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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Obama Heads To Charlotte Where Unemployment Rate Is 12%

Pres. Obama Moves On To Jobs, And To Charlotte

Pivoting quickly from health care to jobs, President Barack Obama on Friday will visit the Charlotte region as the area continues to reel from the highest unemployment rate in at least 20 years.

White House officials have not yet settled on where Obama will speak, or in what format. But his administration has been emphasizing job creation, small businesses and a "green economy" that focuses on the production of clean energy.

Obama will arrive in the Charlotte region - where the jobless rate remains above 12 percent - on the same day new national employment numbers are released that could indicate which way the nation's business climate is turning.

Local leaders say the president's visit will highlight Charlotte's successes just as Mayor Anthony Foxx is trying to promote the Queen City as a national example of how a midsized city can thrive in a new economy.

"Many of the messages that we conveyed about the symmetry between the administration's focus on strengthening and diversifying our national economy are very much in sync with what we want to accomplish in Charlotte," Foxx, a Democrat, said in an interview Friday.

Foxx and retired Bank of America chief Hugh McColl Jr. led an entourage of business leaders to Washington two weeks ago. They met with top administration officials about Charlotte's needs and the goals for some of its major industries: health care, energy and financial services.

"There's a direct correlation between the work we're doing here on job creation and the visit we took to Washington," Foxx said. "It's an extension of the work the White House is doing, and we're trying to help the White House do, here in Charlotte: to promote job growth."

McColl called Obama's visit "a positive thing."

"I'm very optimistic about the fact that he's coming to Charlotte," he said. "I don't think it's just show and tell. I think it's got to be something positive."

Jobless rate higher here

Foxx said the economic recovery should blend the needs of both Wall Street and Main Street.

The region's unemployment rate hit 12.8 percent in January. Nearly 62,000 area residents have lost work since the recession began. But Charlotte has seen recent successes, with the Siemens Energy announcement this month of 825 new jobs and other jobs announcements from Electrolux and Husqvarna.

Duke Energy Carolinas President Brett Carter, who went on the Washington trip, said the company is forging ahead with investments in solar energy and wants to do more with nuclear power.

"We as an energy company need small businesses to create those jobs," Carter said Friday. "We don't build everything ourselves; we rely on small and medium-sized businesses to help in creation of jobs. ... If they don't have access to funds, then we cannot buy the solar power from them."

Foxx said he wants the White House to look to Charlotte for future investments in major energy projects, pointing out that the city already has a light-rail line and a major firm developing solar power and other green energy.

"We can do it faster than other cities," Foxx said. "We've already got assets in place."

In the energy sector, Obama last month announced a loan guarantee to build the first new U.S. nuclear reactors in 30 years, at a plant in Georgia.

Small business needs help

U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a Biscoe Democrat, said Friday that he intends to attend the Obama event, even though he recently voted against the health care overhaul Obama has pushed for during the past year.

"The bill's passed," Kissell said. "I don't look backwards; I look forwards."

Kissell met with Charlotte's entourage in Washington and said the government should focus on small businesses.

"We're trying to find those opportunities for growing the small business jobs and expanding the businesses that are there," he said. "That's our biggest opportunity, and always has been, even in the more metropolitan areas."

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, said he hopes to see more positive employment numbers next week. Already, he said, some businesses are starting to hire temporary workers - a precursor to a stronger recovery.

"The cycle has started, but I don't think anybody believes it still won't take a long time to turn around," Watt said.

Obama recently signed a modest jobs bill that provides tax credits to companies that hire long-term unemployed workers.

GOP: Expect protests

Obama last visited Charlotte the day before he was elected president in 2008. He has been to North Carolina since then, a signal that he intends to keep up with the state that went from red to blue for him and helped push him into the presidency.

But Republicans said Obama may hear from some critics.

"It would not surprise me at all if there were protests with him coming, especially on the heels of the health care bill being passed," said Mecklenburg GOP Chairman Rob Bryan.

When Obama spoke at the University of Iowa on Thursday, about a dozen protesters greeted him. One waved a hand-lettered sign reading "Dictator Obama" on one side and "Can we impeach him yet?" on the other.

Charlotte Republican Hal Jordan, seeking to unseat Kissell in the 8th Congressional District, said he wants the president to hear from people who disagree with him.

"I actually think it's great he's coming to Charlotte, and I hope he listens to what the people of Charlotte have to say," Jordan said. "If he listens to more than a handful, he'll hear that most people are not in favor of a government takeover of our health care system."

Can Obama Win Back Former Ardent Supporters?

(Letter to President Barack Obama from a former strong supporter)

Dear President Obama:

Congratulations on the recent passage of your Health Care Reform bill.

I'm a Voter, Blogger and a former ardent supporter you lost during the Health Care Reform debate.

Before I proceed its imperative you know I do not agree with all of the provisions listed in the HC Reform bill (now law).

However since Health Care reform was so desperately needed in our country, at least your law could be considered the framework for a future system that will work well for all legal citizens.

Mr. President in your quest for Bi-Partisanship support, it appears you procrastinated too long during the Health Care Reform bill drafting process.

This procrastination hindered your administration from focusing on Jobs and Education.

Why did you allow this to occur?

When it was evident Republicans were NOT going to support HC Reform, why didn't your administration and other Dems just pass the bill anyway?
After all didn't Democrats have the majority?

Why did you wait until Scott Brown won to finally take charge?

While I do agree that having Bi-Partisan support on major legislation is of vital importance, both parties must fully cooperate and/or compromise to achieve Bi-Partisan success.

Because you allowed the GOP to kill your Health Care message, even I became Angry and began attacking your administration's weakness, or what appeared to be weakness on my Blog.

Today I wish to offer my deepest apologies but I hope while your still in office you never, ever allow such complacency on important issues to occur again.

You are our President! We believed in you! We voted for you!

Effective Leaders don't second guess themselves, over analyze situations, procrastinate, they're NOT afraid to take risks and they aren't satisfied with being in second place.

Real Health Care Reform, Education Reform, Financial Reform are the CHANGEs we voted for and are still seeking.

Again I apologize but how can you win back millions of American Voters and former supporters like myself?

How can you help make us believe in the substance of your administration's agenda and efforts again?

I live in North Carolina where Public Schools are being Re-Segregated across the board. (Wake County & Charlotte-Mecklenburg, etc.,)

NC BCBS increased their rates but decreased Patient Care & Quality of Care for their members.

(NC Blue Cross, Blue Shield (North Carolina's Health Care Insurance monopoly) increased their rates again prior to the passing of your health care reform bill.)

Will your administration just sit back and allow these injustices to continue or will you as our nation's Leader take charge?

I represent average Americans and we need help!

Please no more procrastination or political games. Please.

As a current resident of Charlotte, North Carolina I've seen enough Corrupt, Slack Leadership to last a lifetime. Now I'm ready for CHANGE.

God Bless



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Sources: WCNC, McClatchy Newspapers, WRAL,, Flickr, Google Maps

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