By tradition, Congress recesses for the month of August. During
the Senate's early years, members attempted to adjourn in the spring, before the
weather in our nation's capital became unbearable. Of course, this was in the
days long before air conditioning and modern ventilation systems. Today, despite
those modern conveniences, the August recess continues to be a regular feature
of the congressional calendar. This four-week summer break, however, is much
more than a month-long vacation.
|Senator Susan Collins represents the State of Maine in the U.S. Senate.|
During my time in the Senate, I have always made it a priority to come home
to Maine every weekend. But the extended August recess is always a good
opportunity for me to visit many towns and cities, and to listen to the concerns
of my constituents from York to Aroostook County. I am pleased to have been
invited to take part in many events this month celebrating the success of
several small businesses here in Maine and their contributions to our nation. I
would like to take this opportunity to tell you more about a couple of them.
Earlier this month, I was delighted to participate in a "golden anniversary"
celebration in South Paris, as Maine Machine Products marked its 50th year in
business. The story of Maine Machine Products is the story of American family
business at its very finest. Roland Sutton founded this company a half-century
ago with a vision, a commitment to excellence, and two employees. With his sons
Jeff, David, and Ted at his side, Roland's vision has grown to a "family" of 150
highly skilled and dedicated associates. His small machine shop has grown into a
state-of-the-art facility producing components that are vital to defense, health
care, and many other high-tech fields. The company's reputation for excellence
now reaches around the world.
Coming from a family business background, I know the challenges Maine's small
business owners face and the sacrifices they make. What the entire Maine Machine
Products family has accomplished is truly inspiring. The company has invested in
training and equipment, in developing new products, and in forming strategic
alliances throughout its industry that have positioned it well for the global
economy of the 21st century.
As Maine Machine Products reputation has grown around the world, it has
remained very much a vital part of its community. The opportunities it provides
the people of the Oxford Hills region demonstrate how important family
businesses are to our great state and to our nation.
In South Portland, I visited Portland Valve. The business, which is located
in a facility near the Spring Point Lighthouse, employs about 55 people. Anyone
unfamiliar with the work underway inside this unassuming facility would be
surprised to learn that this company is one of the U.S. Navy's leading
manufacturers of air and electric valves for submarines and ships, including the
new DD(X) destroyer. In response to the need for change, Portland Valve is
currently completing the design and testing of what it is calling a "Smart
Valve" to help reduce future maintenance on Navy ships and submarines, and thus
save the American taxpayer money. The ingenuity of the owners and employees of
Portland Valve makes me proud to be their advocate.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, I have a particular
interest in this new technology. That is why I was pleased to be able to help
secure $2.5 million dollars in the Senate defense spending bill to help support
this worthwhile project.
Small businesses are the backbone of Maine's economy. More than 90 percent of
all Maine businesses are small, and they employ nearly two-thirds of all working
Maine people. These small businesses play a vital role in our communities and
our economy and are the key to the financial well-being of our state. I am
always pleased to have the opportunity to personally visit these businesses and
to learn, first-hand, what they feel can be done to help them to not only
survive in Maine but to thrive. It truly is a great way to spend my "working