January 07, 2016

Sen. Manchin stops at Lockheed Martin on statewide tour | Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram

CLARKSBURG — The Lockheed Martin plant in Clarksburg was one of Sen. Joe Manchin’s stops this week on a tour to discuss current issues with West Virginia community and business leaders.

 Manchin visited the plant Wednesday, meeting with administration and employees to discuss the concerns, as well as the successes, of the business.

“They’re concerned about the military cutbacks, if you will, because of the monetary concerns we have in our country,” Manchin said.

 The senator said the federal government’s finances are a concern to many plants like Lockheed, both statewide and nationwide.

 “If you can’t take care of your own finances, you have serious problems, and with $19 trillion (in debt), we’ve got to get our financial house in order,” he said.

 The Clarksburg plant was an ideal place to visit, Manchin said.

 “The Lockheed plant’s been here over 50 years, and the work they do provides defense for our nation,” he said. “The C-130 is one of the finest aircrafts the world has ever known, and we still provide a tremendous amount of that right here. I’m proud of that.”

 Plant manager Drew Brooks said the facility builds about 7 percent of Lockheed’s C-130J — a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft.

 “We discussed the importance of keeping firm orders for aircrafts, because if you start in up and down rates, it drives cost,” he said. “We keep wanting to drive cost down.”

 With the plant’s changing operations and needs, it was a great chance to update Manchin on the facility’s operations since his visit four years ago, Brooks said.

 “It also lets people like Sen. Manchin see our people and take pride in the people that he has here that he represents,” Brooks said.

 “He sees the job they’re doing, and it gives us a great opportunity to work together as Lockheed Martin and as a government,” Brooks added.

 Discussion surrounding these concerns will accompany Manchin as he goes back to Washington, D.C., particularly as a ranking member on the United States Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland, he said.

 “We’re talking about different things, like if there’s going to be more C-130s,” he said. “J-models are the newest ones coming out, and it makes a big difference to make sure that we get our fair share of the work.”

 Additionally, in order to resolve financial concerns of these businesses, Manchin said the government needs to create a plan.

 “What they need most of all is a three to five year plan so when you put a program out there, they have funding for five years,” he said. “They can plan on whether they’re going to expand this program, build this program or finish this program. You can’t do it year to year doing it by piece meal.” 

Manchin said that a country cannot be run year to year when businesses and even families are not run that way.  

“You make decisions for the long term, and that’s what they need for more stability,” he said.

Brooks and his fellow Lockheed Martin employees were appreciative of being a stop along Manchin’s tour.

 “I think it helps us out, but it helps him out,” he said. “It helps him better understand what we do here in Clarksburg, gives him a little information on the C130 and what we’re looking at in future deals.”

 As for the future, Brooks is looking ahead at the cost-driven makeup of the industry.

 “Some of that is Lockheed Martin Proprietary Information, but we’re looking for any opportunities that we can benefit Lockheed Martin and work that we do here on the Clarksburg side,” he said. “We’re going to reach out and grow those relationships so we make sure we’re available for the company.”

 Lockheed Martin was only one stop along Manchin’s statewide tour, which also included Marion County Transit Authority and the University of Charleston.

 “We have opportunities, we have jobs and we’re able to expand,” he said. “Jobs are the most critical thing we have to take care of yourself and your family, and I think we can do it as well if not better here in West Virginia, but people have to know about it.”

 Manchin considers it his job to tell manufacturers and companies about these opportunities.

“Anybody that comes to Washington or anybody that I work with in manufacturing around the world, give us a chance and let us show what we can do,” he said.