U.S. Senator Joni Ernst sought some input from her constituents during several northwest Iowa stops Wednesday — one of them being Rosenboom in Spirit Lake. The senator said the machine and tool company was a priority for her not only because it is a major employer in the Lakes Area, but also because the company is family-owned.

"We really rely on our employers as subject matter experts," Ernst said. "They know what works for their businesses, and they know what they would like to see out of the federal government. If there's a way we can go back, research and see if we can find a solution or a path forward, we certainly want to do that."

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Ernst toured the production floor with Rosenboom management and met floor workers during the visit. [Tom] Eggers said the company highlighted its two fully automated manufacturing cells. He said one has been in operation for approximately two years, while the new, larger unit was brought in within the last six months. Ernst said she hoped to understand the federal government's impact — positive or negative — on the local business. One of the challenges which stood out to Ernst was the issue of workforce shortages.

"I hear that all across the state of Iowa," she said. "They're trying to overcome some of that with robotics."

She said the issue of current federal trade tariffs also bleeds into the robotics issue, as some of the electronic and industrial components are sourced out of China. In addition to reigning in the cost of healthcare and pharmaceuticals for workers, Ernst said she intends to continue supporting vocational training through the federal Carl D. Perkins program.

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