Upton tours local industriesPublished 4:17pm Thursday, July 5, 2012
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton visited Dowagiac Thursday, touring two local factories and speaking at this week’s Rotary Club meeting.
The day after many in the region celebrated the country’s independence, Premier Tool and Die Cast Corporation and Ameriwood Industries welcomed Upton to their facilities. After an initial walk-through at Premier’s existing factory, Upton toured the new building across the street that Premier is readying for an August or September opening that could produce more than 100 jobs in the next two years.
“It’s a very diverse production with defense, automotive and aerospace,” Upton said after viewing parts the factory produces. “And it’s always nice to see that more people are being hired.”
Among topics discussed during the walk-through, Upton, Dowagiac Mayor Don Lyons and City Manager Kevin Anderson commented on progress made in the new facility.
“The representative’s office worked with the city on this project,” Anderson said. “Once the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) liens were off the property, we closed on the deal in January and cleanup began.”
Premier Tool and Die Cast President CEO Paul Blancaleon said having the congressman tour the Dowagiac facility was gratifying.
“It shows that he cares about the people at the local level,” Blancaleon said. “He’s helping us keep industry in the community and not outsourcing; that means a lot to us and a lot to this community.”
The role of Upton’s office played a part in obtaining the new building and he said that to see the process come together is rewarding.
“To take a vacant plant and put it back into productive use and create jobs for the community, that’s good to see,” Upton said. “The proof is in the pudding.”
After a tour of Ameriwood Industries, 202 Spaulding St., Upton attended a Rotary Club meeting at the Elks Lodge. After speaking about current projects as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which include Enbridge’s pipeline upgrades in Cassopolis, he answered questions from Rotarians.
Questions included Upton’s thoughts on local education and how it will benefit the workforce, campaign lengths and the recent healthcare reform that was deemed constitutional last week.
“I was very disappointed with that decision,” Upton said. “But I think we’ll get a second opinion from the voters in November.”