President Barack Obama says communities like Elkhart are helping fuel the resurgence of the "strongest, most durable economy in the world." The president returned to the site of his first trip as president, which at the time had the nation’s highest unemployment rate. Today, Elkhart County’s jobless rate is around four percent, and is the capital of an RV industry that Obama says is on track to ship a record 400,000 RVs this year. Not everyone agrees that the president’s policies have been the driving force of growth. Earlier Wednesday, Governor Mike Pence said Elkhart was succeeding "in spite of" his actions.
President Obama cited other signs of progress in the state, saying, at the peak of the crisis, one in 10 Indiana homeowners was behind on a mortgage or in foreclosure. He says today, that number is one in 30. He also pointed out gains in education, saying, "Back then, 75 percent of your kids graduated from high school. Tomorrow, 90 percent of them will."
The president says the rebound has been fueled in part by investment in job training, allowing people who lost their jobs in the recession to "retool." He says investment in advanced manufacturing, clean energy and infrastructure allowed entrepreneurs to not only bring back jobs that were lost, but create additional better jobs.
In an editorial first published in The Elkhart Truth, Pence argued Indiana’s economy is growing "in spite of the burdens that higher taxes, mandates and increasing regulations from Washington D.C." have placed on it.
While he did discuss the 2016 election, President Obama said he was not in Elkhart looking for votes, reminding those in attendance that "I got whooped here in 2012." He said he came in hopes that "we build on all the work that communities like yours have done to bring America back over the last seven years."
President Obama says Elkhart and Indiana have made huge strides since his 2009 visit.