President Barack Obama will speak in Youngstown today, seeking to highlight successes from his $787 billion stimulus bill, according to the Plain Dealer.
The president will make a private appearance at the VM Star steel plant, which is set to undergo a $650 million expansion. The stimulus bill helped pay for improvements that will pave the way for 350 new jobs.
The big joke in Youngstown is that the city is a popular place for presidential candidates to visit once every four years, so it’s meaningful that the president is visiting. The $650 expansion is such a coup for Youngstown that it deserves national attention. It will be the first steel making facility constructed in Youngstown since the ’70s.
Obama also spoke in Buffalo last week.
Have you ever noticed, Obama likes to give his legislation long, convoluted names?
At the same time, this is an important one.
It might be more appropriately called Aid to Industrial Cities. (But obviously that might be politically sensitive. How does the old double-standard go again: farm aid = good, city aid = bad?) This piece of long-overdue legislation would establish competitive grants for revitalizing older industrial cities through the department of Housing and Urban Development. The Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act would mostly help eliminate vacant housing, the profusion of which has been an intractable problem in neighborhoods and a drain on strained city budgets across the Industrial Midwest.
In a new blog, Youngstown’s Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative has more information. The group is trying to lobby the national government to take a more active role in helping Rust Belt cities through the painful process of economic restructuring.
It’s good to see the national government finally starting to recognize that while Rust Belt cities’ problems may be regional in nature, they are truly national in scope.
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Obama administration has earmarked $400 million for Ohio’s plan to link Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland via high-speed rail.
From The Dispatch:
Ohio officials are banking on federal stimulus money for most or all of the estimated $517.6 million they say they need to improve existing freight rail to passenger standards and to buy trains.
“This is some of the best news we have had in a long time,” Senator Sherrod Brown said. “If I put my ear down to the rail I think I hear a train coming.”
This is good news for people who are from Columbus but live in Cleveland (like me!) and their families. Hooray!
President Obama will speak just outside Youngstown today at GM’s Lordstown plant, kicking off the a presidential tour of the Midwest on jobs and the economy, according to The Detroit News.
The plant has been through a series of ups and downs in the past year.
From The Detroit News: Thirteen months ago, then-CEO Rick Wagoner and dignitaries attended a splashy event in the plant to announce a third shift and $350 million investment in the plant to build the new Chevrolet Cruze sedan, which is expected to launch next year and get 40 miles per gallon.
A month later, the auto industry and financial markets collapsed. By January, Lordstown had lost two shifts, and about 2,800 workers were laid off.
GM said last month that a second shift is being called back to work at Lordstown because of increased demand for the Chevrolet Cobalt, which was a big seller during the $3 billion “cash for clunkers” program, and to prepare for production of a new more fuel efficient compact model next year. The workers being recalled include 1,000 hourly workers and 50 salaried.
General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson is also expected for the speech.