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Fayette businessman likes being here

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Mark Hofmann | Daily Courier Rep. Bill Shuster (right) visited five businesses on Monday owned by Robert McKeown (left) including Image Time, which produces neon clocks like the ones shown above. Jan. 7, 2013

Fayette County businessman Robert McKeown told Congressman Bill Shuster on Monday during a visit to several businesses in Perryopolis that he's happy to be located in the county.

Shuster toured Image Time, Ball Transfer Systems, Advanced Materials Science, Fayette Enterprises and Keystone Gas, all owned by McKeown. He was joined on the tour by Perry Township supervisors A.J. Boni and Clarence Johnson, state Sen. Richard Kasunic and state Rep. Deberah Kula.

McKeown's businesses specialize in the areas of natural gas solutions for hydraulic fracking, manufacturing of heavy duty and light application industrial ball transfer units, insulation, restoring classic vehicles and the production of neon clocks for individuals as well as for larger companies like Harley Davidson, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Yuengling beer — McKeown's biggest customer.

McKeown said he employes a total of 33 people.

“We're really happy here and do good things here,” McKeown said.McKeown told Shuster his biggest competitor is China.

Along with discussing a variety of subjects like America's educational system and social issues, the concern of local business owners was the key reason for the visit.

“You need to stop expanding unemployment compensation,” McKeown said, adding that issue is one of the reasons why it's getting more difficult for businesses to hire.

Shuster said the House of Representatives recently passed reforms to unemployment compensation and one of the measures was to include people on unemployment to have a drug test. He added that more needed to be done.

“We should only take care of the neediest,” Shuster said, adding that welfare reform was to only last so long before people using it can get back on their feet. “We have to say to people you have to take care of yourselves.”

McKeown would like to see less spending out of Washington D.C. Shuster agreed.

Shuster said the recent fiscal cliff issue wasn't the time to have the fight about spending cuts, but the upcoming debt ceiling fight will be the time to push hard for government spending cuts.

“You have to control spending and cut taxes,” Shuster said. “When the taxes go up in business, you're likely to invest less.”

No matter what the subject, Shuster stressed the federal level cannot compete with the efficiency of local government. “You have to bring it down to a local level,” Shuster said. “You know your community.”

Along with his stop in Perryopolis, Shuster also visited several sites in Carmichaels, Cumberland Township, Greene County: the Greene County Department of Economic Development, the Flenniken Public Library, Community Action Southwest and the Southwest Pennsylvania Area on Aging.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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