Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be paying a visit to Carbon County tomorrow.
The expected GOP presidential nominee will be at Weatherly Casting & Machine Co., a specialty alloy foundry and machine shop supplying the material handling, power generation, pump, pollution control, chemical and other durable goods industries.
Romney is expected to be at the plant at 8:45 a.m. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. and it is open to the public.
The stop is part of a five-day, 1,500-mile bus tour through six general election battleground states. It started today in Stratham, N.H., at a farm owned by former House speaker Doug Scamman, the same venue where Romney formally announced his candidacy a year ago.
The motorcade then heads for Pennsylvania tomorrow, before visiting Ohio on Sunday.
On Monday, Romney is visiting Wisconsin and Iowa, before concluding the tour on Tuesday in Michigan, his native state.
Mike Leib, president of Weatherly Casting & Machine Co., said U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta apparently helped to orchestrate the visit to his 100-year-old firm, which employs 74 people in Weatherly and 40 others at a site in Hazleton.
Several weeks ago, he received a call from the office of Barletta with questions about what is manufactured at the Carbon site. The conversation centered on components the plant makes for the fossil fuel industry including a prototype device which is anticipated to be utilized at natural gas sites.
Discussion then turned to health care costs, which Leib said have increased 55 percent in the past few years.
"I guess we're a microcosm of how difficult it has been for industry the past three years," Leib said this morning.
Leib said the stringent federal regulations being placed on industries utilizing fossil fuels, especially coal, have made it more difficult for businesses.
"Policies out of Washington have exacerbated the situation," he said.
He said things come full circle, explaining that his company makes parts for the coal industry, and is a heavy user of electricity. The new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency are anticipated to increase the cost of electricity, which will make it more difficult for companies like Leib's to stay in business, he said.
"We're a large consumer of electricity," he said. "With our high wages, if we don't have low-cost energy, we're out of business. We have electric furnaces which are energy efficient."
Romney will be speaking from a former grinding shop. Today, a crew from his campaign arrived with a tractor-trailer to prepare the site. A large American flag was brought in as a backdrop.
"They liked the big, old boring mill," Leib said of the Romney personnel. "They were really moved by the things we make."
Leib said the entire Weatherly community seems to be excited about the visit from such a high-profile political leader. That includes MaryEllen Salerno, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Committee.
"The Carbon County Republican Committee is honored to welcome presidential candidate Mitt Romney to beautiful Weatherly, Carbon County," Salerno said. "We stand in solidarity behind the man who will lead us out of these tough economic times into an America that we all know still exists. Where better to hold an event than the Weatherly Casting and Machine Company, a symbol of the hard working people of Carbon County."
Leib said since the early half of the 20th century, products made by Weatherly Casting have played an integral role in the evolution of industry throughout the United States. The foundry served a wide range of industries, from mills to bridge building and mining.
"The Weatherly name has always represented pride, skill, innovation and quality," he said. "A strong work ethic continues today, as exemplified by the many second and third-generation foundry men currently employed at Weatherly Casting, providing a self-sustaining initiative to promote and extend this winning tradition."
Leib admitted that the difficult regulations being handed down by Washington makes it more difficult for him to remain in business.