Morgan Griffith: Coal in Salem?
During two visits to local manufacturing facilities today, I heard encouraging news about the economy that I wanted to share with you. My stops at Blue Ridge Diesel and Carter Machinery in Salem offered a positive outlook of how businesses and jobs are faring today. People at both locations let me know that reducing regulations and the tax cuts have been good for business.
Both companies said coal production was extremely important to their businesses and the increase in coal business has been vital for them.
Blue Ridge Diesel: “If coal is booming, we are booming.”
The Blue Ridge Diesel plant in Salem services, rehabs, and sells engines most often destined for coal mines. Although not in Virginia’s coalfields, its success creates their success. As I heard on my visit, “If coal is booming, we are booming.” And as coal’s fortunes have improved, so have Blue Ridge Diesel’s.
Activity at the mines increases the need for the goods and services of companies like Blue Ridge Diesel and the companies they supply, like Paul’s Fans of Big Rock, Buchanan County. With an improved economy in the coal region, people are more willing to invest in the machines that Blue Ridge Diesel sells and refurbishes.
Carter Machinery: “Eighteen months ago, this lot was empty.”
Carter Machinery rents, sells, and maintains Caterpillar equipment, employing 350 people at its Salem facility. Its business is tied to a lot of industries, but coal is a mainstay. During my visit, an employee pointed to the lot pictured above and told me, “Eighteen month ago, this lot was empty.” Now, it is occupied by engines waiting to be serviced. The strong economy, particularly in the coal region, has brought additional business to Carter Machinery.
Believe it or not, even in the Roanoke Valley, where people don’t often think of themselves as a coal community, there are still thousands of jobs connected to coal.
You can find more pictures from my visits to Blue Ridge Diesel and Carter Machinery below: