WAPAKONETA — Manufacturing is back in the United States, and the president of the United States will not-so-humbly take credit for that.
“There’s never been a better time to buy, invest and build in the United States,” President Donald Trump said during a stop in Wapakoneta on Sunday.
His surroundings Sunday proved his words true. There he stood at the grand opening of the first phase of Pratt Industries’ $500 million paper mill and corrugated box factory. The owner of the company, Anthony Pratt, directly credited Trump’s policies for his decision to build the largest factory during Trump’s presidency with the largest investment his company ever made.
”Mr. President, if it wasn’t for your presidency, this mill would not be here today,” Pratt said. “If it wasn’t for your economic policies, we wouldn’t have made the decision in 2017 to invest millions of dollars to create thousands of well-paying jobs.”
Pratt Industries’ paper mill is expected to open in October. Along with a planned corrugated box factory, they’re anticipated to create 300 new jobs paying an average wage of $22 to $25 per hour, according to the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council. The box factory still under construction and expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.
The mill will create paper from recycled materials at the site, located along county Road 25A on the southern edge of Wapakoneta.
“This is really cutting edge stuff, and that’s really great,” Trump said, noting the factory won’t cut down a single tree, relying completely on recycled paper. “We’re proving you can protect your environment and grow your economy at the same time.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared the stage with Trump, with speeches starting about an hour later than expected. Trump’s plane was delayed coming from a speech in Houston, where he spoke at the “Howdy Modi!” rally for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At that rally, Trump said, “India has never invested in the United States like it is doing today,” according to the Associated Press.
Morrison said the pro-business practices under the Trump administration are helping both countries. He couldn’t help but make a historical connection to Wapakoneta’s most famous son.
“There was a famous American from this town, Neil Armstrong,” Morrison said. “Unemployment has not been as low in the United States since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. … The reason it’s happening is because people are investing in policies.”
Tina Maurer, a teacher at Wapakoneta who was in the audience, took note of the cooperative tone between the two world leaders sharing a stage in her city.
“I teach third-graders all the time that they have to work together,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see two guys from two of the greatest countries in the world show that they can work together and both succeed.”
Trump certainly recognized the geography. He flew into the Allen County Airport on Sunday, just like he did back in March when he spoke at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima. He recalled the successes there for the Australian prime minister, from the threats of a shutdown to a growing workforce there now. He joked it was all over “what, $3?” in savings at the risk of eliminating “what’s known as the best tank in the world.”
Much of Trump’s speech was sprinkled with large figures to showcase his efforts on the economy.
“We lowered our business taxes from among the highest in the developed world to something very competitive,” President Donald Trump said during a stop in Wapakoneta on Sunday. “… We’ve brought $1 trillion back to our shores, and that’s $1 trillion worth of jobs.”
He noted a quarter of the new jobs are in manufacturing, even though “the previous administration said you’d need a magic wand” to bring back manufacturing jobs. He also noted 7 million Americans have dropped from the “food stamp” rolls.
“You’re able to go find jobs. If you don’t like it here or somewhere else, you can go somewhere else,” Trump said. “Everybody’s looking, and they’re all paying well.”
He also noted his pride that “more things are stamped with those beautiful words, ‘Made in the USA!’” The crowd responded with a chant of “USA!”
State Auditor Keith Faber, the region’s former state senator and a resident of Celina, said it’s easy to see how well these policies work from the growth in the region.
“I think this facility shows we’re doing a lot of the right things here in Ohio,” Faber said. “We’ve been trying to do the right things here with taxes and workforce for a few years. It’s nice not to have the headwinds in D.C. working against us now.”
Trump was last in Ohio for a rally in Cincinnati on Aug. 1. His visit to Wapakoneta was his 12th visit to Ohio during his presidency.
Morrison got a chuckle from the president as he wrapped up his speech by using a turn of phrase of Trump’s campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.”
“Together, we’re making jobs great again,” Morrison said. “Cheers!”