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Republican cavalcade presses state to reopen manufacturing

Mike Desmond
Workers at Diversified Manufacturing in Lockport now wear masks as they work.

An alliance of Republican lawmakers was in a Lockport heavy industry plant Tuesday pushing to reopen Western New York, as three regions of the state prepare to start opening later this week.

Diversified Manufacturing is a giant industrial plant with vast overhead cranes, machines, giant pieces of metal and, these days, a workforce wearing face masks, because that is the plan of business for the foreseeable future.

Southern Tier Rep. Tom Reed, state Sens. Rob Ortt of North Tonawanada and Chris Jacobs of Buffalo and Lockport Assemblymember Mike Norris were there as part of a circular tour of Western New York, preaching to reopen the economy.

Ortt pointed to the elaborate safety and disease checks just to get into the plant and its essential workers to keep the plant operating during the quarantine.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Rep. Tom Reed speaks to reporters Tuesday.

"You've been essential the whole time and thank God for that," Ortt said, "but you look around, the answer is to look around at how Diversified Manufacturing has done it. This is what it's going to look like to go back to work for a lot of folks. It's wearing masks. It's having your temperature taken when you show up. It's filling out the form and answering those questions. But in doing it this way, we can protect lives and livelihoods."

Diversified is what is called a job shop, making the elaborate metal parts needed by a cross-section of regional industry to make even bigger machines for a worldwide industrial base. It provides good jobs for more than 100 people.

Norris said the region's economy is at idle, not at a production roar.
"Get businesses in manufacturing that have been deemed non-essential open for business," he said, "because there is a competitive part of this as well, in the economy. And I have heard from many of the businesses in my district, and they are hearing other states where their operations are going, and in those businesses they're at a competitive disadvantage."

Jacobs said keeping Western New York closed will do even more economic damage.

"Unfortunately, we are not opening, so I hope that that we see the opening as soon as possible," he said, "because people are hurting and we are trying to do the right thing in terms of this virus, but we also are well aware the longer, more pronounced we see the closing, the more the damage is."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
A cavalcade of Republicans toured Diversified Manufacturing in Lockport.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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