When President Obama spoke in his State of the Union address about making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing, I started thinking about the hundreds of manufacturing companies who produce vehicles and components for America's public transit systems.
Last week, I visited one of those suppliers, Piedmont, South Carolina's TransTech Power Transfer Systems, a small company of about 70 employees. TransTech produces pantograph systems--the train-top power connectors you see in rail transit around the country. They also manufacture an innovative aluminum third rail and other power components for rail transit systems.
TransTech is busy building systems and components for transit service across the country. From Los Angeles to Chicago to Long Island, train after train is powered with parts made by the men and women of TransTech.
And federal infrastructure investments like those that President Obama proposed play a big part in TransTech's success. The folks working on the TransTech factory floor are busy building components for public transportation systems funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration. We're not only talking about new rail lines; but the work created through FTA’s State of Good Repair investments also helps Transtech’s bottom line, as they take on transit maintenance and refurbishing contracts.
Consider this: the FTA has reduced the number of Buy America waivers from more than forty in 2009 to just three in 2012. The Obama Administration is serious about building a stronger middle-class, and to do that we need to create and protect American manufacturing jobs.
As I said in South Carolina last week, the workers building TransTech rail components have a unique relationship with the millions of riders who benefit from their skilled labor. They depend on one another. Riders need safe, reliable transit solutions, and manufacturers need satisfied customers to keep the factory floor busy.
And at the Department of Transportation and FTA, we know that when we invest our tax dollars in transportation infrastructure, we're investing in both riders and in workers. We're investing in America.