Local Politics

Obama rallies support for jobs plan in Asheville

Posted February 13, 2013

— President Barack Obama pushed for a higher minimum wage at a re-opened manufacturing plant in Asheville Wednesday because he says Americans who work full-time should not be in poverty.

The president followed up his call for the increase from $7.25 to $9 an hour in Tuesday night's State of the Union address with a trip to reach voters outside Washington on the plan.

In 2011, Canadian-based Linamar Corp. announced that its fourth U.S. manufacturing facility would be at the site of a shuttered Volvo Construction Equipment plant in Asheville that closed in 2010 and laid off 220 workers.

Since then, the company has hired 160 workers and will hire 40 more by the end of the year. It's expected to expand the operation further to 650 jobs and boost the total capital investment from $75 million to $200 million.

"There's a good story to tell here," Obama said, touted it as an example of America attracting jobs from overseas. "A few years ago, a manufacturing comeback in Asheville may not have seemed real likely. Volvo had just left town. This plant had just gone dark, 228 jobs had vanished, and it was a big blow for this area."

The key to reviving America's economy, he said, is to bring more jobs to the United States, give Americans the skills they need to perform them and provide those workers with a decent living.

"There's no magic bullet here, it's just some common sense stuff. People still have to work hard," Obama said, arguing that just a few structural changes could have an outsize impact. He said he needs Congress to help pass his initiatives.

"It's not a Democratic thing or a Republican thing," he said. "Our job as Americans is to restore that basic bargain that says if you work hard, if you meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead."

"If you work full time, you shouldn't be in poverty," Obama said to applause.

Obama takes State of the Union message to Asheville

But House Speaker John Boehner was not warm to the plan.

"When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it," he told reporters Wednesday morning. "At a time when the American people are still asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?' why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?"

Linamar produces heavy-duty engine and driveline components. The average employee makes about $40,000.

The sleeves rolled up on his white dress shirt, Obama stopped to chat with workers at the plant, patting them on the back as he inspected the equipment. He signed some type of large red toolbox and later posed for photos with what appeared to be a few managers from the plant.

His remarks had all the trapping of a campaign-style rally — the barricades, the platforms and professional lights, and patriotic music drowning out the cheers of a few hundred people who gathered inside the factory to hear him speak.

Obama takes jobs plan to Asheville Obama takes jobs plan to Asheville

Obama will make stops in Atlanta on Thursday and Chicago on Friday to continue pushing his second-term agenda outlined in the State of the Union address.

In his bid to boost manufacturing, Obama is launching three "manufacturing innovation institutes" — partnerships among the private sector, the federal government and colleges "to develop and build manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs," according to a White House fact sheet. He is asking Congress to create 15 more institutes.

The proposal is a central element of Obama's plan to spur manufacturing, which has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy.

The Linamar plant provides a perfect backdrop for the president, said Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.

"It's a success story," Teague said, adding that manufacturing in the area has "tremendous momentum behind it."

"We've actually seen growth in the last few years, which is great," he said.

One of the keys to the area's manufacturing success is the partnership between manufacturers and colleges. Officials are working to make sure companies have a highly skilled workforce to fill the new manufacturing jobs, Teague said.

The western part of the state was once home to thriving textile and furniture companies. But over the past 20 years, many of those plants have been closed as companies moved production overseas because of cheaper costs.

The area is beginning to see a turnaround, Teague said.

In the last three years, manufacturers have invested nearly $520 million and created nearly 1,900 good-paying jobs in the Asheville area.

They include Arvato Digital Services, which invested $1.8 million and created nearly 410 jobs, and New Belgium Brewing, which is constructing a $175 million brewery that will create 154 jobs.

263 Comments

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  • Come On_Seriously Feb 14, 2:47 p.m.

    "they'll find a way to waste it on something. And we all know Barrycare is going to be a cluster, but we are boned with it now" CrumpsBr0ther

    Hmmm... I didn't know that "we all know it will be a cluster" was such a precise forecasting method. Regardless, there is just no substitute for the simple elegance of language in the conservative mantras.

  • junkmail5 Feb 14, 2:37 p.m.

    Here's an idea: For every dollar of increased employee compensaton required to be paid by employers, reduce the amount of welfare paid out by a dollar. I mean, now that people can make more money they should be taking advantage and start working, therefore no longer needing welfare.
    fatchanceimwrong

    that doesn't make any sense at all...

    For one thing, there's only ~4.3 million people on welfare total.

    More than half of those are children, who wouldn't be working anyway.

  • junkmail5 Feb 14, 2:12 p.m.

    He should instead be talking with (note I using 'with' not 'to') congress about what he wants to do. - Z Man

    every time he has done that he was just told no.

    So now he's trying a different strategy- where he tries to convince regular people to pressure their congressmen into action on his agenda.

    I don't know that it'll work any better, but it's unlikely to work any worse.

  • fatchanceimwrong Feb 14, 2:01 p.m.

    Here's an idea: For every dollar of increased employee compensaton required to be paid by employers, reduce the amount of welfare paid out by a dollar. I mean, now that people can make more money they should be taking advantage and start working, therefore no longer needing welfare.

  • Z Man Feb 14, 1:35 p.m.

    No he doesn't. It doesn't matter whether he visited or not (on the taxpayers dime none the less). His campaign format speeches do not sway anyone one way or the other. You either support him or (like me) you do not. He should instead be talking with (note I using 'with' not 'to') congress about what he wants to do. It's the congress that obutthead has to impress, not the citizens. And stop hemorrhaging our tax money on campaign-like trips.

  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 14, 1:00 p.m.

    First, most provisions don't start till 2014, second, CBO says it will SAVE money (small amt).
    junkmail5

    they'll find a way to waste it on something. And we all know Barrycare is going to be a cluster, but we are boned with it now

  • junkmail5 Feb 14, 11:10 a.m.

    The overall weakening of the economy really built up steam during the Clinton administration. That's when certain Dem folk pushed the banks to extend mortgage credit on the faith that the market will never implode. That and the NAFTA agreement signed into life that allowed companies to move their operations to other countries. Here's some more insight into that topic: http://tjhancock.wordpress.com/housing-bubble-financial-crisis-detailed-comprehensive-assessment/
    Offshore

    Subprime loans were less than 10% of all loans under Clinton.

    Under bush they were more than 1/3rd of all loans.

    For a bit...broader...perspective on this and the CRA under each president, try this-

    http://prospect.org/article/dont-blame-community-reinvestment-act

  • junkmail5 Feb 14, 10:42 a.m.

    If you did Blame them , I never read from what you Write- bmac813

    then you're not reading much.

    I've mentioned Obama being an awful president in a bunch of threads. This one included.

    It is always we are wrong- bmac813

    Because you are among the group I was talking about. People being upset with Obama for imaginary things that never happened.

    Those people ARE always wrong. At least, they're wrong on the things I correct them on. For example-

    Obama and Bush both had a Democratic Controlled House and Senate Who control 80% of the Spending- bmac813

    Congress controls 100% of the spending. Not a single dime is spent from the US Treasury without congress approving it. That's a basic tenet in the US Constitution, which the always wrong folks seem never to have read.

    BUT Obama and his Health Care- bmac813

    Yet again- Virtually 0 current debt is the "fault" of Obamacare. First, most provisions don't start till 2014, second, CBO says it will SAVE money (small amt).

  • Offshore Feb 14, 10:40 a.m.

    The overall weakening economy
    junkmail5

    The overall weakening of the economy really built up steam during the Clinton administration. That's when certain Dem folk pushed the banks to extend mortgage credit on the faith that the market will never implode. That and the NAFTA agreement signed into life that allowed companies to move their operations to other countries. Here's some more insight into that topic:
    http://tjhancock.wordpress.com/housing-bubble-financial-crisis-detailed-comprehensive-assessment/

  • bmac813 Feb 14, 10:27 a.m.

    If you did Blame them , I never read from what you Write. It is always we are wrong No matter what and your Lib Friends are always right.
    All the things that Obama Promised in 2008 he never came across on, SO What makes you think he is Telling you the Truth Now.
    By the Way we never said Obama alone cause the Debt, Obama and Bush both had a Democratic Controlled House and Senate Who control 80% of the Spending. BUT Obama and his Health Care, and all The Money he gave to his Bankrupt Friends helped, Plus no Hiring and Job Creation. When you create Jobs you Create Tax Money, Call Obama and tell him That. Bush for SIX and OBAMA for TWO, NOW you People want to Controll Both Houses? WOW

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