Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Forbes highlights manufacturing innovation, roadblocks in trip
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Aug 26, 2014, 16:14

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Congressman J. Randy Forbes, R-4th, visited Evonik in Hopewell on Thursday, Aug. 21.
HOPEWELL — Local Congressman Randy Forbes, R-Va., came to the Tri-Cities to visit manufacturing plants to not only discuss the tenacity of American workers but the regulations the workers are facing that could potentially find them out of a job. 

“One of the things I think you have to take away is the tremendous pride that our American workers have in their jobs and what they do in those plants. Then when you also listen to them, you find that the biggest worry that they have right now is that they are being overly regulated with regulations that often times don’t mean anything,” Forbes said. “And have no nexus between what we’re trying to really accomplish and the result is that it’s putting more and more pressure on those jobs and we worry that it could cause those jobs to go away.” 

Forbes made stops at Honeywell International, Evonik Goldschmidt Corp., the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, RockTenn in Henrico and MeadWestvaco in Richmond. He said the future for manufacturing was right in “this corridor.” 

While visiting CCAM in Prince George, Forbes discussed taking the future of manufacturing to the “next level,” and said it will be made possible by continued partnerships. 

“We want to not just look at how we can do manufacturing better today but we want to look at it as strategically,” he said. “How do we utilize that cooperative nature with CCAM ... which is bringing industry together, universities together, government together, so that we can develop a strategy which will help bring more and better manufacturing to our area and to Virginia.” 

He also said the processes that were being completed at CCAM were the “wave of the future.” 

“We’re seeing a transition into manufacturing that can be state of the art for the whole world,” Forbes said. “It’s no longer just machines where people are going in there and working in hot conditions and bad conditions. A lot of this will be state of the art, which will be based on computer operations with people utilizing them which is going to mean the jobs are going to produce even more and they’re going to be a great quality of life.” 

For American workers to have that quality of life, Forbes said there need to be less regulation placed on the backs of not only the manufacturing plants but the workers. He continued, saying many of the regulations are not needed. 

He gave the example of Greensville County. Forbes said the county has worked for several years to secure a reservoir to be able to bring in more manufacturing plants. He added that many plants had already committed to making a home in the county. 

Just this month, Forbes said, the county found that because of a particular species of bat, the county may be denied the permit to begin construction of the reservoir. 

“There’s no evidence it’s ever been there,” Forbes said of the bat species. “... We may lose all of those jobs, all of that water supply, everything because of something that may not ever even have existed.” 

Forbes said the government just needs to practice common sense when developing and enforcing regulations on the plants. He said many of the companies already have in place programs to help protect the environment.

“Nobody wants to pollute our rivers or our air, just the opposite,” he said. “... But more and more, on a regular basis, you see these agencies today just coming up with this off the wall stuff that just kills thousands and thousands of jobs.” 

After spending time with many workers at the local plants and participating in roundtable discussions with industry leaders, Forbes said he walked away with a positive impression of the workforce that is in place. 

“One of the things you realize when you go and visit these plants and talk to the folks there, you realize what great workers we have in America, what a wonderful job they do how much their jobs mean to them,” he said. “And then it makes you want to roll your sleeves up and make sure that we’re not fighting to put them out of business with all these crazy regulations that we try to put on them, that sometimes just gives them an unfair disadvantage with their international competitors.” 

For Forbes, his focus has been on manufacturing and job growth for much of his administration. He has received the National Association of Manufacturers’ Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence, the “Guardian of Small Business” Award by the National Federation of Independent Business and the “Spirit of Enterprise Award” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“I’m just glad to see those people having jobs and I think it’s great because we’re employing an awful lot of people in our area which I think is very important,” Forbes said. 

His visit to the plants comes a couple months before the upcoming November elections. Forbes will face Elliott Fausz, D-Va., who runs the Village News newspaper out of Chester. 

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