WYOMING WEST – With economic growth and the region’s future in mind, Regional Applachian Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin kicked off a two-day tour of several businesses and institutions in the region with a stop at Ashley Machine and Tool on Monday afternoon.
Manchin was accompanied by members of the State Department of Community and Economic Development and members of the NEPA Alliance on a tour of the Ashley Machine manufacturing space, led by company owner John Mulhern and his son, Zachary.
“We are happy that she is here,” Mulhern said. “Anything the CRA could do to help us, help manufacturing, help aerospace… I’m all for it. “
The tour was to include U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, who worked to increase funding for the ARC. Cartwright did not attend Monday’s tour; a statement released to The Times Leader later Monday evening said Cartwright was meeting with Pike County commissioners on a “major economic development initiative.”
Manchin, who was named the RCAF’s Federal Co-Chair earlier this year and who is the wife of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, was eager to hear about Ashley Machine and the other stops on her two-day tour. . of the area.
“I am very excited to be here,” Manchin said. “This is my first visit to Pennsylvania to be on site in an ARC project to see how our partnerships work. “
The ARC is a development partnership agency covering parts of the 13 states along the Applachian Trail. The agency provides impetus to businesses, higher education institutions and other organizations in the form of grants and investments in regional projects.
All of this is aimed at strengthening local economies and helping to develop businesses throughout the Applaches region.
“The CRA doesn’t just give money, it was formed to be a partnership. … It’s a partnership at all levels, ”said Manchin.
“Projects get support locally, they get support from nonprofits, and then ARC is the third step. “
Manchin noted that the RCAF was looking to diversify its plans with a focus on aerospace manufacturing, which made Ashley Machine the perfect place to start its trip to northeastern Pennsylvania.
In business since 1945, Ashley Machine and Tool is a manufacturer of aerospace products with a long list of customers across the country.
“We ship to Florida, California, pretty much everywhere,” Mulhern said.
Mulhern led the tour of Ashley’s manufacturing space, showing her some of the products made there, while answering questions about the business and its future.
Mulhern mentioned that he is looking to potentially diversify into aerospace, citing the medical field as a potential new direction for the manufacturing plant.
He also highlighted his greatest hope for the CRA after the tour ended on Monday.
“I hope they heard my message. I specifically hope they could help with cybersecurity, ”Mulhern said. “It’s hard for a small store like ours to run things the way our bigger customers want.
“So I’m hoping that the CRA could help with some financial aid or some grants, or even some type of training for that.”
The tour continues tomorrow with a 10am stop at Belrick Corporation in Swoyersville before heading north to visit Johnson College and Lackawanna College.
Cartwright’s office has confirmed that the congressman will be joining the group for tomorrow’s tour stops.