September-October 2022

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PalletCentral • September-October 2022 11 on the Hill and his social media platforms. He has also leveraged his position on the House Committee on Natural Resources to support the national forests and forest products, including by being a cosponsor of the Trillion Trees Act, which promotes working forests. By developing relationships with members of Congress, especially those on the committees with jurisdiction over agriculture and forestry, like the House Committee on Natural Resources, NWPCA's public affairs team can invite stakeholders to get boots on the ground rather than the usual dialogues on the Hill. We are incredibly grateful for the willingness of the teams at Pallet Machinery Group and O'Malley Timber Products to host Congressman Wittman. We have another congressional plant tour scheduled this year and have a list of companies that have expressed willingness to host their member of Congress next year. If you would like to be added to this list, please do not hesitate to reach out. In addition to congressional plant tours, next year will have an additional opportunity for direct engagement of elected representatives with the return of the NWPCA Congressional Fly-In. We are still in the planning phase so stay tuned for more information early next year. We appreciate Congressman Wittman's willingness to engage directly with local businesses and see firsthand an often-overlooked critical aspect of the supply chain. As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and a former environmental specialist for the Virginia Department of Health, he is uniquely suited to play a crucial role as an advocate of Virginia's pallet businesses that rely on the resources in the First District. Hallie Fuchs is manager, public affairs. She also helps manage the NWPCA Political Action Committee for the Association. She may be reached at hfuchs@palletcentral. com or by calling 703.519.6104. Get to know Rob Wittman (R-VA) What led you to run for Congress? Throughout my time in public office, I have had the unique opportunity to lead and listen to the concerns and challenges faced by members of our community. These challenges require real pragmatic and inspiring solutions, and I have and will always be focused on tackling the real issues and getting tangible results. What are the top concerns you hear from small businesses in the First District? The top concern I hear of is the shortage of a skilled workforce pool. Some of these businesses are waiting to hire qualified employees and have difficulty finding skilled workers to expand their operations and get our economy going again. I also hear about reducing the regulatory burden small businesses must go through to expand their capabilities. Too often, what we see coming out of Washington is nothing but red tape and bureaucracy, making it difficult to operate and expand. We need to provide small businesses the flexibility to make decisions quickly and effectively to succeed. What are your top priorities for the next session to benefit the manufacturing and the forestry products industry? The manufacturing and transportation of forestry products must be a priority in the 118th Congress. One of my priorities next Congress should be to help the industry find and train a sufficient workforce for the forestry products industry to succeed. Moreover, there is an estimated 80,000 shortage of truck drivers nationwide. For any industry to grow, it needs a safe and reliable method of transportation to fill orders. I will work with my colleagues to ensure a new and well-trained pool of truck drivers to close the gap. That is why I have introduced the PROPEL Act. This bill would increase students' freedom to choose the right educational options by allowing them to use federal Pell Grants for short-term vocational or technical training, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training. The PROPEL Act would provide students with increased resources and opportunities to enter the workforce with the skills necessary to succeed and deliver qualified pool workers to close the hiring gaps. Fun fact: For a summer in college, I worked as the mascot for the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team in Richmond, Virginia.

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