Thursday, 23 January 2020 22:45

Bishop makes stops in Richmond County

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Congressman Dan Bishop speaks about the goings on in Washington during a visit Thursday o the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce. Congressman Dan Bishop speaks about the goings on in Washington during a visit Thursday o the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Four months after taking office, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop spent the day in Richmond County.

The Congressman started the day with a tour of American Woodmark before having lunch at Henry’s Uptown Cafe in Rockingham and meeting with local leaders at the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of crazy things going on in Washington these days,” he said with a slight chuckle, referencing the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and tensions with Iran. “It’s a very momentous time. A lot of division, but, what I’d like to see the opportunity to do is pass legislation that’ll make Americans’ daily life better and help us do business.

“We seem to be concentrating on other things, but I hope we’ll get this phase past us without too much more delay and we’ll focus on more opportunities to do things for the American people, to do things for Richmond County.

Bishop represents the 9th Congressional District, which also includes part of his home county of Mecklenburg, Union, Anson, Scotland and Robeson counties and part of Bladen County.

Speaking on trade policy, Bishop said he was excited about the administration reaching an agreement with China.

“It has a lot of good things for the American marketplace, a lot of good things for American farmers,” he said. “I think those things will pay benefits here in North Carolina.”

Another agreement, with Mexico and Canada, was recently approved, although Bishop said it should have gone through before he took office.

“It provides a lot of opportunities for business people in North Carolina, particularly farmers,” he said. “Mexico is the largest export market, I understand, for corn … that’s just one example, but those guys need more export opportunities and that should help.”  

The freshman Congressman serves on both the Small Business Committee and the Homeland Security Committee.

“Both of those are interesting assignments,” he said.

The extension of broadband internet service through USDA grants to rural counties in the state Bishop called good news, saying businesses tend to start popping up in those areas.

He also mentioned the recent announcement of Title I education allocations, saying that Richmond County’s share is $3.1 million.

When it comes to federal hurricane relief, Bishop said it was a bit of good news and bad news.

It was recently announced that a $542 million funding package for areas in North Carolina hit hard by Hurricane Florence in 2018 — including Bladen, Scotland and Robeson counties — was authorized to move forward.

“It’s great news that, finally, that next bureaucratic step has been reached,” he said, “ … but it is incomprehensible to me that it takes two years to get to that point.”

He said the process takes “far too long” and Congress is looking to reform that process to help communities recover quicker.

County Manager Bryan Land said the county is still waiting on a half-million dollar reimbursement nearly two years later.

Bishop later remarked on his visit to the American Woodmark plant, telling Operations Director Bob Young that what he saw was “encouraging.”

“What you’re doing out there is making is making a lot of difference in a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “You have real interest in the lives of the people that are working for you, and you can see it manifest in the way you deal with them … desiring that every employee have a long-term proprietary interest in the success of Woodmark is improving Woodmark’s results and improving their lives. And I commend you on that.”

Young said he doesn’t believe the government should mandate business practices, like paternity leave, but should reward companies that “do the right thing” with incentives, such as tax breaks.

“I’ve always (felt) it’s the responsibility of the employer to treat their people good,” he said.

The conversation turned toward economic development and education, with Dr. Dale McInnis and the staff at Richmond Community College being applauded for the efforts to train the local workforce — starting at the high school level.

Bishop said he plans to visit the district, including Richmond County, as often as he can.

He also mentioned that he aims to be accessible, pointing out that his personal cellphone number was listed with his election filing records and is on his business card.