U.S. Senator Brown speaking at Athens conference

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Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is in Athens today talking about economic growth in Appalachia.

He's speaking at a conference called "Positioning Appalachia: Economic Growth Strategies for Success."

The conference focuses on the future of manufacturing in Ohio, business incubation, rural economic development, and new market opportunities.

Brown says Southeast Ohio is critical in the effort to make Ohio the Silicon Valley of Clean Energy Manufacturing.

"It's been a neglected area in many ways for far too long.  Ohio is number two in the country in solar jobs.  We're doing well in wind turbine technology.  Athens has the association for incubators for the whole country." said Brown.

Brown says the recent U.S. debt ceiling crisis and stock market plunge show how delicate the economy is and how important it is to create opportunities for job growth.

"When Barack Obama became president we were losing 700,000 jobs a month.  The last 14, 15 months, we've seen job growth, not great job growth.  We've seen some growth in manufacturing about every month.  So, we're on the right path, but not anywhere yet where we need to be." said Brown.

Brown thinks the 2012 Farm Bill can help agricultural producers and small businesses break into the renewable energy sector.

The conference is being held at the Ohio University Inn.