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Collins speaks to business coalition about economy, federal spending cuts
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins talks with SKF employee Tommy Andrew during a tour of the plant in Flowery Branch. - photo by Tom Reed

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., warned the South Hall Business Coalition on Thursday about federal spending cuts scheduled to hit at the beginning of March.

The remarks were made during Collins’ first full week spent back in the 9th District since he headed to Congress at the beginning of the month.

He also toured the SKF manufacturing plant in Flowery Branch and pledged to use his position on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to reduce regulations for local businesses.

“I think the cuts are something that we’re going to see happen and it’s being debated right now,” he said Thursday. “What I’m telling people is these are cuts that are going to come, there’s going to be possibly some changes to it, and that’s all being worked out right now. But I think the realization is there’s a lot of things that we believe from a federal government side that we’ve got to begin to cut to get our budget balanced.”

Congress voted in December on “fiscal cliff” legislation that created a short-term fix, extending some tax breaks but pushing pending spending cuts back to March.

The U.S. House of Representatives is in recess this week, giving Collins time to update residents on what’s happening in Washington.

At the business coalition meeting at the Mulberry Creek Community Center, Collins criticized spending habits in Washington. Things are tough because Congress spends money but doesn’t account for how to pay for it, the congressman said.

Collins said he wants input from small-businesspeople in his district on issues the federal government will face soon, including budget issues but also topics like immigration reform.

Collins also saw how SKF Industries plant employees make ball bearings and said after the visit that he was struck with the level of investment the company puts into its people. SKF, an international manufacturer based in Sweden, acquired the 63-acre Flowery Branch plant property in 1986 and employs more than 300 workers.

Jonas Alfredsson, process engineering manager, said he hopes that Collins brings back to Washington the concept that manufacturing can be done in the U.S. and doesn’t need to be outsourced to be cost-effective.

“It’s very important to have a manufacturing footprint here,” he said.

Collins said his job is to be the 9th District’s cheerleader and talk about the economic development that makes a difference.

“I’ve been in businesses and their concern is, like SKF, like the others, they’re doing top-notch work, but regulations that are just piling on additionally to them,” Collins said. “So we’re taking that back. I serve on Oversight and Government Reform, and we’re going to be dealing with that.”

Collins also spent time in other parts of the district, touring a small business in Elbert County on Monday and giving an update on Congress in Royston on Tuesday. He plans to host his first small-business round table in Madison County today.