US Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-9) visited businesses in Schuylkill Haven and Orwigsburg, hearing their successes, challenges, and adaptations made during the COVID pandemic.
We first caught up to the Congressman at Kepner Scott Shoe Co. in Orwigsburg, a handmade leather children’s shoe maker headquartered on Liberty St.
Now this is a company with a history dating back to 1888. It’s survived multiple world wars, several health pandemics, and more, so it was used to dealing with adversity.
During Meuser’s visit on Friday, co-owner Audrey Zimmerman explained how the shoe company temporarily became a mask-making company but now it’s happily back to making shoes full-time.
Zimmerman tells The Canary that in at least one way, the pandemic was good for businesses like hers because there was such an “emphasis on small business.”
Going forward, she hopes people in Meuser’s position will maintain that focus.
“Just focus on small business and putting small businesses first,” Zimmerman says.
Meuser’s business tour moved from Kepner Scott Shoe Co., one of Schuylkill County’s oldest operations, to Clearly Clean Products, one of the area’s newest manufacturers, just down the road in Orwigsburg.
The Congressman and members of Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce, which organized the tour, got a quick spin around Clearly Clean’s manufacturing facility. The company makes, among many items, recyclable plastic food containers, like the ones you find at your grocer’s meat department.
Clearly Clean used the opportunity to show off its latest project, a large device that recycles those plastic containers right before your own eyes.
The goal is to have machines like these outside supermarkets, where customers can return and recycle the plastic containers they purchased there.
Afterward, as Meuser was walking briskly back to his vehicle, he told us that he feels it’s important to hear from business owners directly on tours like the one on Friday.
“I like hearing directly from (business owners) rather than the theory we hear in Washington,” Meuser says. “I’ve been in business long enough but things change. You want to hear what are the factors that are troubling them.”
In addition to these Orwigsburg businesses, Meuser and members of the Chamber of Commerce visited The White Pear Formal Boutique and Walk-In Art Center in Schuylkill Haven, and Schuylkill Gun Works and CJ’s Tire and Automotive, along Route 61 between Haven and Orwigsburg.