Congressional candidate Heath Shuler Thursday toured the Industrial Opportunities Inc. (IOI) manufacturing plant in Andrews and spoke about the need to expand manufacturing opportunities in western North Carolina.
Shuler, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Charles Taylor for North Carolina's 11th District, spent Thursday visiting different sites in Cherokee County. Besides IOI, he went to many area restaurants, Murphy Medical Center and attended the Appalachian Homebuilders Association meeting.
"There aren't many of us left in town," IOI representative Dennis Myers said of manufacturing plants. "Most of the sewing has gone south."
IOI employs about 200 workers in the 70,000 square foot plant on Hwy. Bus. 19. IOI provides the actual work for people with disabilities to learn work skills and work habits. IOI produces a number of products, including products for the United States Armed Forces.
"There is not a lot of manufacturing left in the United States," Shuler said. "This county should be extremely proud of this facility."
Shuler pointed out that North Carolina has lost more than 170,000 manufacturing jobs over the last four years. He mentioned Anvil Knitwear mill in Swannanoa, which just laid off 350 people. This is a sign that not enough is being done to help American companies and workers.
Shuler said the area can concentrate on high tech jobs. "The U.S. subsidizes the insurance industry. How about subsidizing a place like this (IOI)?" he said. "We need to protect the industries we have with good trade agreements.
"For too long we have watched unfair trade policies ship out jobs overseas to places like China, Mexico and Honduras," Shuler said. "It's time we had a Congressman willing to stand up for our American jobs, American workers and American families. Shuler said that in Congress, he will work to expand research and development tax credits and provide small businesses the other tools and resources they need to compete.
A Interesting note to this is that while Heath is out with the everyday working folks ,concerned about what is happining to them ,I picked up a local paper & it had a story on Charles Taylor on the same page. Now, While folks here in the 11th District are really hurting, liveing hand to mouth,trying to just figure out how to come up with enough money to pay their bills each month and here is Heath out there with them ,What was Taylors big news? A ART CONTEST!