Powder Praise

If greenfield cement plant openings aren’t rare enough, how about ones with cabinet officials on hand? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a seven-term

If greenfield cement plant openings aren’t rare enough, how about ones with cabinet officials on hand? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a seven-term representative for the Illinois Congressional District encompassing the Caterpillar Inc. home base, offered these perspectives as the headlining guest of the Holcim (US) Inc. Ste. Genevieve dedication:

This is a pretty big deal when you can get the Governor, a couple of Congressmen, the Lieutenant Governor, the Swiss Ambassador, the Secretary of Transportation, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and the Surgeon General to attend. This is a big deal and a big day for Holcim. Congratulations. Let’s hear it for Holcim.

I am delighted to be here with two of President Obama’s team, of which I’m a part. We really feel it a privilege to be here, and the reason I’m here is because Jo Ann Emerson, your outstanding Congressman, called me and said, You need to be here because this is an important part of rebuilding the infrastructure of America. And I can tell you, we like cement at the Department of Transportation. We can’t do what we do, and the states can’t do what they do without cement. I am on my way to North Dakota, but I could not pass up the opportunity to be here. So, Jo Ann, thank you for making sure that I showed up here. I also want to thank Russ Carnahan for his leadership. I want to introduce a former member of the Congress and a former great leader of Congress, who is on the board of Holcim, former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Bob Livingston. Bob is from Louisiana.

I want you, all of you from Missouri, to know that your governor has used the infrastructure money, the economic recovery money, very well. We have worked with your governor to make sure that Missouri gets its lion’s share of the economic recovery money, and Missouri is also in the high-speed, inner-city rail business because of the leadership of your governor. So, governor, thank you for all of your leadership on transportation.

I meant what I said. About 14 months ago, we came to this job, and within 30 days of the President being sworn in, Congress passed an economic recovery plan, with $48 billion dollars coming to DOT, $28 billion of that went to roads and bridges. And, we’re finishing that work this year around America, and America needs a lot of cement to finish out the economic recovery and what we’re doing around America to put people to work.

The two words I like hearing here today are safety Û and I love that sign out in front: 391 days without an accident. We love the idea. At DOT, safety is our number-one priority, and I’m so delighted it is also at this great company. Sustainability is the other word. We think sustainability is very important in all of things that we do. For the CEO and those in leadership to talk about the importance of sustainability and define it the way that they did is also very important.

As we finish out this portion of economic recovery, and in anticipation of a new transportation bill, we will work with our friends in Congress on the Transportation Committee and the Appropriations Committee, with Russ and Jo Ann and others that serve in Congress on a new transportation bill. There will be a large number of jobs that will continue in transportation in building roads, fixing bridges, and making sure we have the kind of high-speed rail system that I think America really wants.

But we can’t do it without cement. So we are delighted to pass by here today and say Congratulations on using our great natural resources here in Missouri and the great natural resource of the river to deliver this product around the country. This is an extraordinary story and an example of when people really work together Û local government, state government, the federal government, business Û good things will happen, jobs will be created, and we will continue to improve infrastructure all over America. Congratulations, Holcim, on a great safety record, for being here in Missouri, for employing people, and for helping us improve infrastructure around America.