Allentown, Pa., Feb. 9, 2010 –The day after holding a Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, President Barack Obama embarked on a White House to Main Street Tour to learn what residents of Allentown, Pa., are experiencing. Dick Bus, president of ATAS International, Inc., was selected as a small-business representative to have lunch with President Obama during the tour, which took place on Dec. 4, 2009.
“The entire day was thrilling for Allentown and people within Lehigh Valley, but to be chosen as one of five people to have lunch with the President is an honor that I will never forget,” Bus said.
The President began his day flying into Lehigh Valley International Airport and heading to the Allentown Metal Works Inc. facility. After the facility tour, the President spoke to a group of guests at Lehigh Carbon Community College about many topics, but the main focus was how to get Americans back to work and improve the economy. Allentown has a high unemployment rate (9.4 percent in December 2009) compare with the national average (10 percent in December 2009), so the conversation was personal for many attendees.
“In the two years since this recession began, too many members of our American family have felt the gut punch of a pink slip. Eight million Americans have lost their jobs. Every one of us knows somebody who has been swept up by this storm: neighbors who have lost their homes or their health care; friends who have used up their savings or put off their retirement; relatives who have downscaled their dreams or dropped them entirely; young people who aren’t sure whether they can afford their college educations,” President Obama said during the speech.
The President reviewed his plans to grow jobs as quickly as possible, but he also chatted about other concerns, such as clean energy.
Referencing the Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, he said: “We talked about investments in clean energy, to not only create jobs but to make America a global leader in renewable energy technology. We talked about incentives for homeowners, for the materials and labor they need to make their homes more energy efficient. And a smart electricity grid that saves you money and moves our economy forward.”
Bus continued this conversation with President Obama during lunch, which took place at the Hamilton Family Restaurant, a local all-night diner called the “Ham Fam” by locals.
''I told the President that if he can continue to help support sustainable building products, both for commercial and residential applications, it would be a good way to help fuel the economy. I also mentioned that the metal from the Cash for Clunkers program should be recycled so homeowners can then use the recycled metal for a new metal roof. Such a roof would last for 50 years while being more energy efficient, saving the homeowner money and creating more jobs,'' Bus said.
Bus was joined during the lunch by Dr. Debby Cougar, Simmons Veterinary Hospital; Ester Erdossy, Egypt Star Bakery; Allentown Mayor Ed Pawloswki; and Rolf Schlake, Applied Separations Inc. Bus said the group also discussed health care, freeing up credit for small-business people and export barriers from other countries. For the record, President Obama ate a medium-well cheddar cheeseburger, with extra ketchup and mustard, and french fries. He also insisted on paying $100 for the bill, with instructions to divide the additional tip among the staff.
President Obama ended his day in Allentown at the CareerLink job center, where he chatted with unemployed workers who were visiting the center.
“Most of Allentown is still buzzing about what a wonderful day it was,” Bus noted. “President Obama is a very down-to-earth person who is easy to talk with, whether that is about health care reform or the mess he made by getting his burger all over his tie. In his presence, you can genuinely feel the love he has for this great country and you can sense how hard he is fighting for its recovery and growth.”
In fact, President Obama ended his speech at Lehigh Carbon Community College with such sentiments. He said: “I know you may not agree with every decision I make, but I promise I will always tell you the truth about why I’m making these decisions. And I know that we can come together to forge a brighter future so that places like Allentown and Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley don’t just survive, but they thrive. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re fighting for. And as long as I’ve got the privilege of being your President, I will always be there right there with you in the thick of that fight.”
Founded in 1963, ATAS International, Inc., a leading manufacturer of metal roofing, wall and ceiling panels, produces systems for commercial and residential buildings. The ATAS product line offers more than 20 profiles available in aluminum, steel, zinc and copper. These profiles include: standing and batten seams; corrugated; curved; tapered; shingles; tiles; shakes; mansards; and narrow or wide ribbed panels with hidden or exposed fasteners. Rainware, crown moulding and perimeter edge trim are also available with the same finish to match or accent a roofing or wall system. ATAS offers energy efficient building envelope technology, such as cool roofing products that are ENERGY STAR® qualified and InSpire, the transpired solar collector, which utilizes precision perforated metal panels to preheat ventilation air via solar energy. ATA-Solar, a building integrated photovoltaic product complements ATAS’ sustainable product offerings. Profiles are coated with a Kynar 500® PVDF or Hylar 5000® PVDF finish in 30 standard colors. ATAS has four manufacturing facilities in the United States: two facilities, including the headquarters, in Allentown, Pa.; one in Maryville, Tenn.; and one in Mesa, Ariz. All ATAS locations are certified to ISO 9001:2000 with design.
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