PRESIDENT OBAMA TALKS WITH WORKERS DURING LINAMAR VISIT
(From The Asheville Citizen-Times)
For Valerie Blackburn, President Barack Obama’s Wednesday visit to an auto parts plant couldn’t have come at a better time for her family.
After years of struggling financially, her husband, Doug Blackburn, 48, was hired by Linamar Corp. in November.
“This job has been a blessing,’ said Valerie, 48, of Dana.
Her husband nodded. “This was like a saving grace,” he said softly.
One day after his State of the Union address, the president toured the Linamar factory before speaking to workers like Blackburn who lined the factory floor.
The Linamar plant has become a symbol of local economic resurgence. The Canadian-based supplier of engine, transmission and driveline components for cars and trucks moved into a shuttered Asheville-area factory two years ago, pledging to hire hundreds of workers.
Strengthening the economy and creating jobs were a key concern for Obama in his first State of the Union address since his re-election. Although the U.S. economy is much healthier than it was four years ago, growth remains agonizingly slow and unemployment high.
Obama told Linamar workers that there are still too many Americans looking for work. But he called Linamar a success story.
He said local and state officials reached out to attract the company.
“While they could have gone anyplace in the world, they saw this incredible potential in Asheville. They chose to invest in Asheville, in North Carolina, in the United States of America,” Obama said.
“Today Linamar has hired 160 workers, 200 by the end of the year and it’s just going to keep on going after that. They came to Asheville to grow their business. The good news is what’s happening here is happening all over the country,” he said.
The Linamar plant provided the perfect backdrop for the president, said Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.
He said 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.