Rep. Patrick McHenry visited Conover Friday to tour the Manufacturing Solutions Center and hear about the center’s new initiative developing personal protective equipment.
McHenry, a Republican who has represented most of Catawba County in Congress since 2005, was joined by other state and local leaders.
Conover City Council members Kyle Hayman and Joie Fulbright, Conover City Manager Donald Duncan, state Sen. Dean Proctor, state Rep. Jay Adams and state Rep. Jason Saine of Lincoln County were among those present.
The visit was an opportunity for the manufacturing center to showcase its role in the PPE-NC Initiative — a $14.3 million collaboration between the city of Conover, the manufacturing center, Gaston County and the Textile Technology Center at Gaston College to develop reusable protective equipment.
Conover is receiving $9 million of a $14.3 million appropriation of federal COVID-19 aid allotted by the state, funding that will go at least in part to construction of a new testing facility.
Local and state leaders, such as Duncan and Adams, have both touted the project as a means of locating more production capacity in the United States so that the country does not need to depend on other countries.
McHenry echoed those sentiments following the tour, saying it is necessary for the U.S. to realign supply chains to make sure the country can ensure its own supply of protective equipment. Addressing the possibility of another federal stimulus deal, McHenry said it likely would not happen before the election.
He said assistance to the unemployed and small businesses would be the most critical components of a new stimulus deal. “We need to help those people that have had their jobs eliminated through no fault of their own,” McHenry said.
After the visit to the manufacturing center, McHenry was scheduled to visit the Conover Fire Department for a presentation of more than $600,000 in federal grant funding.
McHenry is running for reelection against Democratic candidate David Parker, a Statesville attorney.
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.