The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and its affiliate, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, partnered with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber on Tuesday to host a panel discussion on infrastructure development and investment.
Expanding infrastructure is “great for the economy, great for the workers, middle-class jobs that are secure with benefits and pensions and good retirements, so it’s all good,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) told WKBN News during the “Fueling America’s Future: Accelerating Energy and Transportation Infrastructure” event.
The bipartisan discussion included Rep. Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio’s 13th District, and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), a Republican who represents Ohio’s 6th District. They were joined by Rocco DiGennaro Jr., president of the Western Reserve Building Trades; David Ledonne, vice president for operations in the Utica Shale and Appalachia for MarkWest/MPLX; and moderator Ryan Augsburger, managing director of public policy for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.
“We know based on what we hear from our members that the support for transportation and energy infrastructure comes from all corners of the state,” Augsburger said in kicking off the event for about 100 members of the business and civic community who attended. “It crosses party lines, as you’ll see here today with the congressmen, and it transcends just about every demographic group you can imagine.”
The panel members answered questions from the audience about critical pieces of infrastructure, such as pipelines, roads, bridges, power plants and how investment in them can help bring manufacturing back to Ohio. The speakers conveyed a sense of optimism over plans for development.
DiGennaro explained how 500 of his union members would be working on a natural gas–fired power plant next year and how eager his members are to work on ethane cracker plants as well. Ledonne provided the audience with an overview of how oil and gas development leads to expanded manufacturing as he provided an update on the significant investment Markwest/MPLX has made in the state.
The panelists drove home the point of how critical it is to invest in energy and transportation infrastructure. Rep. Ryan summed up the discussion best during a question-and-answer session:
“Our infrastructure is old, and we need to do something to fix it,” he said. “These projects are not going to get any cheaper. We’ve got to get it done now. This is a time of investment for our country, and it is going to cost us some money. But the alternative is we have infrastructure from the 1930s, we’re strangling the gas industry that wants to expand, we’re strangling the workforce that wants to go form a job making 10 bucks an hour to one of these 355 jobs that Dave talked about, one of these union jobs, with a pension and a benefit. That’s the American dream. That’s going to set our economy on an entirely new trajectory. That’s going to put people to work for the next 10 years if we do it right.”
Rep. Johnson also discussed the critical need to act on energy and transportation infrastructure, noting how outdated our infrastructure is and recounting how much of a boon the oil and natural gas industry has been to his district, where investments of $8 billion in energy infrastructure are in the works and $4 billion in natural gas power plants are pending or under construction.
The discussion underscores the recent survey released by the NAM that found 81 percent of Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans support investing in our nation’s infrastructure. The survey also found that a majority of Ohioans believe investments in infrastructure will create good-paying jobs.
“The best social program is a job,” Rep. Ryan told the audience several times.
Latest posts by Rachel Jones (see all)
- Why Manufacturers Support the Dept. of Energy’s New Program to Expand U.S. Nuclear Energy - January 8, 2019
- NAM Backs FERC Nominee McNamee Ahead of Confirmation Hearing - November 15, 2018
- Report: Gulf Coast Infrastructure ‘Ill-Equipped’ to Handle Expected Boom in U.S. Energy Exports - October 24, 2018