Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06) traveled to Ghana and Liberia last week, leading a fact-finding mission focused on trade, energy, and other economic and social issues in Africa. Saturday in Harbel, Roskam toured Firestone Liberia, one of the largest natural rubber operations in the world which, since 2003, has invested more than $100 million in rebuilding efforts following a devastating 14-year civil war in Liberia.
Firestone Natural Rubber Company is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, which has a major corporate facility in the Sixth District -- the Bridgestone Retail Operations headquarters in Bloomingdale.
The group met with Charles Stuart, Managing Director of Firestone Liberia. They saw a rubber tapping demonstration and toured Firestone Medical Center, the company's hospital, as well as schools and employee housing facilities provided by the company for the more than 6,300 Liberian employees and their families.
"It was valuable to see the incredible progress that's been made in rebuilding Liberia after a destructive civil war," said Rep. Peter Roskam. "That progress was particularly evident at Firestone, where thousands of Liberians have steady jobs, access to high-quality medical facilities and schools, and the ability to create a better life. There is a long way to go before Liberia fully recovers from the devastating effects of a brutal dictator and civil war, but efforts like these are important steps to achieving that goal."
"There is no better way to fully understand the progress that is being made in Liberia, or the great challenges the country is facing, than by witnessing first-hand the development since the 14-year civil war ended," said Charles Stuart. "It was a pleasure to welcome Rep. Roskam and the entire delegation from Congress and the Wilson Center to the Firestone operation to see the remarkable progress our team has made - and continues to make - rehabilitating the rubber industry, rebuilding our operation, and restoring our school system, medical center and the many other social services Firestone provides our employees and neighboring communities."
Firestone Liberia is one of the country's largest private employers. Roskam led the bipartisan fact-finding mission to Ghana and Liberia, which included Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-01). It was privately sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.