U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson was in Osage on Thursday to get a feel for the business environment and a taste of the local cuisine.
Iowa’s 1st congressional district representative made stops at local businesses in Osage and Northwood.
In Osage, Hinson toured Fox River Mills, America’s oldest performance sock manufacturer. She also stopped for lunch at Taste on Main Street.
Hinson said she was impressed with how the Fox River Mills is merging generations of workers together. The conversation there centered around the issue of workforce.
“That’s definitely the common theme,” Hinson said. “Just seeing the dedication their employees have – they’ve seen a challenge in the last year with the pandemic. I heard from them that the PPP was essential for them to continue operations and stay open.”
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Paycheck Protection Program provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.
In Northwood, Hinson visited ADA Enterprises, a family-owned manufacturer of plastisol-coated animal flooring.
“I was impressed with not only all of the products they make and the operation in general, but how they’re looking to really expand their e-commerce business and continue to look for new markets for their products,” Hinson said of ADA.
“Last year was a challenging year for a lot of people. They were not exempt from that. At the same time, hearing the ways they’re trying to innovate and get new orders and continue to take care of their workforce was great to hear.”
Hinson left with action items such as workforce and immigration reform. She believes traveling throughout her district is crucial.
“I wanted to make it a priority to get out to all 20 counties in the district as soon as I could after being sworn in to office,” Hinson said. “I need to have that real-world feedback from my constituents, which I will take back to Washington, D.C.”
Hinson believes there is a synergy between workforce issues and immigration reform.
“A lot of what we talked about was looking at internship programs,” Hinson said of a recent town hall meeting. “Looking at the guest worker Visa programs and how we can improve those. Childcare access and affordability is something that continues to be a theme no matter where I go.
“[We need] to make sure we’re looking at smart policies for economic development. I heard overwhelmingly that a $15 minimum wage would kill small business in rural Iowa.”
Hinson said she is vocal about her opposition to a $15 an hour minimum wage, and that traveling throughout her district has only confirmed her beliefs.
Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 641-421-0578, or by email at email@example.com.