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Rep. Schneider tauts new tech in town hall meeting

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10 Lincolnshire) speaks about 40 employees IPC during 'town hall' meeting business's office Dec. 18. | Ronnie

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10, Lincolnshire) speaks to about 40 employees of IPC during a "town hall" meeting at the business's office Dec. 18. | Ronnie Wachter/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 23, 2014 4:42AM

Still in the early stages of his re-election campaign, Congressman Brad Schneider (D-10, Lincolnshire) played to his base by speaking at a technology firm in Bannockburn on Dec. 18.

“My number-one priority will always be, I believe, the economy and jobs,” he told a room of about 40 employees at IPC International Corporation, a private security company. “Hopefully you’re all at jobs that you love.”

Schneider, a first-year representative, has made a habit of touring major businesses in his district, which comprises the majority of the north and northwest suburbs. After taking a look at the trade association’s international headquarters, he swapped questions and answers in a “town hall” meeting with employees.

“I am an imaginary engineer,” Schneider jested.

Schneider spoke momentarily about “conflict minerals,” one of the major public-relations quandaries facing the electronics firms that IPC works with. Conflict minerals are metals mined by slave labor, mostly in the Congo — which make their way to the personal-electronics and automotive manufacturers who must have them, relatively cheap.

“There’s a whole host of issues that run across my desk,” and Schneider had no specific comment about recently approved or upcoming legislation to further regulate that trade. “My soapbox has very small sides, because I’m just beginning.”

Schneider told a story about growing up in Colorado in the 1970s, when it was often impossible to see the Rocky Mountains, though they were only about 20 miles away. Today, he said, because of the Clean Air Act and other environmental regulations, the range is visible on most days. He talked with the group about the jobs that will likely be created when alternative energy sources become more viable, how the shrinking price of natural gas has slowed the progress and the possibility for rebirth in manufacturing sparked by these new technologies.

“We’re going to grow our manufacturing base by creating new kinds of manufacturing,” he said, primarily with jobs that will require more education, but hand individuals more responsibility and larger checks. “It’s going to be coming up with new kinds of manufacturing jobs.”

But teaching young people to work the jobs of the future will likely require an overhaul of the college system, which is currently sending graduates into the work field with suffocating debt.

“It’s out of control now,” Schneider said. “Mass transit is the biggest and best R.O.I. I’ve found so far. Education has to be at least as good, if not better than that.”

None of the IPC employees in the audience (whose supervisors were also in the room) wished to comment about Schneider’s remarks.

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