February 13th, 2013
02:57 PM ET
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (CNN)- Seeking to build momentum and rally support for his jobs agenda, President Obama began the first of three campaign-style day trips around the country Wednesday a day after his fourth State of the Union address.
Traveling to Asheville, North Carolina Mr. Obama spoke at an auto parts plant to highlight his proposals he hopes will make America a "magnet" for jobs and manufacturing.
"I believe in manufacturing I think it makes our country stronger," Mr. Obama told the small crowd of workers gathered around the makeshift podium in the center of the factory.
Calling the middle class the "true engine of American economic growth" and "the North star that guides everything we do," the president warned there would be "no magic bullet".
He went on to try to rally support for his proposals now stalled in a partisan Congress.
“[W]e've got to stop with some of the politics that we see in Washington sometimes that's focused on who's up and who's down, and let's just focus on the same kind of common sense and cooperation that we're seeing at this plant," said Mr. Obama.
The Linamar factory where the president spoke is a Canadian company that expanded its investments in the U.S. when it opened the Asheville plant in 2011 in a building that once housed a Volvo Construction plant that closed down. Linamar employs 140 workers at the plant in Asheville and hopes to add 60 more workers. It is one of four manufacturing facilities it owns in the U.S.
But while speaking at this model of "in-sourcing" the president warned, "We're not going to bring back every job that's been lost to out-sourcing."
The local Chamber of Commerce says Linamar is just one of more than a dozen new manufacturing companies it has attracted to the area in the past two years in part using incentives from the state of North Carolina to entice international firms to relocate there.
But across the North Carolina as well as across the country, firms struggle in a still shaky economy.
Just an hour and a half from where the president spoke Wednesday, local furniture manufacturer Bruce Cochrane is trying to attract investors so he can re-open his company.
It's been a roller coaster year for Cochrane who laid-off all of his 51 employees earlier this month. A year ago almost to the day, Cochrane sat with First Lady Michelle Obama as her guest at the president's 2012 State of the Union address.
A North Carolina native Cochrane told CNN he first met President Obama at a forum on "in-sourcing" where he told the story of starting his own "green technology" furniture business after his generations old family furniture business was sold and the job went overseas.
His story captured the attention of the White House and he was invited to sit in the First Lady's box for the president's State of the Union speech last year.
"I told him about how access to capital was extremely difficult [for small business], said Cochrane.
But Cochrane got the capital and retro-fitted his family's former furniture factory to use "green technology" like water based finishes which had an almost "neutral carbon footprint" and utilized sustainable woods in his furniture.
Cochrane says he encountered what he called "surprises" which delayed opening for a time but he eventually hired more than 70 workers.
Less than one year after he sat in the First Lady's box as an example of a small business who could "in-source" Cochrane "ceased operations" at Lincolnton Furniture. Cochrane says the downturn was due to lower than expected orders and unexpected expenses.
He is now looking for new investors and is optimistic he can re-open in the future.
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