Smith visits Perryville to discuss issues


Perryville leaders were able to speak their mind to a government official.
Congressman Jason Smith, and recently appointed chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, spoke to Perryville business leaders at the Catalyst Center for Business on local issues facing the area.
Smith, who was appointed in January, helps measure the impact federal revenue and spending, from the tax code and trade policy to Medicare and Social Security listened to comments and concerns about inflation, the job market, the housing market, healthcare and difficulties of the supply chain.
Perry County Presiding Commissioner Mike Sauer spoke on the problems the county has seen with inflation especially when it comes to building the Perry County Joint Justice Center.
“Our budget has gone up nearly $10 million because of inflation,” Sauer said.
Smith said that inflation is a problem and he went to different parts of the country such as Oklahoma and Virginia to hear the issues they are facing as well.
“The things we learned in Perryville and those other places will help us create our economic package,” Smith said. “The package will help provide relief for working-class families, small businesses and farmers. Inflation has gone up 14.9 percent in the last two years and that means that every American has lost two months of their salary with really nothing to show for it.”
Smith also heard issues facing Perry County when it came to the job market. Local business such as TG Missouri have had trouble finding workers to fill positions and other business leaders want to continue to grow the area.
Perry County currently has a two percent unemployment rate. Those included issues with truck drivers for Rollet Brothers Trucking and hiring quality employees that want to drive. Smith noted that there is momentum to lower the age requirements to get a CDL license to 18.
“If people are able to fight for their country at 18, they should be able to drive a truck,” Smith said.

The housing market was also discussed by local relator Brandy Balsman, who noted that there are only 11 houses currently on the market that aren’t under contract with another four or five that have contracts.
Perry County Economic Development Director Crystal Jones said that there are incentives to build houses in place in Perryville.
“Sometimes those incentives are not enough,” she said. “Housing is a real problem in Perryville and we are looking at every avenue to fix it.”
Smith was shocked by how few homes are available in the area. He also commended Perryville on allowing Ranken to build a campus in the city. The building is currently under construction and a grand opening will be held soon.
“That’s amazing,” he said. “I toured Ranken in St. Louis and was amazed by how great the campus was and what it provides. I’m happy they moved into Perryville, but where are they going to stay?”
Chris Wibbenmeyer, CEO of Perry County Health Systems, discussed the problems facing rural healthcare and mentioned the partnership of the local hospital with Mercy.
“I think the partnership with Mercy will allow Perry County to continue to get quality healthcare and lessen the effects that other rural healthcare faces.”
Smith also heard issues with trade, exports and the supply chain.
Companies such as Citizens Electric are facing abnormally large wait times to receive products such as transformers. The lead time has grown to has much as 72 months on larger items and even different paneling.
At the end of the discussion, Smith received a key to Perryville Mayor Larry Riney and Sauer.
“I have never gotten a key to the city before,” Smith said. “It’s something I will always cherish and will hang up somewhere everyone can see it.”