Growing Jobs in Small Towns and Small Business

TOM HUDSON: President Obama wrapped up his tour of the Midwest today, announcing he will unveil a new jobs program after Labor Day. But he also said that Washington cannot solve everything.

We continue our series, “How to Fix the Economy,” Diane Eastabrook tonight talked to small businesses in Belvidere, Illinois, about the best way to create jobs on Main Street USA.

GARY SIMON, OWNER, THE BRICK: OK, these are ready to go out.

EASTABROOK: Gary Simon is barely able to keep up with the lunch crowd at his restaurant, The Brick, in Belvidere, Illinois. Still, Simon thinks business could be a whole lot better.

SIMON: There`s a lot of homeless people in Belvidere. There`s a lot of people that are on food stamps and stuff, and we don`t get those people in here anymore. We used to.

EASTABROOK: In Belvidere, a scrappy factory town in northern Illinois, jobs, or the lack of them, are a huge issue. Unemployment here is nearly 13.5 percent. At city hall, word that the president plans to propose a new jobs program got a muted response from Mayor Fred Brereton.

MAYOR FRED BRERETON, BELVIDERE, ILLINOIS: Sure, that sounds good. I tend to fall on the side that government can`t be creating those jobs. They need to create the environment that other jobs can be created by the private sector.

EASTABROOK: The problems plaguing Belvidere really aren`t dissimilar from the ones plaguing every other community across the country, and many of the businesses here say the best thing that Washington could do for them is really do nothing at all.

That may seem odd coming from a town that`s Chrysler plant got saved a couple of years ago in a government bailout, but not to the owner of the world`s second-oldest Ford dealership.

Kevin Keesee thinks if Washington wants to create jobs, it should lower taxes and let businesses decide what jobs should be created.

KEVIN KEESEE, MANAGING PARTNER, MANLEY`S FORD: Technology changes everything on a daily basis, so we don`t know what jobs we may need two days from now, three days, 10 years from now. For the government to think that they have the ability to create a program knowing what jobs people need, I find detrimental.

EASTABROOK: Terry Orcholski, president and CEO of Orbital Tool Technologies, goes a step further. His company makes components and provides service to power generators. He thinks the government needs to either stop piling emission regulations onto utilities or allow them to raise rates.

TERRY ORCHOLSKI, PRES. & CEO, ORBITAL TOOL TECHNOLOGIES: It`s hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs that make the utilities work. Now if you want to shut these power plants down, what are you doing, ultimately? You`re shutting down hundreds of thousands of jobs.

TOM SNYDER, OWNER, THE SWEETERY COMPANY: We have Boston baked beans.

EASTABROOK: Tom Snyder, owner of The Sweetery Company, has an entirely different take. He thinks if Washington really wants to create jobs, it should prod banks into lending more to small businesses.

SNYDER: They just don`t want to lend money out anymore unless they have a guarantee that they`re going to get it back.

EASTABROOK: Many of the businesses along Belvidere`s State Street are confident the U.S. economy will improve in time if only Washington would get out of the way.

Diane Eastabrook, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Belvidere, Illinois.

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