At a time when many companies are shipping jobs overseas, at least one company--Progress Rail--is doing just the opposite. Last Friday, in Muncie, Indiana, the company celebrated the opening of the first new American locomotive manufacturing plant in many years. And we know that, if Congress passes the transportation provisions in the American Jobs Act, the new jobs in Muncie will be followed by hundreds of thousands across the country.
Progress Rail invested $50 million into what the Muncie Chamber of Commerce calls, "the biggest development here in 40 years."
The new facility, with 700,000 square feet and a 99-foot-high ceiling, employs more than 150 skilled American workers building complete locomotives from the ground up. The company plans to nearly double the Muncie plant's workforce by 2012.
And, by opening a manufacturing plant on American soil and employing American workers, Progress Rail is also eligible, under "Buy America" guidelines, to bid on building our first domestically-manufactured fleet of high-speed rail locomotives. And those same "Buy America" provisions mean that parts and supplies will also come from American manufacturers. This will mean even more jobs.
Two years ago, I said on this blog that, "We have already received commitments from over 30 companies in the rail business to create or expand U.S. rail manufacturing should they be awarded contracts."
Well, Progress Rail was as good as their word, and the company didn't even wait for federal contracts. As Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo--who was on hand for the official opening last Friday--said, "Progress Rail is one of several companies to put their money where their mouth is.”
At DOT we are committed to the “Buy America” standard, and that is why I am so happy to congratulate Progress Rail on a job well done and jobs well created.
Progress Rail was able to create hundreds of jobs with its investment in Muncie, Indiana. Today, the United States Senate has the opportunity to help create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation by passing the transportation investments in the American Jobs Act.
In 1982, President Reagan worked with an opposition Congress to pass a transportation bill. He knew, and Congress knew, that jobs would be created through federal transportation investments. We know they'll be created today if Congress will pass this bill.