Leipsic Mayor Kevin Benton, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Pro-Tec President Bryan Vaughn met in the lobby of the steel manufacturing plant following a meeting with plant workers. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
Leipsic Mayor Kevin Benton, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Pro-Tec President Bryan Vaughn met in the lobby of the steel manufacturing plant following a meeting with plant workers. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

LEIPSIC — United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was in Leipsic earlier this week, visiting Pro-Tec Coating Company during a swing through the northern part of the state on Tuesday. Brown discussed his concerns about, and his plans to support, American manufacturing in a closed meeting with workers at the steel plant.

In an interview following the meeting, Brown said, “I know that if trade laws and tax laws are written in a way that allows America, not makes, but allows America to be competitive, we’ll do fine.”

But, he added, American legislators need to act proactively to identify any threats that exist to maintaining a level playing field for American manufacturers and American workers.

Insistence on the application of the same environmental, tax and production rules on all manufacturing facilities, regardless of their nationality, will allow American manufacturing to remain competitive.

“If the same rules apply to everybody, they can do just fine,” Brown said. “But they don’t always, because the world’s a competitive place; sometimes fairly, sometimes not.”

Brown also lamented the relatively recent decline in manufacturing in the U.S. He stated that just 20 years ago, financial services accounted for ten percent of America’s gross domestic product, while manufacturing provided over 20 percent. Today, those numbers have almost reversed. He opined that the problem with such a state is that financial services, while providing some benefit to the middle class, principally allows the wealthiest to become wealthier. Manufacturing jobs , on the other hand, provide more opportunities to a greater percentage of the population.

Pointing to Pro-Tec, Brown said, “This kind of place creates a middle class.”