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Obama touts stimulus payoff

Published: Wed, May 19, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.
  Obama at V&M Star

Watch President Barack Obama's entire speech at V&M Star in Youngstown on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

Watch President Barack Obama's entire speech at V&M Star in Youngstown on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

  Reaction To Obama's V&M Star Visit

Local reaction to President Barack Obama's speech at V&M Star in Youngstown, OH May 18, 2010

Local reaction to President Barack Obama's speech at V&M Star in Youngstown, OH May 18, 2010




President Barack Obama didn’t come to V&M Star with money for economic development in the Mahoning Valley or an offer to provide assistance to help the area’s struggling economy.

But Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said Obama is helping the Valley.

Just by coming to the area Tuesday to highlight V&M’s $650 million expansion draws national attention to what’s happening here and what the area has to offer to businesses, Williams said.

“There’s this notion that a city like Youngstown is to be written off; our better days are behind us,” he said. “I refuse to believe that.”

Obama, a Democrat, talked about areas like the Valley with long-standing financial struggles collaborating as a region, and receiving state and financial help to progress.

“He talks of communities like Youngstown moving from surviving to thriving,” said Williams, a Democrat. “For years, we’ve been barely surviving. At some point in the future we’ll be out of survival mode. I do believe this community can indeed thrive.”

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, said Obama’s visit is “a significant start of what we expect from the government and that is to help in desperate times.”

During his speech, Obama discussed the $787 billion federal stimulus package, signed into law in February 2009, saying it had to be passed or the country would have faced the serious possibility of going into a depression.

The nation is seeing positive results from the economic stimulus policies, Obama said.

Without government help, “the GM plant over in Lordstown would not be there because GM would have liquidated.”

Obama’s last visit to the Valley was to the GM complex in September 2009.

Acknowledging skepticism about his visit, Obama said: “A lot of people — let’s be blunt — aren’t always real impressed when a governor or a president comes swooping in and talking about the economy because the only headline they want to see is the headline that says, ‘You’re hired.’”

The president then discussed the $19 million in stimulus money that is going to the V&M expansion, saying “as a result of this investment,” the $650 million project is moving ahead.

Without the stimulus package, “the steady progress we’re beginning to see across America would not exist and neither would the plant that you’re about to build,” Obama said.

The expansion will create 400 construction jobs. When the plant opens, there will be 230 employees working directly for V&M and 120 contract workers at the new facility. V&M makes seamless tubes for the oil and gas industry.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, has been insistent that without the stimulus money, the V&M project would have never happened.

Joel Mastervich, V&M’s president and chief operating officer, said the stimulus money “helped propel the project forward.” But he added that “the project would have proceeded” without the money.

Also, Philippe Crouzet, chairman of the management board of Vallourec, V&M’s Paris-based parent company, said: “You don’t make such a big decision based on just a [government] subsidy.”

But he added the money was a great benefit to the project.

When asked if the company would have approved the local expansion without the stimulus money, Crouzet said, “I’m not sure we would have made our mind up so rapidly” without it.

During Obama’s speech, he criticized those who opposed the stimulus package, but never mentioned anyone by name. Also, he only used the word “Republican” one time in his 20-minute speech.

In response to Obama’s visit, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine said, “The economic recovery we were promised hasn’t happened, and the president’s policies clearly aren’t working. Unfortunately, neither are thousands of Ohioans.”

In his speech to an invitation-only crowd of about 150 people, Obama acknowledged the Valley’s 14.5 percent unemployment rate, and the struggles it faces.

“The Mahoning Valley is a place that doesn’t need an economist to tell you when a recession begins or when a recession ends because plenty of folks here have known their own private recessions for 10, 20, 30 years,” he said.

SEE ALSO:Obama’s speech energizes, inspires workers at V&M and Read the president's complete speech.

Here are some of the main points from President Barack Obama’s Tuesday speech at V&M Star in Youngstown.

Without government assistance, General Motors would have gone out of business. That means the Lordstown GM complex “would not be there,” he said.

The federal stimulus package provided about $19 million to V&M’s $650 million expansion project. The 1-million-square-foot expansion is the “largest industrial plant built in the Valley since GM built its plant over in Lordstown in the 1960s,” Obama said.

The nation gained 290,000 jobs last month, the fourth month in a row with positive job growth nationwide. Almost all of the jobs are in the private sector, Obama said.

Without naming the Republican Party, Obama said, “If the ‘just-say-no’ crowd had won out, if we had done things the way they wanted to go, we’d be in a deeper world of hurt than we are right now.”

Source: White House


1WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 6 years ago

As a Youngstown refugee, I see the President's visit to my hometown as another indication of the region's rebirth. The doubling of employment at the expanded plant will add tax revenue, more consumer dollars, and new hope to the Mahoning Valley. Good work, Tim Ryan! Thanks for the stimulus money, President Obama. I'm sure it helped convince V & M Star to stay in the area.

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2SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 6 years ago

P-Bird & Warren,

If you read the article again you will notice that both V & M Execs said the stimulus money was helpful, but the project would have gone forward, anyway.

Also, the $19MM stimulus was OUR tax dollars coming back to the valley. It's about time we got a return on OUR investment.

Finally, you will note that whenever Obama or Timmy have Photo Ops or townhall meetings in this area, they are BY INVITATION ONLY. Don't they represent the whole area, or just a chosen few? Are they afraid that the voters here will hold their feet to the fire and ask the really tough questions that they don't want to answer?

Get your heads out of your back pockets guys and take a look around. A few hundred jobs are appreciated, but we need 50 times this many to get this area viable again and not just telemarketing jobs!

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3Springman(237 comments)posted 6 years ago

SkyKing310B: Ohioans get back more than a dollar for every dollar of tax paid. Please look it up.

The stimulus is only seed money.

Please take a look at Marcellus shale, which is the reason for the new mill and which has the potential to elevate the entire Valley fiscally.

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4SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 6 years ago

Springman- I stand by my post. Also, we have 2.5 Trillion barrels of oil in this country which need to be developed, but Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Gore and the rest of the Socialist liberals will never let it happen.

We could have tens of thousands of jobs in this country, in drilling, refining, processing, construction, steel and many other industries, not to mention the price of gas could be cut by at least $1.00 per gallon, if we did this. Talk about a stimulus to the economy! And the best part is that it is all on land, so we wouldn't have to worry about and disaster in the Gulf.

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5grapejuice(9 comments)posted 6 years ago

I don't happen to share Mr. Obama's political perspective. However, I find it fascinating that this newspaper devoted much more space to Elton John coming to Youngstown, than to the President of the United States.

If this is a sign of what people here consider important, then it's no wonder this area never gets out of the swamp.

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6drw122(35 comments)posted 6 years ago

Here is what is so pathetic about the Mahoning Valley. The president comes to town and throws a few crumbs out and everyone is "thank you , thank you ". What about what he has done to this valley since he came to office. How many union jobs were lost because of the tarp bailout. He gave billions to the banks while the banks continued to raise interest on credit. How about what he did to the car dealers in the valley? How many lost their jobs because he closed dealerships that had been in the area for generations. Dealerships that were turning a profit. How many lost those dealerships were given to democrat donors. Most people of the Mahoning Valley remind me of the people that were trapped by Katrina. They stayed put because they didn't have the self worth do leave. They had to wait on the government and when that didn't happen fast enough they blamed the government and took no responsibility themselves. Quit relying on the government to help you and quit thanking someone when they offer you crumbs. But hey what should I expect from people that have pulled the democrat lever because the union thugs told them to. They can'y even think for themselves.

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7YSUguins(19 comments)posted 6 years ago

SkyKing is dead on. The V&M project has been in the works for years and did not need any help. And that is per V&M's own people. This was just an opportunity set up by Pelosi and her socialist friends to try and secure Timmy's seat. All they keep talking about is GM adding 1200 jobs and VXI moving to Youngstown. GM is just calling back laid off workers to produce cars as the economy is naturally recovering from it's two year lack of demand. And don't forget about the Cruze rollout. VXI is bringing 10 low paying jobs. That should really do it.

And today we find out that the jails are about to be emptied on to the streets. How come the Vindy keeps pumping up Timmy Pelosi (I am guessing that they will be giving him fgront page credit for last weekends sunshine) but they don't talk about losing 270 jobs at Denman Tire. They could have been saved by spending just $3mm of V&M's $19mm to upgrade machinery so that they could continue to supply our military with tires. Instead, we gave the money to a company that by their own admission didn't need it. And now the military tires come from China. God help us if we ever go to war again.

The only good thing that I see going on is that with Traficant entering the race, it means that Pelosi will continue to send money to the valley through November. She has to do something to save her boy. Maybe Jimbo did us a favor after all! Timmy's take of the $787mm stimulus package is a joke.

Timmy and Jay Williams need to get in the real world. Look around. We need real help. Get rid of Ryan and Wilson and get some people who are more worried about this area than photo opps and getting reelected. For that matter, throw out all 435 and start over. They can't possibly be worse.

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8msweetwood(179 comments)posted 6 years ago

What clear, lucid comparisons, Grape and Hope:

Elton John coverage: One reporter, one reviewer and two photographers. Coverage the following day and a review the next.

Obama coverage: Four reporters, four photographers, editorial page editor, columnist and an online videographer. All-day, up-to-the-minute online coverage (from the airport to V&M to a D.C. summit meeting for communities that rely on the auto industry) and the first member of the local media with online video of the president and dominant print coverage the next day stretching from the Valley back to D.C.

Now, true, the Elton coverage benefited from a three-month build up vs. the president's six days. And Elton was seen by 7,000 people vs. a few hundred.

Otherwise, your comparisons were completely fair.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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9walter_sobchak(2628 comments)posted 6 years ago

Did you bother to ask Little Timmy Ryan for his comments to the statements by Joel Mastervich and Philippe Crouzet about what the gov't assistance means to the project? Little Timmy wants his constituents to believe that HE was the linchpin to the deal! The stimulus money is at most 3% of the contract amount and is used for a rail line, which the feds have the authority over. To be sure, it is a help to the company but so was the Youngstown/Girard deal to get the plant inside of one tax boundary. But, I, for one, was very pleased to find out that the President got to use an up-scale latrine! (The Vindy neglected to inform us of the facilities thatwere used by Elton John). You would think that with four photographers and an on-line videographer that we could have got some pictures of the BHO coming out of it. And, maybe a follow-up question to see if he washed his hands.


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10grapejuice(9 comments)posted 6 years ago

Mark, check your own newspaper archives! Here's what I found with just a quick review:3/8:Elton John books show in Youngstown arena; 3/9/10: Good Morning; 3/10/10:Better to get Elton John Songs on line.....;3/12/10:Elton John fans sell out Covelli; 3/14/10: Putting the Covelli on the map; 4/15/10: Elton John tickets to be raffled; 4/20/10: Auction to include Elton John tickets; 4/20/10: Millionth fan expected at Covelli Center tonight (prize included tickets to Elton John concert); 4/25/10: Hope Foundation to auction tickets to Elton John concert; 4/28/10 Elton John fans can bid on tickets....;4/29/10: Elton John: Long Time coming; 4/30/10: How Covelli landed the Rocket Man; 4/30/10: Elton John: Ryan White inspired me; 5/1/10: Covelli Center comes through for Elton's biggest fans; 5/3/10: Elton Johns downtown businesses; 5/3/10: Sir Elton makes memories for a packed downtown house; 5/3/10: At Covelli concert Elton John delivers it like it was first time; 5/4/10: Elton John concert provided a test and an opportunity; 5/9/10: A night with Elton was magical. Jeesh....you would have thought it was the President of the United States coming, and not just some rock star................

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11grapejuice(9 comments)posted 6 years ago

true enough, dimebag; true enough......

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12msweetwood(179 comments)posted 6 years ago

Grape: Now go back and check my comment:

"Now, true, the Elton coverage benefited from a three-month build up vs. the president's six days."

I don't think you can blame The Vindicator or any other media for the entirety of a news cycle. That wasn't the point. My point was about the event coverage. And in that case, your comparison is and was flawed.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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13grapejuice(9 comments)posted 6 years ago

Mark, go back and check MY comment. I refer to the amount of SPACE devoted to the two events. The amount of space given over to an event, regardless of the amount of time covered, is a surer indication of how significant the event is considered by those covering it. The Elton John concert was a one night stand by a rock star. A very big rock star, to be sure, but in the great scheme of things, nowhere as important as the president. Yet, we were subjected to almost three months of puffery leading up to that concert. And the paper couldn't even use the excuse that they were trying to help promote the concert; it was sold out in the first day, and hardly needed promoting. The amount of time available before the concert, is no excuse; most of the articles I listed earlier have little or no news value. But the paper printed them, apparantly thinking that this was important to people. And MY point to you is that it's this screwy set of priorities that's holding this area back.

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14Springman(237 comments)posted 6 years ago

Mr. Sweetwood:

Please look into the Marcellus shale story. Why is the Valley not maximizing its assets?

SkyKing310B: I still say. Ohioans get back more than a dollar for every dollar of tax paid.

As for oil, how much feasible oil is in this Valley? Ans. None.

How much natural gas? Ans. Probaly enough to pay everyone's tax for the next hundred years.
Where are you on the map?

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15SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 6 years ago


Ohio, as a whole, may get back more $'s, but this area is sadly lacking and for the past 8 years has been sucking hind teat.

We need leadership here who knows how to attract good jobs, and use "stimulus monies" judiciously.

As pointed out by YSUguins, $3mm of the $19mm could have saved 270 additional good paying jobs, which are now lost forever.

I'm not putting down your shale project and yes we have a high concentration of natural gas here in Ohio that should and is being developed. Why stop with just that? If we can develop the huge deposits of oil out west, how many more jobs could be created here. Maybe V&M might have to further expand and next create 4,000 jobs instead of 400.

That's what this area really needs and the Bamster, Timmy boy, "Lionel" Bob Hagan and Charlie Wilson, just ain't cuttin' the mustard!

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16walter_sobchak(2628 comments)posted 6 years ago

Mr. Sweetwood,
If the Vindy had four reporters, four photographers, editorial page editor, columnist, and an on-line videographer in attendance, why didn't someone, anyone, ask for a comment from one of the jack-ass elected "leaders" regarding V&M leaders comments about the massive 3% federal assistance having little, if any, bearing on the project. Next time, bring the janitor. Maybe he can think for you! Plus, he could get a look at the much-reported mobile latrine suite provided for the presidential dump!

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17msweetwood(179 comments)posted 6 years ago


It's interesting that you would use our own reporting against us while making the claim that we were somehow lacking: After all, we were the ones who reported V&M Star's stance that “the project would have proceeded” anyway and juxtaposed that to Ryan's stance.

It's not like you would have known that without our reporting... The V&M folks are relatively guarded about talking with the media, let alone guys who spend their days writing nonsense on media websites.

In any case, if you want to now why the editorial page editor was there, check out today's editorial.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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18msweetwood(179 comments)posted 6 years ago


We have been working hard on a Marcellus shale package coming soon to a Sunday near you...


Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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19walter_sobchak(2628 comments)posted 6 years ago

I'm not going to let you get away with that. My point is the worthless politicians that think they can start fires and only they can put them out. I'm tired of Little Timmy Ryan's antics. Ask this question:

"Congressman Ryan,
You insist on telling your constituents that without the stimulus funds, the V&M project would never have happened. Given the comments by Mr. Mastervich and Mr Crouzet that this project would have proceeded without the stimulus money, do you still want to make that assertion?"

There you have it. A good follow-up question that needs to be asked. I'm sure that Timmy would try to provide some BS answer. Quit letting politicians make remarks thta go unchallenged! Here would have been a great question also.

"Congressman Ryan,
Since President Obama still has much of his stimulus dollars uncommitted, did you ask the president for some assistance for Denman Tire, so that a couple of hundred people could continue to work and try to make a go of it?"

I'm sure if the workers were members of the UAW or SEIU, the president may have provided some funds.

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