggressively moving forward with redevelopment planning. And I commend you for that and I just want to tell you so you can tell them that I am personally, and this whole administration, is committed to working with them and making the best use of those enormously important facilities there.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, that's wonderful. Thank you, Mr. President. We have a great committee. They've done a terrific job and I want you to know, from your people in your White House, Secretary Perry on down, the response has just -- couldn't be better and more enthusiastic and supportive. And as I told you in our private conversation, our goal -- and told Secretary Perry -- is to

make Charleston a model that you can point to of where a major reconversion occurred and occurred successfully.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know Secretary Perry and the Navy Secretary John Dalton have been down there, and I know that the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment has already provided about $2 million in planning grants. But we want to keep going and we want to assist those workers as they begin their transition to new careers. And I think you've already got a transition assistance center open on the base.

MAYOR RILEY: We do, yes, sir. A very fine one.

THE PRESIDENT: So we now will be able to provide with today's grant the full array of services through that one-stop career center there, including counseling, and basic skills remediation, and occupational skills training, and other kinds of things that we believe will really help to get people new jobs in, hopefully, as good or better than the ones they're losing. We're going to do the very best we can on that.

MAYOR RILEY: It's going to be a huge help, and we are going to make Charleston a model, one that you can proudly point to.

THE PRESIDENT: You can do it. I know you can. We'll do whatever we can to work with you.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, thank you. Thanks for everything.

THE PRESIDENT: Tell everybody in Charleston I said hello. I always love coming there, and I hope I get to come again soon.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, I will. Somebody just a couple of weeks ago gave me a picture of you and I talking on January the 1st, 1992.

THE PRESIDENT: The first stop I made in the new year, 1992.

MAYOR RILEY: That's right. Well, I've got to -- it's been marvelous chatting. I was doing the talking and they subtitled it, "Low country advise." (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it was pretty high-brow advise from the low country, I'll tell you that.

MAYOR RILEY: Well, it was heartfelt, and we're very proud of you.

THE PRESIDENT: Good luck to you.

MAYOR RILEY: Thanks for all your help.



END10:48 A.M. EST