A message from the president: “While they could have gone any place in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville. They saw the most promise in this workforce, so they chose to invest in Asheville, in North Carolina, in the United States of America,” President Barack Obama said during a post-State of the Union stop at the Linamar plant in south Asheville. Photo by Max Cooper
Less than 24 hours after he delivered the State of the Union address to the nation, President Barack Obama delivered a 20-minute speech to about 200-300 people at Linamar Corp., where he emphasized the importance of manufacturing jobs in relation to building a stronger middle-class.
“While they could have gone any place in the world, they saw this incredible potential right here in Asheville. They saw the most promise in this workforce, so they chose to invest in Asheville, in North Carolina, in the United States of America,” he said.
Obama said this kind of work should be happening across the country. He offered a four-pronged approach to accelerate manufacturing jobs: Create more centers for high-tech manufacturing, reform the tax code to be more competitive, partner with local leaders to attract manufacturing jobs (especially when the town has lost manufacturing jobs) and help workers get the training they need.
But Obama did not use a business to illustrate his point. Instead, he used the story of the Linamar quality technician he met during a tour of the facility: Jeff Brower. The technician used to work at Volvo Construction Company, but lost his job shortly after he and his wife discovered they would be having twins — and Volvo closed the plant. But Brower went back to school and was eventually hired by Linamar.
“He decided it was time for him to change careers. He decided it was time to get some new skills. He went to AB-Technology [A-B Tech], took a class in automated machining. A few months ago, Jeff got his diploma. He graduated on a Wednesday, interviewed at this plant on Thursday. By Friday, he was working as a machine operator,” Obama said, adding, “That’s the American story. We don’t give up. We get up. We innovate. We adapt. We learn new skills. We keep going.”
Speaking to Xpress after the presidential event, Bower said that he believes in Obama's approach.
“The backbone of our country is manufacturing. I think that's what we were built on, and I think we need to continue that,” he said. “Anything can be done. This is America.”
Caitlin Byrd can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 140, or firstname.lastname@example.org.