PEEBLES, Ohio – Giant jet engines made a powerful backdrop for Sen. Rob Portman’s visit to Adams County Thursday.
There’s nothing better or bigger to illustrate the importance of Portman’s efforts to bring jobs to the region than the GE Aviation Engine Testing Facility.
"I was here back when I was a member of Congress about a decade ago. Lots of changes, new buildings, new engines, new technology,” Portman said he walked through the facility, greeting and chatting with workers.
GE has long been one of the region’s biggest employers - “about 9,000 employees in Southwest Ohio,” Portman noted – but it’s the force of 400 in Adams County, where jobs are scarce, that really raises the local economy.
“These are good jobs. These are jobs that are needed here in a county that has relatively high unemployment," Portman said.
According to the Ohio Labor Market, Adams County has a 6.9 percent unemployment rate - nearly 1.5 percent more than the state average.
And with more orders for jet engines, there are more jobs to be filled.
"They're looking for 16 people right now,” Portman said. “If you’re a technician and interested in coming in on the test site, you have to let them know. They’re continuing to grow, and that’s great news.”
Jobs at GE lead to long careers at GE, workers say.
"Most of the guys I've met here have been working here a long time," Portman said.
That includes Dane Clark, export and facility services leader.
"Sometimes this is the first and last job you'll have. It's an entire career," said Clark, who has been working for GE for 32 years.
Portman discussed regulations, energy issues, and taxes with the focus on keeping those good jobs in Adams County.
“I work with them on trade issues. Talked about export and import bank. The importance of having a level playing field in terms of their exports,” Portman said.
Peter Prowitt, who runs the GE Aviation office in Washington, D.C., said “it’s a big deal to us” to have Portman’s support.
“It makes a difference when he comes to see our facilities. He cares about job creation, employment, in an industry like aerospace.
“It’s important for him to understand what it takes for us to be able to compete. And to be able to build these state-of-the-art motors here in Ohio.
“We need to have an impressive product, but you also have to understand how to operate globally. For us, we have to be able to behave every day like they’re kicking the doors behind us. We have to be able to compete,"
“Sen. Portman recognizes that government policy plays a role in how successful businesses like ours can be. He supports policies that helps us grow our company and industry.”
Portman says the proof is in the product and product demand.
“They have a brand new engine that will be the most powerful engine in the world. It’s now being tested here," Portman said.
"The GE engine is on the Boeing product. It's also on the Airbus product. Three out of every four engines produced here are shipped overseas. That's a good thing. It creates more jobs here through exports.
“No matter what plane you’re flying, there’s a good chance it was tested right here in Peebles, Ohio,” Portman said.