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Published: Saturday, 2/7/2004

Voinovich cites needs of factories

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Frank Wojcik, left, of Crescent Manufacturing in Fremont, talks with Sen. George Voinovich during a visit yesterday. Frank Wojcik, left, of Crescent Manufacturing in Fremont, talks with Sen. George Voinovich during a visit yesterday.
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FREMONT - Mike Sears vividly remembers the time more than 10 years ago when it looked like his employer, Crescent Manufacturing, would be forced into bankruptcy.

Mr. Voinovich, now a U.S. senator, returned to the plant yesterday for a tour. He was acknowledged for helping the company negotiate with its creditors and applauded for keeping its doors open.

While recognizing that Crescent is a success story, the Republican senator said more has to be done to ensure other companies based in Ohio can prosper as well.

“The fact of the matter is that manufacturing is the backbone of Ohio,” Mr. Voinovich said as he stood before about 35 employees in the company s break room. “We need to create an environment where manufacturers can grow and be successful, and if we do that, other manufacturing companies will want to come.”

Crescent Manufacturing employs 111 workers and has two facilities. With more than 100 years of experience in the blade-making process, the company has customized its business by making its own machines.

As he toured the plant, Mr. Voinovich pointed to those machine innovations as what is right in American manufacturing. He said that by making an American product on American-made machines, Crescent is helping keep jobs in this country.

He then told workers what needs to change to ensure others keep their jobs as well.

In particular, American companies need to buy parts that are made locally and not in countries such as China, he said.

And lawsuits against companies need to be curbed, he said, so manufacturers don t have to fold legal bills into their prices.

The senator also spoke of the environment and how this country still needs to rely on energy sources that may not be environmentally sound. “There are those who are worried about coal. But by shutting that down, energy costs will be driven up and that will lead to the downfall of many manufacturers,” the senator said.

Mr. Voinovich acknowledged that he was speaking to the lucky ones. Several thousand Ohio workers are unemployed because of company shutdowns and labor reductions. He proposed plans to extend unemployment benefits and offer continuing education to help those out of work.

Fremont Mayor Terry Overmyer said his city is experiencing financial “bumps and turns” similar to those experienced on a national level. He said he d like to see the state take a more aggressive stance on recruiting and retaining jobs.

Mr. Sears, a 20-year Crescent employee, acknowledged that the key to his company s success was teamwork.

He said Mr. Voinovich s visit reminded him that there are several players on the team and that they all have to work together, despite party affiliation, to build a successful job market.

“You see the other side of the fence. They do care. It s not that it s them against us,” Mr. Sears said. “Everybody needs to come together and work together to make America stronger.”



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