Recovery act, auto bailout draw praise at local event

Three years ago, with the auto industry at a near standstill, American Manufacturing Inc. of Toledo was down to its last four employees.

Office manager Danielle Letellier said the office employees helped out in the shop to help process the few orders that trickled in because owner Chuck Gotberg had laid off almost everyone else. She helped to operate the drill press and the stencil.

Even Ms. Letellier and the company’s chief financial officer took layoffs.

“When the auto industry took a hit, the orders fell off,” Ms. Letellier said. “It was a scary time.”

Before the sudden collapse of the market for automobiles in 2008 and 2009, the steel-fabricating company at 2375 Dorr St. had 125 people manufacturing industrial steel containers for automotive-parts suppliers. After nearly shutting its doors in 2009, American Manufacturing is now back with more than 100 workers and looking for additional welders.

On Monday, Mr. Gotberg hosted an event with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and officials of the U.S. Small Business Administration to give credit to the 2009 American Recovery Act, also called the stimulus package. They also praised the 2009 $80 billion bailout of General Motors and Chrysler with the turnaround in American Manufacturing Inc. — and American manufacturing in general.

“The automotive bailout was the key to my recovery,” said Mr. Gotberg, a Northville, Mich., resident. “If General Motors and Chrysler would have failed I’m convinced the supply base in total would have failed, because once it’s dead, it’s dead. You can’t just say that some other company’s going to take the place of General Motors. They can’t.”

He said he considers himself a Republican but has no political activity other than voting.

“We’re on an upward cycle here that really is unprecedented. We’re going to find ourselves in 2013 beyond where we were in 2006 and I’m looking forward to that,” Mr. Gotberg said.

Many of Mr. Gotberg’s workers sat in for the news conference, as did some of his suppliers and a representative of his lender, Waterford Bank of Sylvania Township.

Senator Brown said 800,000 Ohioans owe their livelihoods to auto manufacturing.

“This is a case of what we should do, government working with local lenders, local manufacturing, to bring out a success,” said Mr. Brown. He said that the success of American Manufacturing required all the participants to help out. “I think this is an American success story.”

The revival of the auto industry is a key component of Democratic re-election campaigns, including that of Senator Brown, President Obama, and Miss Kaptur.

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