Gov. candidate tries hand at Modineer plant linePublished 8:50am Monday, April 12, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
“I think I may have cost your company $25,” he said with a laugh.
The new worker getting trained at Modineer Fabrication in Niles had made a mistake when putting a screw into a military Humvee part.
But it’s safe to say U.S. representative and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra is forgiven.
Hoekstra, R-Holland, was at the auto, defense and commercial manufacturing plant Friday afternoon as a part of his “100 Jobs/1,000 Miles” campaign. The politician is in the process of working 100 different Michigan jobs and riding his bike 1,000 miles across the state to chat with everyday workers and find out what issues are important to them.
Hoekstra asked Modineer CEO Edward Hamilton if Michigan is a good place to do business and about the state of the economic climate in the state.
“It’s challenging,” Hamilton told Hoekstra. “But we have a tremendously skilled work force.”
Because of the many unemployed people in the state, “I have the pick of the litter to bring in top-notch players. There is a lot of talent out there,” Hamilton said.
After getting a tour of the defense manufacturing plant, Hoekstra said there is “tremendous potential” for defense manufacturing in Michigan.
“We already have the skilled workforce,” he said, referencing the many laid off auto manufacturing workers.
“It’s just a different way of doing business,” he said. “It’s different selling to a private sector.”
Hoekstra also told Hamilton and other Modineer workers that the current Michigan tax structure is not benefiting businesses like Modineer.
“The tax structure is crazy and needs to be fixed,” he said. “The tax structure needs to encourage you to go out and buy the newest stuff.”
Hoekstra supports eliminating the Michigan Business Tax, which he says would draw more businesses and jobs to the state.
The candidate seemed impressed with Modineer and enjoyed seeing the process of manufacturing defense parts.
“I’ve seen them on the other end,” said Hoekstra, who has been to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times.
The workers at Modineer were happy to see Hoekstra there as well.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet him. Just a win-win for everybody,” Ricky Ruiz, a general production worker at Modineer said. “It shows our world to him and we get to see some of his world.”
After his visit to Modineer, Hoekstra wrote an entry on his blog about the experience.
“Quality was the buzzword. Get it done right or the parts come back,” he wrote. “Don’t you wish government had that type of quality focus? Secure Michigan’s future, get government out of the way, create an environment that supports business!”
Hoekstra was the first candidate to get his name on the ballot when he submitted the necessary signatures last week and leads many primary polls. Candidates must turn in the signatures by mid-May to be eligible for the August primary.
Other Republicans seeking nomination to face Hoekstra are state Sen. Tom George, Attorney General Mike Cox, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Ann Arbor business leader Rick Snyder.
Democratic hopefuls in the governor race are House Speaker Andy Dillon, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith.