Those who are still operating share the view: If government will leave them alone, cut taxes and eliminate mandates, then they could grow, state Sen. Diane Black of Gallatin said after visiting Walker Die Casting and Southern Carton with Wayne Coomes, a local Republican Party figure.
Black also saw Sanford's pencil factory that was shutting down for a year and is now being demolished. And she saw the ICP building where nearly 2,500 people made heating and cooling units until eight years ago. Some of the work from each plant is now done out of the country.
Asked if the North American Free Trade Agreement should be adjusted, Black replied she'd want to study the international trade law before commenting. As a state senator, she's been focused on state issues.
Black did point to a $13.4 trillion dollar federal debt that when divided by the U.S. population would assign a $44,000 responsibility to each person, regardless of age, a point that she makes to students when speaking at schools.
Speaking on Lewisburg's public square Tuesday afternoon, Black was asked if taxes are cut on business, how will the debt be paid: Do you cut taxes or expenses?
"You do both," she replied.
And she differs with the Obama Administration's decision to bail out General Motors. As one who believes the market forces should have been allowed to work, if the decision were up to Black, GM would have been allowed to fail. Another company would have been able to take over and use the plants and machinery left by the American automaker.
Black won the GOP nomination to run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro who decided against running again. She's scheduled on Oct. 14 at Volunteer State Community College to debate her Democratic rival, Brett Carter. He also lives in Gallatin. Carter was awarded the Bronze Star for his work in Iraq dealing with operations law such as rules of engagement and detainee operations subsequent to Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse revealed about six years ago. Carter is an attorney with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, Nashville.
Black maintains her nursing certificate. She recalls her service in the state House and Senate where, during Gov. Don Sundquist's administration when an income tax was being debated on the floor and opposed by car horn honking outside, she assisted other lawmakers suffering high blood pressure because of political pressure.
As a nurse, Black has her own insights on America's health care system, noting forms that must be filled out before each visit to the doctor.
"Think of what would happen to the cost of banking if you had to do that every time you cash a check," she said over supper at Shoney's.
Coomes, the former police chief here, commented that doctors and hospitals feel "intimidated" by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a cause of paperwork to permit sharing of documents with fellow medical service providers before a doctor would conduct an exam, or a medical procedure.
If elected, Black would like to serve on a panel that deals with benefits for active military personnel. Coomes recommended the Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on Personnel and Reserve Affairs Committee.
Black also spoke to the monthly meeting of the Marshall County Republican Party where she said national media have reported Tennessee's 6th Congressional District as having the "greatest chance" of being "flipped" from Democrat to Republican.
"A quarter of the new Congress will have a new attitude," she said.
"I'm for a balanced budget amendment," Black said, adding that's what's kept Tennessee lawmakers from spending more than what's available.
Black was asked if she would participate in a debate with Carter at a venue in Shelbyville. She declined, citing her one debate with her Democratic opponent next month.