OXFORD, Maine — Keiser Industries President David Cutler told Rep. Mike Michaud on Monday that the inability of people to get financing is what is hurting the manufactured home industry the most.
“The financing is what kills the housing industry. People with good credit just can’t get the loans,” Cutler told Michaud during a 45-minute tour of the plant on Route 121.
Michaud began his “Make It In Maine” tour Monday with stops in Auburn, Paris and Oxford. The initiative is designed to help him collect ideas from Mainers and the manufacturing community that he can take back to Washington, D.C. and turn into legislative action.
Despite a recent $2 million contract with Maine Housing Authority and the state’s attempt to make Maine a better place for businesses, Cutler told the congressman that “it’s the private investor we survive on and the homeowner. It’s tough. We see federal programs that come through but for us they’ve done little.”
Cutler said that until people feel confident in the economy they will not make capital investments in homes. Instead, they will pay rent to ensure they don’t invest a large amount of money only to lose it.
“They know they can stop tomorrow if they have to,” he said of people’s decision to pay high monthly rents rather than risk losing their home if they lose their job.
Although the company recently landed a multimillion dollar contract in Massachusetts to build a 53-unit apartment complex, Cutler said in order for the company to continue keeping its workforce going the it must have people who are willing to buy.
“If both sides come together and just make a decision that will help. It’s killing us. It’s killing us,” Cutler told Michaud of the need for the country to resolve its economic issues.
Michaud said he agreed that two of the most important issues facing Congress now are its ability to come together on budget issues and dealing with the debt ceiling. “I think that trust is missing,” he said.
It doesn’t help that both parties seem to work out a deal in the press, he said. “It’s my hope they will take a break and come back and try to work together.”
Linda Walbridge, director of the Western Maine Economic Development Council, said the recent contract Keiser landed with the State of Maine to furnish replacement mobile homes with modular homes is the first time Maine has given a manufacturer within the state any portion of the contract. The effort by the Western Maine Economic Council to help negotiate the contract was an example of what can and should be happening in Maine and the country, she said.
In addition to Keiser Homes, Michaud met Monday with company officials at the Thomas Moser cabinetmaking plant and Falcon Performance Footwear, both in Auburn, and Maine Machine Products in Paris.
Michaud is also encouraging Maine manufacturers to tell him about their issues through an online survey he created to find out why business chose to make their product in Maine and what type of federal changes are needed to help them succeed.
The survey is available on Michaud’s website: michaud.house.gov.
The results of the anonymous survey will be available publicly in the future.
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