WAHPETON -- GIANT Snacks, Inc. lived up to its name this week in Washington.
On Jul 23, GIANT Snacks represented North Dakota in the second annual Made in America Product Showcase at the White House. Businesses from all 50 states were invited to display their products made and produced in the U.S.
“I was surprised by how many people knew of us,” said GIANT Snacks general manager Lucy Spiekermeier said. “A lot of people there knew us and said they eat our seeds. That was fun to hear.”
Spiekermeier attended the showcase with Vice President of Marketing Robert Schuler. Other businesses to present included NASA, which displayed a space capsule, and Lockheed Martin, which displayed the F-35 Lightning II jet.
“And I go, ‘And I have sunflower seeds,’” Spiekermeier laughed. “We have Lockheed Martin, we have NASA and we have GIANT.”
Wintergreen Northern Wear of Ely, Minn., represented Minnesota. Other food companies attending included MoonPie of Tennessee and Jack Links of Wisconsin.
“There were a lot of unique companies,” Spiekermeier said. “Hawaii had a ukulele manufacturer.”
Held on the White House’s south lawn and state floor, the showcase included a press conference from President Donald Trump.
“America never waves the white flag,” he said. “We only wave the red, white and blue flag. The era of economic surrender for the United States is over. America is fighting back and we’re winning again.”
The Washington Post, which covered the showcase, contrasted the president’s pride in high manufacturing wages with concerns about the ongoing trade war.
“To ensure this strong growth continues, the administration needs to pursue a sound trade policy that opens up markets and eliminates barriers, as well as make certain provisions of the new tax law permanent,” said Chad Moutray, a chief economist with the National Association of Manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is turning some attention to socioeconomic conditions. On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced it would provide over $22 million in federal grants to six states. The National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker program is being used to help people recovering from opioid addiction return to work.
“(Secretary of Labor R. Alexander) Acosta says a family-sustaining job is a critical step toward long-term recover from opioid misuse,” the Post reported.
Money is being provided to the states of Alaska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington, Rhode Island and Maryland.
During her time in Washington, Spiekermeier not only saw Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but several cabinet members.
“We were at a table and a booth, allowing people to walk around and talk to us,” she said.
Curious guests included Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.; Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration. Many legislative aides attended, although North Dakota’s congressional delegation did not.
“They were all very interested in speaking with us, thanking us for being there and providing jobs in our communities,” Spiekermeier continued.
Spiekermeier is proud that GIANT’s reputation preceded it.
“I talked with the gentleman who chose the businesses in the showcase,” she recalled. “He knew nothing about businesses in North Dakota. But when he asked around, he said, he was told, ‘You’ve got to bring GIANT here.’”