John Eldred, President, Midwest Tape speaks during a press conference titled 'We Did Build This' at Midwest Tape in Holland on July 25, 2012.
Citing vision and hard work by themselves or other family members, several small-business owners joined the Republican effort Wednesday to condemn President Obama's campaign remarks that they say suggest entrepreneurs didn't build their own businesses.
The anti-Obama, push-back event in Holland was sponsored by the Mitt Romney campaign and was one of 24 "We Did Build This" events staged by the Romney campaign in election swing states.
"To say I didn't build this, I take as a personal insult," said John Eldred, president of Midwest Tape, a wholesaler of DVDs and CDs based in Springfield Township.
Democrats argued the Obama Administration has provided tax credits and loans to help small businesses prosper and has backed legislation to "level the playing field between Wall Street and Main Street."
Mr. Eldred said he went "from bank to bank to bank" to get a $25,000 loan and cashed in a 401K to start the precursor business renting videos in 1983. He said he worked every day but Christmas and now has 360 employees.
"I built this. They built this. Obama didn't build it. I don't think the man has any idea what it is to run a business," Mr. Eldred said.
Mr. Eldred acknowledged he does almost all his business with public libraries, but said they are not "a government agency." In Ohio, libraries are funded by state funds and locally voted tax levies.
Also speaking were Anna Mills, president of the Toledo Real Estate Investors Association; Mike McAlear, chief executive officer of the Service Spring Corp. in Millbury and Monclova Township; Richard Hylant, executive vice president of Hylant Group insurance company, Toledo; Ed Nagle, president and chief executive officer of the Nagle Cos. trucking business, and Michael Birmingham, president of Birmingham Limousine Service.
Business owners claimed they and the economy would be better off with less government involvement, not more. They said the economy has not rebounded under President Obama.
"I'm the one that took the risk. I'm the one that works 16 to 20 hours still today, even though I'm retirement age," Ms. Mills said. "Without all these regulations, without all these taxes, small businesses -- I -- could hire more."
President Obama said during a campaign speech in Virginia on July 13 that business owners owe other people for their success.
"Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges," Mr. Obama said. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
The Romney campaign has seized on the President's words as evidence he favors big government over capitalism, while Democrats claim his comments have been taken out of context.
The Obama campaign responded to the Republicans by citing examples of administration efforts on behalf of small business, including providing loans to 60,000 small businesses and providing tax credits for up to half the cost of health insurance starting in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.
"He allowed businesses to immediately write off 100 percent of the costs of new investment in equipment in the U.S. in 2011, and worked to level the playing field between small businesses and large corporations by ensuring that everyone plays by the same rules," the Obama campaign said.
Democrats also pointed out that the Great Recession began under Republican President George W. Bush, and that the economy lost 800,000 jobs in January, 2009, the month Mr. Obama took office.
The Ohio Obama campaign offered comments from Democratic business owners in support of the President.
Will Lucas, CEO of Creadio, a Toledo-based Internet streaming service, said the President knows that "America prospers when we're all in it together, when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.