December 21, 2014

Elyria
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President’s focus today will be on jobs; he’s expected to meet with LCCC job training students

ELYRIA — Before he gives his speech on the economy at Lorain County Community College today, President Barack Obama will meet with unemployed workers who are now students in the school’s job training programs.

President Barack Obama takes a drink of water while he addresses a crowd at Lorain County Community College on Jan. 22, 2010. Obama makes a return visit to Elyria and to the college today.

The speech will “highlight the president’s job training initiatives to help get more Americans back to work, and connect unemployed Americans with the skills training needed to find jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries,” a White House official said Tuesday.

The official said that the audience will include current students and graduates of LCCC’s worker training programs. Several local officials and union leaders have said they have been invited to attend the speech as well.

Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda said she confirmed Tuesday evening that Obama also plans to meet briefly with her and other officials to discuss local issues.

Today’s visit is the second time Obama has come to the college in the past two years. When he visited on Jan. 22, 2010, he also toured local manufacturing companies before delivering a speech a speech at the college.

Unlike his last trip to Elyria, today’s speech will be closed to the public.

Brinda and labor leader Joe Thayer both said they’ve been told that around 125 people have been given tickets for the president’s 2:30 p.m. speech at LCCC’s College Center, although the exact number of people who will be in attendance remains unknown.

Brinda said she was briefed Tuesday on some of the issues Obama plans to cover in his speech, including revising the tax code for small manufacturing companies, clean energy, the so-called “Buffett rule” that would see tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and economic security for women.

“There’s a level of anticipation and excitement in the city,” Brinda said. “Some of the things that President Obama is going to be speaking about are personified in Elyria.”

Not everyone is looking forward to what the president has to say.

The campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, widely expected to be the Republican presidential nominee, plans to have Romney’s campaign bus on hand near the college to serve as a rallying point for Republicans and those who question Obama’s economic policies. Romney himself will not be in attendance.

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Maloney said the bus will serve as a mobile phone bank where Romney supporters can make calls across the crucial battleground state to drum up support for the Republican frontrunner. The bus will be parked near the Dunkin’ Donuts at 994 Abbe Road.

“We’re not only here for the style, we’re also here for the substance,” Maloney said.

Local tea party members also plan to meet at the Dunkin’ Donuts about 11 a.m. to demonstrate against the president.
Jim Woods, leader of the Medina County Friends and Neighbors group, said his organization has broken out some of the same signs they used when they protested against Obama’s visit two years ago.

“The problem is spending money we don’t have, and the solution of the Obama administration is spending money we don’t have,” Woods said.

But Thayer said Obama has done a good job of tackling the nation’s economic woes.

“Nobody should be expected to fix it overnight,” he said.

Although the president isn’t due to arrive until the afternoon, Woods said his group is meeting early to avoid the problem of road closures.

When Obama visited in 2010, parts of Abbe Road, state Route 57 and numerous other city streets were shut down.

Brinda said although she recognizes that the road closures will be inconvenient to residents, the city can’t release the times or locations of roads that will be affected because of security concerns.

“I do believe it’s a necessary precaution,” she said. “We do want to secure our city to protect our president.”

The issue of closed roads was part of what prompted Elyria Schools to close down the district for the day.

And although the college plans to hold morning and evening classes, it has canceled afternoon classes today. Day classes at the Nord Advanced Technologies Center have been canceled until 4 p.m. as well.

LCCC had planned to maintain classes for the Early College High School Experience, but because of transportation issues has canceled all freshman and sophomore classes. Junior and senior classes that begin before noon will he held.

For more information on how the president’s visit will impact classes at the school, visit www.lorainccc.edu.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.