President Obama’s visit to Newton later today should seem very familiar to Iowans. The President is visiting TPI Composites, a manufacturer of wind turbine blades. In the spring of 2009, Obama made his first trip to Iowa as President to Trinity Structural Towers, a manufacturer that builds tubular wind towers.
President Obama used his 2009 visit to Newton to push for Cap and Trade legislation. He also urged Americans to properly inflate the tires on their vehicles and switch out one regular light bulb in their home for a compact florescent bulb to use less energy. In 2012, an election year, the President is supposedly going to once again push for clean energy technologies, but he will also call on Congress to renew the federal Production Tax Credit for the wind industry.
While the President will be in Newton pushing for tax credits for companies like TPI and Trinity, another energy company that received over $86 million dollars of stimulus money from the Obama Administration, is in the process of eliminating 80 jobs in Cedar Rapids. On Tuesday, Schneider Electric, announced that it would move its production line of low voltage circuit breakers to Mexico.
Schneider, which bought Square D Company in 1991, has received over $86 million in federal stimulus money. Some of the money went to make energy upgrades to buildings and factories as part of the administration’s Better Buildings Better Plants Challenge. According to a White House press release, Schneider received the funds because it had pledged to reduce energy consumption in 9 million square feet of building space, covering 40 different plants, by 25 percent.
Despite receiving millions of dollars from taxpayers to improve its facilities, Schneider is now shipping 80 jobs from Cedar Rapids to two other plants, one of them in Mexico. The 80 lost manufacturing jobs represent over 20 percent of the company’s workforce in Cedar Rapids.
The unemployment rate in Linn County currently stands at 5.3 percent, while the statewide unemployment rate is 5.1 percent. The unemployment rate in Jasper County where President Obama will visit stands at 7.1 percent. When Obama visited Newton in 2009, the unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent.
While the President will call for an extension of tax credits for the wind industry, he has basically refused to do anything that will help small businesses grow in this economy. It is also frustrating to see large companies like Schneider receive millions in stimulus dollars and still relocate jobs to Mexico.
Maybe instead finding ways to keep giving incentives to the wind industry in Newton, the President should explain why companies that have received millions from his administration feel the need to create jobs in Mexico and not Cedar Rapids. If companies like Schneider that have received over $84 million from the Obama government can’t keep jobs in Iowa, can we really expect companies like TPI and Trinity to stay?
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