Government

Trump Touts Economy to Electrical Contractors

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A local delegation of electrical contractors was on hand Tuesday to hear remarks from President Donald Trump in which he touted the strong economy and a pledge to invest more than $1 billion annually in new workforce development initiatives.

“It was exciting,” said Dave Dickey, CEO of Dickey Electric Co. in North Lima. “In 117 years, we’ve never had a sitting president address our convention.”

Trump spoke to a crowd of about 6,000 Tuesday at the National Electrical Contractors Association, or NECA, convention in Philadelphia.

VEC Inc., University Electric, Santon Electric, and Tri-Area Electric were among the other Mahoning Valley electrical contractors represented at the event.

Trump spent much of his 40-minute speech touting the strong economy and his administration’s efforts to make it easier for businesses to expand through initiatives such as tax reform, deregulation and renegotiated trade deals.

Dickey said Trump was prompted to speak before the conference because many of them share the same goal of boosting apprenticeship programs in the trades. “We’d like to have 60,000 new apprentices on board over the next five years,” he said. “That’s one of our initiatives.”

Another Trump effort is to spend roughly $1 billion annually in vocational education and training in order to create interest among young people in the trades.

Trump’s remarks were mostly focused on what he called “the best economy in our history,” touting low unemployment, low taxes and reworked trade deals that make American businesses more competitive.

The president emphasized that jobless claims were at their lowest rates in 50 years, while unemployment had reached the “lowest levels ever recorded” among black, Hispanic and Asian Americans.

“That’s pretty good,” Trump crowed. “That’s a very hard sound bite to beat if you’re an opponent of Trump.”

He said the country has created four million jobs since his election, 50,000 of which are electrical contracting jobs.

“The economic revival would not be possible without the men and women in this room,” he told the crowd.

Trump touted the new trade deal announced Monday that creates a revitalized North American Free Trade Agreement that he said will add more protections for U.S. workers and farmers. The new agreement – now named the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement — still needs to be ratified by Congress.

He didn’t leave out labor, either, as Trump praised the work of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, whose members work with NECA contractors.

The businessman-turned-president also didn’t shy away about his contribution to the trades as a real estate developer. “I’ve made these guys so much money over the years,” Trump quipped.

Yet Dickey said that Trump hit on issues that are important to the small businesses like his, who are concerned about succession plans.

“We liked his position on the estate tax,” he said. “We have a family-owned business, so that’s big for us.”

Dickey also said that Trump’s tax policies have helped the bottom line for his company, which allows his business to expand and add new employees.

“Not everyone likes Trump in our organization,” Dickey noted. “But they do respect the office, and we do want to hear what he has to say. I think we got our message across.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.