HUNTERSVILLE – Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-District 9) said companies can learn a lot from business strategies employed by Metrolina Greenhouses, the nation’s largest single-site heated greenhouse.

He believes companies could also benefit if lawmakers were to loosen regulations.

“We could have a lot more economic growth if the government, frankly, got out of the way," Pittenger said. "We’ve written so many laws and regulations that have impeded job growth.”

The congressman toured Metrolina Greenhouses on June 2, as well as McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville and GMI Manufacturing in Mooresville.

Pittenger said he visits local companies, ranging from 20 to 1,200 workers, every other week to hear the thoughts and concerns of business leaders and their employees. Doing so helps him better represent his district in Washington.

Pittenger said visiting McGuire Nuclear Station was important to better understand its security measures and role in the region, considering he chairs the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

Metrolina Greenhouses co-owner Abe Van Wingerden was honored to give Pittenger a tour of his company. He said matching safety and regulations are a major part of the greenhouse’s efforts as it continues to expand.

Pittenger said a balance must be struck between regulating area businesses and giving them freedom to expand.

“You have to have enough reasonable, thoughtful business judgment for those people writing the laws,” Pittenger said. “Ideological interests get in the way of logic. If it’s not the most strident green initiative, then it’s not worthwhile.”

Pittenger described Metrolina Greenhouses, started in 1972 by Tom and Vickie Van Vickie Van Wingerden, as a small business that grew into a big one.

“That happens a lot,” he said. “People have an idea, they take a risk, put up their capital and they build something.”

Pittenger, a Texas native who moved to Charlotte in 1985, built a successful real estate company.

“I’d say this for any business person: Keep your overhead low,” Pittenger said. “That’s the downfall of most businesses. If you have an idea, put your time and work ethic out there. Pursue it hard. Do it on as low a budget as you can, so that in the lean times, your overhead doesn’t eat you up.

“There are extraordinary businesses around here (like Metrolina) who have succeeded and made successful lifestyles.”