CLEVELAND – President Barack Obama took his vision for America’s economic recovery to Cleveland on Tuesday, with a battery of Cabinet members and advisers in tow for what he billed as a “listening” event with small-business leaders.
But the small-business forum provided Obama with the chance to promote his economic views to a high-value audience that could help decide his re-election.
Government should invest in education and research, Obama said, with the intent of helping American small business expand into globally competitive industries.
“When it comes to our economy, it’s the small businesses that pack the biggest punch,” Obama told a crowd of more than 100 entrepreneurs gathered at Cleveland State University. “Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 new jobs. … So we’re here to gain your counsel – to talk about how America can help you succeed.”
The White House was clearly intent on building relationships with entrepreneurs. In addition to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Obama brought four other Cabinet members and several senior advisers and appointees in his entourage.
They stayed for three hours, each sitting in on a working session with a simple agenda: Business leaders pointed out problems, and they wrote them down.
In the coming months, the White House plans to do eight more such road shows, which aides say will focus on a diverse array of audiences and regions.