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Perriello tours Monogram plant
He touts stimulus impact while stumping for Obama
Former 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello (left) speaks with Greg Staley, Monogram Foods plant manager, on Wednesday as he tours the plant in the Patriot Centre industrial park. (Contributed photo by Han Nguyen for Obama for America)
Thursday, June 21, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Former 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello toured a local business Wednesday to see improvements made possible by stimulus funds he helped secure during his term in Congress and to campaign for the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Perriello, an Albemarle County Democrat who lost his bid for a second term in 2010 to U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, visited the Monogram Foods plant in the Patriot Centre industrial park. The Memphis, Tenn.-based company produces processed meat products there.
Perriello toured Monogram to see improvements that were made possible by a $5.75 million guaranteed loan of stimulus funds, so called because they were designed to stimulate the economy during the recession. As a congressman, he worked to secure the funds for the company through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.
Greg Staley, plant manager of Monogram’s local facility, said the funds were invested in equipment and the expansion of a production line.
The loan “allowed us to purchase additional equipment, and it allowed our company to grow,” he said.
The company tripled its number of employees, from “just north of 100” to the current 380 workers on two operational (production) shifts and one sanitation shift, Staley said.
Wages are competitive, and the company offers benefits to employees, he said. He did not specify wage amounts.
Those interested in learning about current job openings should visit the Virginia Workforce Center, Staley said, and added that he believes the company’s future in Martinsville is bright.
Perriello said Monogram is one of more than 400 projects in Virginia that received help from the stimulus funds.
As he viewed the effects of those funds at Monogram, Perriello criticized claims made by the campaign of presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The first day of a Romney presidency would not look like the attractive picture portrayed in a frequently aired pro-Romney ad, Perriello said.
“What would a day one under Mitt Romney really look like? We have already had a preview” of Romney’s leadership when he was governor of Massachusetts, Perriello said.
He referred to statistics in an Obama advertisement, including that Massachusetts lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs between January 2003 and January 2004. According to PolitiFact, a website that checks political statements, the job loss figures are nearly accurate, but they exaggerate Romney’s control over those areas.
Romney would bring that same leadership to Washington, where “the private sector gains equity and workers get screwed,” Perriello said.
Although he no longer is in Congress, Perriello said he continues working to ensure that companies such as Monogram remain in this country in his roles as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and counselor for policy to the Center for American Progress.
He also is serving with a think-tank titled “How to Rebuild Manufacturing in the U.S.” to explore ways of luring companies back to the United States.
“People have the answers. I’m just trying to be a bridge” to bring those people together, he said, and added that the trend of reshoring (companies that moved offshore returning to the United States) has begun due to the increased costs of doing business overseas.
“I think we’re seeing a wake-up call among investors” as companies with operations abroad struggle with increased labor and transportation costs, Perriello said. Keeping those investments “here at home makes sense,” he said.
One of the accomplishments Perriello said he is most proud of was working with Obama to close a tax loophole that made it attractive for companies to move offshore.
Even as companies move back to the United States, Perriello said, “We have to understand we live in a global economy. (To compete), we must have the best infrastructure in the world, the best work force and a tax code that rewards innovation” rather than one that is based on the economy of the last 50 years.
“Places like Martinsville get me up in the morning,” Perriello said shortly before leaving the area to stop in Chatham, Rustburg, Raphine, Farmville and Lovingston on his tour of rural communities.