A Lincoln County business owner was at the White House Wednesday, visiting President Barack Obama.
The business owner’s plan to turn an old, empty plant into a thriving business caught the president's eye.
It’s been three years since the gate to the old Cochrane Furniture opened to ship out furniture, but that will change by the end of the month. And what's happening on the other side of that gate is what captured the attention of the White House.
Bruce Cochrane, the owner of Lincolnton Furniture, was invited to Washington, D.C., by Obama. The president asked a handful of business leaders from across the country to visit to talk about keeping jobs in America.
Cochrane is using new machinery that requires fewer workers, and that is expected to make the plant more competitive with foreign furniture makers. He expects to hire 140 people to work at what was a dormant plant.
Obama said Wednesday he wants to reward companies that invest in America and eliminate tax breaks for companies that don't, and he's planning new tax proposals to do it. He said that rising American productivity and increasingly competitive costs add up to "a unique moment, an inflection point" for businesses to invest in the U.S. and bring jobs back home. And he argued there's a moral case for it, too, and that business leaders have a responsibility to their country.
"So my message to business leaders today is simple: ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to the country that made our success possible -- and I'm going to do everything in my power to help you do it. We're going to have to seize this moment," Obama said.
"This moment is perfectly suited for our advantages, it's perfectly suited for who we are," he said. "The global marketplace is becoming more innovative, more creative, more transparent, faster, more adaptable -- that's who we are, that's our strength. We've got to take advantage of it."
The White House says the president will propose $12 million in his 2013 budget to promote business investment from overseas in the United States. Obama said he'd propose tax changes in the next few weeks but he didn't provide details.