U.S. labor secretary says "economic rebound" is underway during North Texas visit

The U.S. labor secretary came to Dallas Tuesday with details about hundreds of thousands of dollars going toward North Texas businesses.

Eugene Scalia visited a local leather company that's been making PPE since the COVID-19 pandemic began. He discussed how workplace safety will help keep the economy going.

The U.S. labor secretary says an ‘economic rebound’ is underway. More and more jobs are being added every day. But he says in order for that to continue, businesses need to be able to reopen. He's confident that it can be done safely.

At the American Leather Warehouse in Dallas, employees are back to making furniture. When the pandemic hit Texas, the company pivoted to making face masks and PPE for thousands of front-line workers.

“Candidly, the safety was the first and foremost thing, and then the business was second,” said American Leather CEO Bruce Birnbach.

Scalia toured the facility and held a roundtable discussion with members of the Dallas Regional Chamber.

“I've never seen a business community more focused on workplace safety then it is right now, and that's a good thing,” he said.

Scalia said in order for the economy to remain open and thrive during the COVID-19 crisis, everyone must do their part.

“We do have to continue exercise precautions with things like social distancing and masks,” he said. “Extended lockdown long term is against our health interest, too.”

At American Leather, all employees have their temperature checked before entering the building. Everyone wears a mask.

“If someone is sick and that has happened, their area gets cleaned. People around them notified,” Birnbach said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce invested $400,000 in CARES Act funding to boost economic development programs in North Texas.

“Reopening, getting back to business, health and safety are all part of the piece right now,” Scalia said. “It's our health and our future.”

That's encouraging news to small business owner Ken Valencia. He and his partner recently re-opened their three shops in Bishop Arts.

“I think with the numbers rising and hospitalizations rising face masks, the science behind it, we support it,” he said. “The customers appreciate it. We can all come together and make it work.”

Sec. Scalia says Texas added 1 in every 10 jobs in the month of May. He expects even better stats by the end of the month.