May 29, 2015

Sen. Manchin: This country needs to manufacture more | The Inter-Mountain

CANAAN VALLEY - Sen. Joe Manchin was the keynote speaker Thursday for a three-day conference intended to promote small business throughout the state.

Manchin addressed a crowd full of small business owners and corporate representatives for approximately 40 minutes during the event, one of several meetings featuring prestigious state and federal officials scheduled for the 25th annual Teaming to Win Small Business Conference that concludes today at the Canaan Valley Conference Center in Tucker County.

Manchin began his speech by thanking the sponsors and many groups and individuals integral to the conference and the progression of small business in West Virginia. He then spoke briefly about his path to public service, and why he decided to give up his seat as governor to fill the vacancy left by the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

"I thought, if I can take my experience to Washington, maybe I can help," Manchin said. "I just didn't think it was going to be this challenging. I did not know it was this toxic the political atmosphere."

He noted partisan differences are pulling the country apart, and used the legislature's handling of the financial crisis, healthcare and the recently controversial Trade Promotion Authority legislation as examples.

"We can do this. We still have the (capability) to fix the mess we made and we've got to do it," Manchin said. "If not, we're going to hit the wall sooner or later and there's no reason for it it's completely self-inflicted if we do."

"We're the greatest economic engine the world has ever known," he said. "We're the big fish and they're telling me we have to have these secret negotiations because if it becomes known the other nation' won't join in to our trade agreements. That's never made sense to me."

Manchin pointed out West Virginia lost 31,000 manufacturing jobs last year. He said for things to improve it's essential that businesses stop taking their jobs outside U.S. borders

"I want to make things again. I want to build things," he said. "If you want a country, you better be able to show some tangible things you've done and we're not doing that we're almost abdicating it."

Manchin added if it wasn't for the businesses represented at the conference providing progressive technology our country would be in an even more precarious spot.

"Take advantage of what we have and let's get back some of the things we shouldn't be doing away with - that's what we're looking at," he said.

Moving on to the current strife in the Middle East, Manchin noted money and the military might cannot create peace in the region.

"Until the Arab nations want to fight and die for their own countries, we can't do it for them," he said, prompting standing applause from the audience. "We can't continue to sacrifice American lives when they won't sacrifice their own lives."

Manchin noted businesses represented at the conference will be needed in the future to provide their specialized knowledge as terror evolves through technology and social media.

"Your technology, your ability and your expertise is what's going to make the difference for us," he said. "Whether we're going to remain a super power or not it probably sits in this room. The ability to protect your children and my family and everybody else's (family) is in this room and for that I say thank you."

Manchin asked to be thought of as a facilitator for companies while they grow and develop technologies.

"I don't want special treatment I want fair treatment for West Virginians," he said. "We'll give you more value, more bang for your buck, than anybody in the country. That's the bragging rights you've given me and I appreciate that."

Other speakers featured during the course of the conference included Stephen Morris, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations; Greg Blaney, director of NASA IV and V; Dr. E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va; and Alan B. Mollohan, former congressman and founder of Teaming to Win.

Participants paid a $150 fee to register for the conference, which covered meals and refreshments and guaranteed admittance to every event. Interested parties also were given the option to purchase a $30 ticket for Wednesday's Small Business Awards Luncheon only.

Teaming to win, a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation, is committed to progressing small business statewide by providing business support conferences, educational activities, promotional forums, networking resources, workforce and business growth opportunities.

According to the group's website, the organization's charitable purpose is to advance and improve small business prospects in West Virginia, and to facilitate educational opportunities which promote higher business standards, methods and practices.

Conference sponsors include A3L Federal Works, Action Facilities Management Inc., Allegheny Science & Technology Corporation, AXA Advisors, Aximuth Inc., The Cornerstone Group, Cross Resolve, Healthcare Management Solutions LLC, KeyLogic, Lockheed Martin, MPL Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Professional Services of America, SRA International, The Stick Company, Stoller Newport News Nuclear, TASC Inc., TechConnect West Virginia, USSE2 O&M Services, the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and West Virginia University.

By:  Chris Lee