Vice President Biden toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard September 3rd with Maine Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, to highlight the history and future of Maine’s manufacturing innovation.
The tour of the 214-year-old Naval Shipyard gave Michaud a chance to share Maine’s shipbuilding history, manufacturing potential, and University of Maine’s “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” initiative, with Biden.
“I’ve traveled a million miles around the world as vice president and I traveled a million miles before that,” said Biden to more than a 1000 attendees at the shipyard. “And the fact of the matter is you’re the best in the world. It’s true.”
The shipyard’s apprenticeship program, where workers attend York County Community College or Great Bay Community College at night and are trained in hands-on engineering skills during the day, impressed Biden.
Biden pointed out that nationwide, “85 percent of the people who go through an apprenticeship program are hired and are still working at the job two years later.”
Biden reiterated his support to bring jobs back to the United States. Earlier this year the Pentagon announced that service members will only wear American-made footwear, which is an opportunity for Maine with three New Balance factories in the state.
Michaud has spent years advocating for USA manufacturing and specifically pushed for American made footwear for our service personal. He gave President Obama shoes made for the president, with his name on them, by New Balance.
“I’m pleased I had the opportunity to show Vice President Biden first-hand today the results of investing in American works,” said Michaud.
During the Vice President’s visit Michaud discussed the “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” program, an easy to assemble light weight bridge technology developed at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The composite based bridge material is stronger and more durable, while being more environmentally friendly.
“Advancing innovative technologies and ideas like ‘Bridge-in-a-Backpack’ and composite bridges is one of the many ways Maine can continue building on its long history of manufacturing and position ourselves for continued success into the future,” said Michaud.
The Congressman previously helped save the PNS shipyard from closure when the federal government put it on the BRAC list for potential shut down. Then, the workers proved the quality of their work to the BRAC Commission, with Michaud, Governor Baldacci, the unions and the rest of the congressional delegation.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Senator Jean Shaheen, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter also joined Biden and Michaud on the tour.
“My message to the Vice President was simple: the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a model of quality and efficiency and will continue to be an important part of our nation’s defense infrastructure for years to come,” said Pingree.