both the business, the philanthropic and the non-profit communities. I think it was wonderful and I think that we should do this more.”
William “Sonny” Walker, of the Sonny Walker Group, also gave the meeting a good review.
“I think the fact that they came to the local level, they made us feel some ownership of what’s going on,” he said. “We don’t just wonder what are they doing and why are they doing it. We get a chance to ask questions. I think it was a great move for them to come to Atlanta. He made some allies today by doing what he did and Andy helping him get us there.”
Young agreed that the roundtable included a diverse mix and said that Strautmanis shared a great deal about how the president cares. “They are coming and making the rounds and…it wasn’t a mostly democratic group. We had a lot of Republicans there. He heard a lot,” said Young.
In addition to gathering participant concerns and viewpoints, Young asserted that Strautmanis also was enlightened about the realm of the support President Obama would realistically receive. “Trying to get them to see that they’re not going to get anything from these Republicans, but that America is still the best investment in the world and if they can find good investments in Ohio, in Missouri, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia,” said Young.
Joyce Dorsey, president and CEO of the Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority, attended the meeting to represent the low-income citizens. “What concerns me is that there is an elimination of programs that deal with the poor. So, I am a strong advocate for that group that people seem to be reticent about supporting,” said Dorsey. “These are the ones who seem to be draining society, but they are not. It’s those who are like you and I who have lost our jobs, lost our homes, and we can’t pay taxes like we used to.”
Since President Obama laid out his plan for the American Jobs Act and the “We Can’t Wait” campaign was launched, the Administration has worked to get the information to the public, including a comprehensive breakdown on its website. The overarching components of the American Jobs Act include tax cuts for small businesses, infrastructure improvements, unemployment insurance extensions and back-to-work programs, tax relief for workers and families, and a deficit reduction plan to ensure the bill is paid in full.
“It is really the jobs that will be created in the infrastructure sector that will have an immediate impact on those who’ve been hardest hit by this economic downturn in Atlanta and in the region,” Strautmanis said.
“There are construction workers and others that were real hard hit by this recession, and we need to put them to work, and we need to put them to work now,” he said. “There are infrastructure projects all over this region that could improve the quality of life for citizens, create jobs immediately and increase economic activity so this region can continue to be one of the engines of economic growth for our country.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement about the American Jobs Act that “efforts such as ‘Project Rebuild’ contribute greatly to putting Americans back to work and strengthening our economy.”
The White House formed the White House Business Council in 2009 at the beginning of the Obama Administration to engage the business community. Ari Matusiak, executive director of the White House Business Council, stated that “the information they receive from the conversations feeds directly back into the policy-making process at the White House.”
The WHBC has held at least 500 events combined throughout all 50 states. “Several ideas within the American Jobs Act were echoed by people we talked to around the county,” said Matusiak. “We take that very seriously. We want to make sure what we’re hearing is actually going somewhere and that we’re actually doing something with it.”
Young said he believes that Atlanta will get its share of resources from the American Jobs Act and other Obama Administration programs, as the city is diligent in staying abreast of White House initiatives.