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Published: Friday, 1/16/2009

Obama pitches recovery and reinvestment plan in Ohio

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio - A day after President Bush bid farewell, President-elect Barack Obama said hello to Ohio, visiting the Cleveland area to talk up his plans for rebuilding the U.S. economy.

Mr. Obama, who will be sworn in Tuesday as the nation's 44th president, told an invitation-only crowd of about 200 at Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Bedford Heights that his proposal - called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan - would save or create three million to four million jobs.

"The need for us to act is now," Mr. Obama said. "It has never been more urgent. We started this year in the midst of a crisis unlike any other we've seen in this lifetime."

In his remarks, Mr. Obama explained that Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company, which is in the business of manufacturing parts used to construct wind turbines, would benefit from his plan. He said that if action isn't taken, half of the wind energy projects planned for 2009 could be abandoned because of the economic downturn and credit crisis.

The President-elect plans to tackle an ambitious plan to revitalize the economy through investment, hoping Congress will join him in passing a stimulus package that could top $800 billion. The proposal seeks to create job by investing in energy, education, infrastructure, technology, and health care.

"The first job of my administration is to put people back to work and get the economy moving again," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama said his plan would "jumpstart job creation and promote growth.

"We are looking to create good jobs that pay well and can't be shipped overseas," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama's comments - and the decision to spend one of his last days before he takes residence in the White House touring a business that's tied to the wind turbine business - reflected his promises to invest in alternative energy sources, like wind power, creating nearly a half million jobs.

He cautioned that the turnaround won't be easy.

"Recovery is not going to happen overnight," he said. "Things could get worse before they get better. If anybody doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them here to Ohio to see what they've done at Cardinal Fastener."

Cardinal Fastener, a 25-year-old business, had revenues of about $10 million in 2008 and is predicting a 50 percent increase in 2009. It employees 65 full-time associates, but is forecasting up to 40 more employees this year to keep up with the growth of the wind industry.

"You are going to see a lot of wind turbines built around this country,"

said John Grabner, the president and founder of Cardinal Castings, touching on the future of the business.

Mr. Grabner explained how his business - which was in the service construction industry and heavy equipment - two years ago he was approached by an out-of-state company about making parts for a wind turbine technology.

"I didn't even know what a wind turbine was two years ago," he said. "That's started us on a ride and I can't even tell you what it has been like."

Mr. Obama arrived in Ohio today after exerting his influence in Washington to convince lawmakers to release the second half of the $700 billion bailout fund. The bailout program, initially approved in the fall, was designed to make money available to banks amid the credit crisis, but it has come under fire for lacking controls.

While promising more safeguards on the second-half of the bailout, the president-elect said the release of the money is central to opening the flow of money.

Mr. Obama was joined by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Lieutenant Gov. Lee Fisher, and leaders in the wind energy industry.

Mr. Obama acknowledged the Gov. Strickland, saying he is "Managing the ship of this state through some very rough waters."

After leaving Ohio today, Mr. Obama was bound for Pennsylvania, where he'll begin his trek to Washington for the inauguration festivities. Tomorrow, he's scheduled to travel by train from Pennsylvania to Wilmington, Del., where he'll pick-up Vice

President-elect Joe Biden and his family. The train is slated to continue on to Baltimore, where the President-elect is scheduled to speak.

Contact Steve Eder at:seder@theblade.comor 419-304-1680.



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