BRIDGEPORT, WV (WBOY) — The Harrison County Chamber of Commerce held its 103rd annual dinner at the Pierpont Community & Technical College in Bridgeport on Monday.

The Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center was selected as the focal point for the annual dinner.

“So this is one of the hidden gems, we feel, in Harrison County that has continued to grow over the years, so we wanted to make this our focal show point for this year’s annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner,” said Harrison County Board of Directors Chamber Chairman Michael Malfregeot.

The event featured U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III (D, W.Va.) as the special guest speaker.

“It’s great to be back home and see all the great things that are happening in North Central West Virginia, and Clarksburg is just a dynamic area, and Harrison County all the leaders here are doing so much trying to bring people together,” Manchin said. “To see all the exciting things happening at the airport, new terminal it’s going to be tremendous, it’s going to be a gateway airport for us, and also then when you see Pierpont and what they are going to do an expansion as far as providing more students opportunities to have a profession in the aviation industry.”

Manchin talked about the Inflation Reduction Act, which just passed, and what it means for the State of West Virginia.

“It’s going to bring so many jobs and opportunities, it’s an all-in energy policy, energy security using all the fossil that we have, investing in all the new technology for the future, that’s going to be happening right here,” Manchin said.

Manchin said a major concern for him is that the local workforce won’t be able to meet the demands for products that will be offered and that there will not be enough workers.

“That’s awful when you have good jobs, but you don’t have enough people that basically are prepared to go in these jobs, it makes it difficult and that’s what we are working on now because the opportunities will be here.”

Manchin said his team was able to draft the Inflation Reduction Act to make sure America has energy security for the next 10 years.

“If you don’t have energy independence you will not be the superpower of the world, and we have an all-in policy right now that we are using everything we can, if you want your gas prices to go down at the pump produce more energy, produce more oil and more refinery, if you want your home gas bills to go down, produce more energy, put more gas in the market,” Manchin said.

Lastly, Manchin said the bill means the highest income earners in this country will start paying their fair share of taxes. He said the IRS has been 40,000 employees short since 1990 and it can’t do its job going after big corporations if it is short-staffed.

“We have 50 of the largest corporations in America that pays zero, the Nike’s of the world, the FEDEX’s of the world they pay nothing and we set a 15% minimum,” Manchin said. “West Virginians pay our taxes, shouldn’t they pay theirs?”

The event held a capacity crowd with 350 people inside the booming Aviation Maintenance Facility’s Hanger. The evening concluded with partners being recognized and awards being handed out.