Moline Dispatch Argus

During my last campaign, and since I took office, I've been steadfast in my commitment to revitalize our economy, create local jobs and strengthen middle class families. That commitment will never waver, and although we still have a ways to go, we've made strides over the last two years and have had some success working together.

To better advocate for local workers, I regularly hold "Cheri on Shifts" at local job sites around the region. I've held these shifts at veteran job training programs, apprenticeship programs for the skilled trades, senior living facilities, and businesses large and small. All these experiences have provided me a firsthand opportunity to shadow local workers and learn more about local businesses to get ideas on how we can create jobs.

I am also a leader in the "Make it in America" initiative that is focused on creating jobs here at home and bolstering American manufacturing. As part of this initiative, I spearheaded legislation that would allow the government to take into account the number of American jobs created when accepting bids for taxpayer funded contracts. This is exactly the type of common sense thinking we need more of in Washington.

As part of my commitment to manufacturing, I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the president last year when he came to Galesburg and make the case for why Illinois should be the home for the new, first-of-its-kind Digital Manufacturing Lab. In February, we scored a major victory when Illinois was awarded this job-creating project.

The Manufacturing Lab will develop innovative solutions that bolster our manufacturing sector and give our region a competitive edge. Because many of these jobs require specialized skills, the Manufacturing Lab will partner with community colleges, four-year universities, trade organizations, and local economic development organizations to ensure our students have the skills for the jobs of the future.

This summer, I led the effort to defeat a partisan attempt to eliminate critical funding for the opening of Thomson prison and ensure it remains on track to open. I recently was honored to announce the prison has hired a warden and will be hiring 300 more positions by the end of the year. This long-dormant prison will provide a major boost to our economy in Northwest Illinois and create over 1,100 good-paying jobs.

Because I believe that investing in our infrastructure will not only create jobs but be a down payment on our long-term economic health, I joined with Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and Congressman Rodney Davis to introduce bipartisan legislation that will speed up repairs and upgrades to our aging locks and dams along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

I was pleased when the president signed provisions from our bill into law earlier this year and believe our hard work and willingness to reach across the aisle will make the movement of the high quality manufacturing and agricultural goods from our region to the world safer and more efficient.

In my short time in Congress, I've laid the groundwork for creating local jobs and improving our region's economy. Yes, we still have a ways to go, but I am proud of the progress we've made together. My commitment to the middle-class families of our region is as strong as ever and if re-elected, I will work with the same sense of urgency as when I first took office to keep our economy moving forward.