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Previewing President Obama’s Tour of Siemens Energy Plant

The President continues his recent series of White House to Main Street tours with a stop in Iowa where he will visit the Siemens Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing Plant in Fort Madison. Plant Manager and tour guide to the President discusses preparations for the visit.

(Ed. Note: The President will continue his recent series of White House to Main Street tours with stops in Iowa. In the early afternoon, President Obama will tour the Siemens Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing Plant in Fort Madison and share ideas with workers for continuing to grow the economy and put Americans back to work. Listen to the audio live on April 27, 2010 at 2:10 PM EDT. Later in the afternoon, the President will hold a town hall meeting at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.Watch the town hall live on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:35 PM EDT)

We are so proud to have the opportunity to share with President Obama what we’re doing at the Siemens Energy Ft. Madison Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing Plant. Our employees – and the whole town – are buzzing with excitement. And I am honored to be his personal tour guide during his visit with us. I’m looking forward to showing him around our 600,000-square-foot plant where we have more than doubled our capacity in just the past two years. Of course, I’ve been practicing a bit to make sure my nerves don’t get the best of me, and my kids Nicholas and Marisa have taken turns playing “President Obama,” and then critiquing me… I’m think I’m ready.

We have a team of 600 employees who manufacture the blades for the Siemens 2.3-MW wind turbines, each of which produces enough power for 600-700 homes. These blades are approximately half the length of a football field and weigh 12 tons, so I think President Obama will be very impressed with their size….and with how innovative they are. We won’t have time to walk the entire factory, but I’ll certainly tell him about all the highlights, including the fact that we ship approximately 90% of our blades via rail to our customers’ wind plant sites, which helps us reduce our carbon footprint.

This plant is evidence of the more than $25 billion that Siemens has invested in the U.S. in the past 10 years to grow many of its clean energy technologies. Last fall, we started construction on a plant in Hutchinson, Kansas, where we will have 400 people assembling the structures that house all the generating components for our wind turbines. And just a couple weeks ago, we announced that we will build a new plant at our site in Charlotte, North Carolina, and hire 825 people over the next five years to make our advanced natural gas, power-generating turbines. I can’t tell you how good it feels to work for a company that is growing and investing in clean technologies at a time when many companies aren't.

Of course, we want to show off a bit to President Obama, and we’ve spent the past few days preparing the plant. I want him to see firsthand how we make our wind turbine blades, and also how we’re using tax credits from his stimulus program to expand the production capacity of our latest generation of blade technology. I will show him proof that the programs he helped put in place are in fact doing exactly what they were intended to do: grow our U.S. manufacturing base in clean technologies, create new jobs and revitalize towns like Ft. Madison, Iowa. Not only does each new blade mold we install result in 60-70 more jobs here at our factory, but that investment trickles into the local economy – whether it’s for companies like Huffman Welding & Machine, Inc. right here in Ft. Madison, Iowa, that helps us with fabricating and machining, or KPI in Burlington, Iowa, that processes the balsa wood we use in the manufacture of our blades or the local Hy-Vee grocery store that runs the food service for employees every day. We’re glad to be part of putting people to work in this region, an area that has struggled with tough times over the past 10 years.

That’s what tomorrow is all about: building a new clean technology economy that creates jobs in America. That’s what the President wants, and we’re going to show him what it looks like right here in Ft. Madison.

Robert Gjuraj is Plant Manager at Siemens Energy Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing Plant in Ft. Madison, Iowa