PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For some locals, the president’s trip brought some one-on-one time to talk about infrastructure projects going on, with the people actually involved with them.
Though many of those who met with the president are in a variety of different trades industries, all KOIN 6 News spoke with agree this is a day they’ll never forget.
While word of the president’s trip to Portland wasn’t exactly news to Lauren Heitzman, it did bring one surprising opportunity.
“He’s like, ‘how would you like to introduce him?'” recalled Heitzman. “Immediately, I was floored.”
As President Biden made his way to PDX Thursday afternoon, Heitzman got a chance to speak with him one-on-one just minutes before his address at the airport.
After a recent switch in careers, Heitzman is an apprentice electrician with O’Neill Electric and the IBEW Local 48 union, and says the opportunity for the president to meet the people involved in local infrastructure projects makes all the difference.
“These are massive projects. They’re going to bring Oregon into the future, they’re going to provide jobs, good union jobs, good pay, for years to come,” said Heitzman. “What this whole infrastructure thing is about is ensuring that people in this country are able to actually work for something and not just because they have to work.”
Christian Schoewe, an architect with ZGF, also got to speak with the president during his brief visit.
“The president came out to kind of get a tour, see what’s going on, so his team gathered, and the message for the president today was sharing what a resilient airport looks like, what the improved runway will look like, and how when the new terminal opens in a couple years, how that facility will be seismically resilient,” said Schoewe.
A big focus during the visit was the new terminal coming to PDX and the energy efficiency it’ll bring with it, along with the ability to withstand a large earthquake.
“It shows off the expertise that we have regionally, but can also be replicated anywhere,” said Schoewe. “Every wood project you see in the project came 100% from the region and 90% of it was we can trace that product all the way back to the forest.”
Both say it’s important to show off the hard work of Oregonians in the trades.
“Today was a whirlwind,” said Schoewe. “I enjoyed it but I definitely will not forget it.”
“It felt so right to be there representing my union, representing the trades,” added Heitzman. “It’s an incredible, incredible, can’t say it enough, experience to be a part of this.”
Locals involved in Thursday’s visit say they hope the president and other leaders present can take away what they saw in-person and apply it to other infrastructure projects in the country and even inspire others to join the trades.