Ludington, MI – “I am so impressed, with both the individual pieces and then what it looks like when it’s all put together,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) following her tour of Harsco Rail‘s facility in Ludington, Mich., on July 19.

Sen. Stabenow joined the Railway Engineering-Maintenance and Suppliers Association (REMSA) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 811, along with GoRail’s Michael Gaynor, to tour the manufacturing facility, which produces Harsco’s rail maintenance-of-way equipment. This equipment is used by railroads and rail contractors to safely maintain and expand the rail network.

“I don’t believe we have an economy unless somebody makes something and grows something, and that’s what we do here. We’re talking about rail component cars that are absolutely critical to move basic raw materials, energy materials, agriculture, anything by freight rail. It’s very important – these are good paying jobs, these are jobs we want in our country,” said Sen. Stabenow.

For the Michigan facility, which employs approximately 160, it was the first visit from a U.S. senator. Ray Patterson, Harsco’s senior director of operations and supply chain, led the tour, emphasizing the value of private rail investments for the rail supplier industry and Michigan’s workforce at large.

“We take great pride in having our senators come out and visit our workforce. It’s really important for us to create those relationships with Congress and the different entities within the government because we are so dependent in this country on freight rail,” said Patterson. “Rail investment goes into maintenance-of-way, which directly affects the workforce here in Michigan.”

The group also discussed the BRACE (Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy) Act, which would make a tax credit for short line and regional railroads permanent, allowing them to upgrade and expand the crucial “first and last mile” of their infrastructure. Sen. Stabenow is one of 43 bipartisan cosponsors of the Senate bill.