Kicking off a jobs tour of the Western Slope, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet stopped in Grand Junction on Monday.
"It's nice to see things stamped made here in America," he said during a tour of the the Leitner-Poma of America manufacturing plant.
His message is clear, but the argument seems to be complicated. Bennet believes that he has a workable and affordable approach to creating jobs in Colorado and across the country, yet it has stalled in Congress.
"When you can actually touch and feel things and you meet people that are actually working in this country building things, that picture is very valuable in Washington, D.C.," he noted. "There are great manufacturing jobs right here in Colorado and we're trying to keep that alive throughout our state and throughout the United States."
The second-term senator brought that call to Grand Junction where the Leitner-Poma plant served as the perfect back-drop for his push to extend a wind energy tax credit.
"The tax credit has led to thousands of manufacturing jobs right here in Colorado which could go away if that credit goes away."
Nearly 100 employees at Leitner-Poma of America design everything from ski-lifts to turbines. Currently, they are working on a large scale project with Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
"They're building a giant observation wheel. It's 550 feet tall [and] there [are] 28 cabins," Company President Rick Spear said. "Money wise, it's the biggest contract that we've ever signed."
The contract will last two years and it's giving Spear hopes of expanding. "Right now about five percent of our business is in the wind energy industry," he explained. "We have a niche; we have a very efficient gear-less wind turbine and we're growing."
But, he says any progress could stall if that tax-credit expires. "The downside is huge," Spear said. "Investors basically invest in wind turbines, that's how they get built."
"They use that 30 percent tax credit to get their pay-back. If they don't get that 30 percent tax credit, the payback is way too far out for them to invest."
Senator Bennet says his efforts have seen bipartisan support on Capitol Hill with many Democrats and Republicans supporting it.
But, the reported $4.1 billion bill has yet to pass the U.S. Senate and Bennet worries this tax-credit extension will become yet another victim of short sighted politics in Washington, D.C.
"I call that place 'The Land of Flickering Lights' sometimes because the standard of success is 'Did we keep the lights on another two months,' he said. "Business in this country and the people employed by business in this country can't stand that kind of uncertainty."
Critics of the plan say the government should not continue to offer subsidies to this industry, but Sen. Bennet says to keep these jobs in America you have to help the industry until it can thrive on its own.
"I don't think any tax credit should last forever, the industry should have to prove itself," he said. "But they are competing in a world where other governments are putting subsidies in place to make it hard to compete, making it hard for companies in the U.S. to compete on an even playing field."
The tax credit has been extended seven times in ten years.