Whitfield began his afternoon in Trigg County at the new home of locally owned GFB, Inc. Also meeting with GFB was Carl Heckmann, Ft. Campbell’s Deputy Director of Contracting.
The meeting, arranged in part by local optometrist and Rotarian Scott Sutherland, was meant to help spur business between GFB and the massive military base.
As some of GFB’s 30-plus employees were manufacturing foam pieces for American automobile companies, Heckmann said he was inspecting GFB’s capacities, to see which Ft. Campbell contractors might be suitable to do sub-contracting work in Cadiz.
Coincidentally, the factory was also being inspected by a quality-controls auditor for additional certification that would allow GFB to do more automobile-related work.
Heckmann, who has lived in Cadiz for more than 30 years, said he initially didn’t see a lot of interest from local industry in working with the military base. As the base has continued to grow, however, that has changed.
“It always perplexed me years ago,” he said. “I see a lot more interest now… The world has gotten a lot smaller.”
Whitfield then proceeded down the road to Stone Plastics. Though the plant has been operating in the city for more than 20 years, it was the congressman’s first visit.
“We didn’t know you had cookies,” joked Michael Pape, Whitfield’s District Director. Stone Plastics, of course, makes many containers for the food industry, some of which — complete with treats — were seated on a nearby table.
Whitfield took a tour of Stone Plastics, as he did at GFB. He also learned about a new biodegradable form of plastic that literally turns to carbon dust in the heat of a landfill. Made from corn, Stone Plastics formed 20,000 pounds of the material just three years ago. This year, they will produce 3 million pounds.
Before leaving the plant, plant managers discussed with Whitfield the effect high gas prices have had on business. Joe Stone said the cost of materials, which are largely petroleum based, has gone up 68 percent since 2004.
Whitfield said the high cost of crude, and in turn gasoline, is a culmination of increased world demand and supply that has been diminished by international events (the War in Iraq) and Mother Nature (Hurricane Katrina), alike.
“It’s a volatile commodity,” he said, adding that Congress is continuing to investigate allegations of price gouging.
The subject of illegal immigration was also brought up at Stone Plastics, prompting Whitfield to explain that the House of Representative’s version of an immigration-reform bill — which further criminalized being in the country without proper documentation — was deliberately stringent.
“We knew we had to stick with a strong position if we were going to negotiate with the Senate,” he said. An immigration reform bill is currently stalled in the Senate.
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.