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Obama Visits Elkhart, Promises Economic Relief on Primetime TV

All eyes were on Elkhart, Ind. Monday afternoon as President Obama delivered the first town hall meeting of his Presidency from Concord High School in the heart of RV country. Later, in the first primetime White House press conference of his administration, Obama spoke directly to how the nation’s credit crunch is adversely affecting the RV industry.

 

The President was introduced at the Elkhart town hall meeting by laid-off Monaco Coach factory worker Ed Neufeldt, and acknowledged the RV industry’s troubles: “When we say that this area has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America, with an unemployment rate over 15%; when we talk about layoffs at companies like Monaco Coach, Keystone RV, and Pilgrim International – companies that have sustained this community for years – we’re talking about Ed Neufeldt and people like him across this country.”

 

Obama went on to speak to the crowd of 1,700 about the reasons for the RV industry's current difficulties, saying, “People who want to buy an RV now can’t get credit.” He also highlighted opportunities for the industry in the proposed stimulus package, touching on how the program would “help the RV industry move into the next generation” of fuel economy standards.

 

During his primetime press conference Obama again referred to the RV industry, saying, “You know, I can't tell you how many businesses that I talk to that are successful businesses but just can't get credit. Part of the problem in Elkhart that I heard about today was the fact that this is the RV capital of America. You've got a bunch of RV companies that have customers who want to purchase RVs, but even though their credit is good, they can't get the loan.”

 

RV industry representatives attending the town hall event included RVIA Board members DeWayne Creighton, Dynamax; Doug Gaeddert, Forest River; Gregg Fore, Dicor Corp.; Dan Shea, Gulf Stream; B.J. Thompson, B.J. Thompson Associates; and Don Walter, Jayco Corp. Also attending were Dicky Riegel, Thor; Bob Wheeler, Airstream; Ron Fenech, Keystone RV; Jeff Kime, Four Winds; and Rich Florea, Dutchmen. RVIA supplied RV industry attendees with talking points and questions addressing the need for stimulus funds for the industry.

 

Prior to the town hall event, RVIA worked behind-the-scenes with Rep. Joe Donnelly’s staff and White House staff, offering both to supply RVs to transport the President, and to schedule an RV plant tour for the President, something which his tight schedule did not permit.   

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