Vice President Mike Pence visits Manitowoc

Ben Destefan
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a visit to Manitowoc Cranes in Shady Grove on Thursday.

SHADY GROVE – Vice President of the United States Mike Pence visited Manitowoc Cranes in Shady Grove Thursday morning to discuss the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and how it will benefit manufacturing in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Hundreds of Manitowoc employees, most sporting matching red, white and blue attire, listened as Pence delivered a 20-minute speech detailing the USMCA. Numerous local officials were also invited to hear the Republican vice president, who was flanked by several cranes and a massive American flag in the background.

Prior to his speech, Pence, who was accompanied by his wife Karen, took a quick tour of the facility, getting a firsthand look at operations in Shady Grove.

"American manufacturing is making an incredible comeback," Pence said. "The truth is, the real credit goes to all of you. The comeback of American manufacturing is happening because of the men and women of this country who work in this industry and great companies like Manitowoc. We're here today at Manitowoc's largest manufacturing facility, where this company has invested almost $50 million in the last three years alone and hired more than 350 new workers right at this site. That's real progress for Pennsylvania and America."

A significant focus of President Donald Trump, the USMCA is a modernized version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), supporting mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in North America, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. The agreement can create more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs — and manufacturing.

"For all this progress we've made, that's what this businessman who has turned president calls a good start," Pence explained. "To keep this economy rolling, President Trump and I believe we have to level the playing field for American workers by having trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first, and that's just what we're here to do."

While the three countries have reached a new agreement, NAFTA remains in effect. The USMCA still needs to pass a Congressional vote in America, hence why Pence urged those in attendance to reach out to elected representatives in Washington.

"We have a new deal here that's going to create more jobs, more opportunity and more prosperity in Pennsylvania," Pence said. "The USMCA is a big win for the Keystone State, it's essential that we get it passed. That's why we're all out here today, because I need your help. It's time for Congress to do their job and approve the USMCA and approve it this year."

A study by the United States International Trade Commission shows the USMCA would create an additional 176,000 jobs and add $68 billion to the economy.

"The reason for our booming economy is simple, because of counties like Franklin that have experienced economic success because of President Trump and Vice President Pence," said Congressman John Joyce, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 13th District which includes Franklin County. "It's amazing what can be done when you have strong leaders who push to cut taxes, roll back regulatory red tape for business owners and make historic investments in vocational and STEM programs. But, there's one last piece to the puzzle when setting up our economy to prosper for generations to come. And that's trade."

Barry Pennypacker, president and CEO of Manitowoc Cranes, spoke directly to the Trump administration's positive impact on the Shady Grove campus.

"We are the only American crane company that manufacturers in America," Pennypacker said, gaining applause from employees. "We have benefited from the Trump policies of tax reform and regulatory relief. In fact, since 2016, we have been able to invest $47 million in the Shady Grove campus.

President Trump and Vice President Pence have kept their promise to negotiate a new North American trade deal. One that will make sure companies like Manitowoc are better positioned to compete, and win, in the global economy."

United States Deputy Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella and Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), also spoke prior to Pence taking the podium.

AEM represents manufacturing companies such as Manitowoc and was crucial to coordinating Thursday's event.