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Congressman Burlison highlights the need for manufacturing during a tour in southwest Missouri

U.S. Congressman Eric Burlison talks with Ray McCarthy, president of Associated Industries of Missouri, on June 18, 2024.
U.S. Congressman Eric Burlison talks with Ray McCarthy, president of Associated Industries of Missouri, on June 18, 2024.

The tour included stops at several manufacturing companies and OTC.

Congressman Eric Burlison, who represents Missouri’s 7th District, toured manufacturing sites in southwest Missouri on Tuesday as well as the Center for Workforce Development at Ozarks Technical Community College.

One manufacturing facility Congressman Burlison visited was Enersys/NorthStar Battery Company in Springfield. He said leaders there made it clear that the business’s demand for energy is significant.

“They, in their words, they are probably one of City Utilities, you know, favorite clients. In other words, they buy a lot of electricity. And so we recognized on the national level we’re hitting a crunch, an energy crunch. And so that’s one thing that I can take away from this is that we need to do everything we can to try to increase the electricity generation in the United States.”

Burlison believes the U.S. needs to look beyond just wind and solar for clean energy production in order to meet the demands for manufacturing. And he said more energy will be needed to bring manufacturers back to the United States from other countries like China.

“The only way to get there, I think, is through nuclear power,” he said. “Now, the market needs to kind of get there, but the good news is that we have, for the first time in several decades, produced in the United States our first two nuclear power plants.”

Ray McCarthy, president of Associated Industries of Missouri and a tour participant, thinks nuclear power is the best option for the future as well. He said he's excited about the prospect of small modular reactors, a technology that hasn't been fully developed yet, becoming a reality in the future.

"You can take nuclear rods from some of the major nuclear plants, as I understand it, and they're thinking that those have enough radiation in them to run some of these smaller modular technologies," he said. "That's wonderful. We're all in on that technology."

One thing Burlison said the tour made him realize is that more people need to know that there are options after high school beyond a college degree. He pointed out that many companies will hire kids out of high school and train them on the job.

McCarthy said educational facilities like the one at OTC help kids learn skills that can lead to good careers.

“If we can get parents to understand that the jobs in manufacturing are not in dingy, unsafe environments, they’re some of the safest places you can be,” he said. “They’re clean, and employers really want to take care of employees. That may not have been the case 100 years ago, but it certainly is today.”

He said he hopes the tour raises awareness of the importance of manufacturing to the local economy as well as the State of Missouri and the United States.

Burlison hopes to make the manufacturing tour an annual event.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.