From the rail lines to bus lines to truck routes and airways, North Carolina’s transportation network is the key to connecting goods to markets and people to jobs. It is the network that supports economic growth and job creation in our state, and one of the most important issues we face as Congress and as a nation. This past week, I embarked on a transportation jobs tour across North Carolina’s 8th District. I wanted to see firsthand the different facets of our transportation system and understand the challenges and opportunities communities are facing.
Transportation is a critical part of how materials get to factories, how finished products get to markets, how food gets from farms to our kitchens, and how energy products move from production areas to consuming areas. An efficient transportation system allows businesses to lower production costs and enhance productivity and profits. It allows our businesses to be competitive and our economy to prosper and grow.
I visited four local airports on my transportation tour across the district: Rowan County Airport, Stanly County Airport, Charlotte Monroe Executive Airport, and Laurinburg-Maxton Airport. I believe that general aviation is one of the last true remaining all-American businesses. We have some of the largest and most advanced manufacturers in the world located in our country. They provide high paying jobs that promote innovation in aircraft manufacturing and all of the technology fields that support aviation. Despite numerous calls by President Obama to boost American manufacturing and increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, the general aviation community has come under continued regulatory assault by his Administration. It’s time for the president to recognize that general aviation not only benefits the nation, but raises the tax base in our communities through the sale of fuel, hangar space, and the business they attract. For example, if a medium-sized jet aircraft flies into one of our local executive airports, it will bring in about $120,000 annually in revenue from taxes alone.
But air transportation isn’t the only thing helping grow our economy and create jobs in the 8th District. The trucking industry is a vital part of our infrastructure and logistics network. Even with an increase in the use of intermodal systems, producers and consumers both understand the value of being able to ship directly to a location hassle-free. I was amazed by how high-tech and innovative the industry has become. I toured Old Dominion Freight Line in Charlotte and delivered packages with one of our local UPS drivers in Concord and I was extremely impressed by the cost-efficient, innovative methods they are employing to drive down overhead while expanding their operations. However, it was troubling to hear how the trucking industry has come under attack recently by a host of new regulations that seek to limit their ability to do business effectively. Because of this Administration, trucking has become a vulnerable industry, and one that we cannot abandon.
The last transportation hub I visited was the CSX Hamlet Train Station. The American rail industry is experiencing a resurgence that many predicted would never come. Like all good industries, rail adapted. With gas and oil prices rising, rail shipping is being more utilized. The Hamlet Train Station visit was especially nostalgic for me as I’m proud to come from a family with a long railroad tradition. My granddad and all of his brothers worked at the Hamlet Rail Yard and would be pleased to see the growth of the Hamlet train facility.
As a result of engaging in several briefings on transportation equipment and technology as well as learning about the job growth for our communities, I have walked away with a renewed commitment to be a strong advocate for North Carolina’s transportation networks. These networks have proven to be critical for economic growth and job creation in the 8th District. I am excited about the long-term plans our transportation hubs have in place to create even more jobs and make our communities more efficient, more competitive, and more prosperous.