By Shawn Cunningham
A familiar face on Capitol Hill is home in her native Aroostook County. Maine Senator Susan Collins is in the county embarking on a small tour. She's meeting with local entrepreneurs to hear firsthand the issues that are impacting them, the county's workforce and strategize ways to increase Northern Maine economic development. Shawn Cunningham caught up with the senator in Houlton.
Maine Senator Susan Collins is touring small businesses throughout Aroostook County. The first stop, Houlton home of Bison Pumps, the 2013 Aroostook County Entrepreneurs of The Year. Collins says if federal lawmakers want to see more businesses grow on American soil, its important those same lawmakers show they support small businesses.
Sen. Susan Collins says "its so important to support small businesses such as this one and it is great to see that they're expanding internationally, that they have clients and dealers all over the world."
"its incredibly important to have lawmaker support there are a lot of things that we do for our business that require support from our federal government and state government and its nice that she takes the time to come and see what we're doing and talk to us about maybe what some of our issues and concerns are," adds David Harbison, the owner of Bison Pumps.
Collins met Bison Pumps workers, many of whom graduated from Northern Maine Community College. Harbison says he's pleased to grow a business and workforce that's county based. Collins says that her makes especially proud since she helped launch an innovation program that educated many of his staff.
Collins adds "its great to meet so many of the graduates of the machinist program because years ago I helped get the seed money to get that program going and today we see these very talented skilled machinists working at good jobs."
The first three years of a new business are critical, its during that time a business will either sink or swim. Collins says it's the government's responsibility to help businesses succeed and the main way to do that is adequate funding.
Collins adds "part of it is making sure that they have the financing, the technical support and the advice that they need and that's where government can play a limited role."
Harbison says "One thing that lawmakers can do is listen, we have lot's to talk about we have lot's to offer that can help them make decisions that help us."
Collins says that's what she's working in Washington to do. Lend an hear to small businesses and be their voice on Capitol Hill so that they can succeed and grow.