PHOTO: Congressman Mark Green stands alongside Vulcan employees at the company’s Franklin site on Thursday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Generating over $4 billion in revenue last year and employing more than 8,000 workers across the United States and Mexico, Vulcan Materials Company is the single largest producer of construction materials in the country, as well as a major source of construction materials in Williamson County. On Thursday, Congressman Mark Green paid a visit to Vulcan’s facility in Franklin, touting the company as a shining example of economic growth in Middle Tennessee.
Meeting with the site’s workers, Green praised the company for the amount of jobs it has created, and held a brief question and answer session before taking a tour of the site’s underground mine.
“I’m sure you all are probably aware of the statistics; right now, the unemployment in America is the lowest it’s been in years,” Green said. “All I can tell you is that I am pro-growth. I hate government – I’m in it because I want it to be as small as humanly possible, and I want it out of your way, so you can do what you were made by God to do – that is, make, crush, whatever you do, whatever your job is.”
After Green’s introduction, one Vulcan employee asked the congressman what his thoughts were on mass transit versus conventional means of transportation. Mass transit has been a major topic of conversation in Middle Tennessee as congestion continues to be a significant hurdle to thousands of drivers across the state. Public transportation systems such as trains and rails have also been suggested as part of the ongoing $1 million South Corridor Study, which aims to improve transportation for Nashville’s south corridor.
“So I think most of the mass transit has failed,” Green answered. “These cities go into massive debt – look at Atlanta for example. That has been a massive failure, and Denver just went and spent well over a billion dollars to build this train/rail system, and it’s not working. I like roads, I like stacked roads, and this whole notion that somehow I’m going to give up my car? Americans love cars. So I don’t know, I want to be driving myself.”
Green’s comments regarding Atlanta and Denver mirror those of some residents of those respective cities who have leaned more heavily on vehicular transportation in light of heavy investments into mass transit systems. Despite Green’s comments, public transit use in cities such as Denver have still seen significant increases, though opinions on their longevity and effectiveness remain mixed.
Following the question and answer session, Green was given a tour of the site’s deep underground mine, where workers collect limestone and other raw materials around the clock. Wearing a hardhat and protective eye-wear, Green was guided around the network of caves by truck, with workers explaining all the intricacies that go into such a complicated operation throughout the tour.
“The guys here at Vulcan are the men and women who are mining the rock that will be our concrete, our asphalt, our roads, our bridges,” Green later said. “All this massive growth that’s going on in Middle Tennessee really starts right here, so it’s great to get a first hand look at how they run their operation, and they’re obviously creating jobs. But most importantly, these people are my boss – I answer to them.”