On a warm Saturday morning in July, as Kathie Leonard planned to set out on her boat for a day on the water off the coast of Maine, her phone rang. The call was from the head of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, asking if Auburn Manufacturing — the specialized textiles maker Leonard runs — would be interested in hosting “the president” in the coming week.
At first she replied, “President of what?” Leonard told CNN. Then the Maine official clarified she was referring to President Joe Biden.
“I was like, ‘Really? Is this a true call?’” Leonard said. “But I was eventually convinced and said yes, of course we’re going to do it. I mean, you don’t say no to such an opportunity.”
The following Friday at Auburn Manufacturing, located about an hour north of Portland, Biden touted the success of his economic agenda, pointing to manufacturers’ rising investments in construction projects as evidence.
In the growth of blue-collar work, Biden has much to celebrate. In July, construction spending from manufacturers rose about 71% from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data, and manufacturers had 106,000 more employees in August compared to a year earlier, despite business surveys showing softening consumer demand. CNN