Lisa Spitz blogs from presidential visit to Buffalo

Factory area where workers will participate in meeting with President Obama / photo: Lisa Spitz


President wrapped up and is now shaking hands with people. He said what made Wayne Gretzky a great hockey player was not that he knew where the puck was, but where is was going and that it's the same for the economy: It's important to see where the jobs of the future are now.


President spoke for 10 minutes and then started taking questions for audience. People are asking about health care, the transit system, taxes and educational support for small businesses

"We are on a course that is working," President Obama said.

President Obama says a $30 billion small business lending fund was part of his State of the Union Address. He sent Congress legislation that would extend credit for small business.

President says small businesses have been the hardest hit since the recession and that government can create the conditions for small businesses to thrive. He says his administration has taken steps across America to help small businesses grow.

President says 290,000 jobs were created last month and it's the largest growth in manufacturing since 1998.

President says state of our economy is still emerging from one of worst recessions in history. He says the country is still hurting and he knows things are still tough for people.

He says "beyond a shadow of a doubt we are heading in the right direction" and that the economy is groing again.

President just started speaking. Says he had to try the wings in Buffalo.

President's motorcade has arrived he should be speaking shortly. The president is on the tour, he saw the area where they work on metal and where they do sewing work here at Industrial Support Inc.


Waiting for President Obama to speak. We hear the president made a surprise stop at Duff's Famous Wings. The president will tour the facility before speaking.

1:05 PM:

President Obama and Air Force One have landed in Buffalo. Music here is playing and people are waiting for the President, who is expected to speak in about a half hour from now.

The Associated Press is reporting that Obama made a quick stop at a local deli to lunch on some famous Buffalo wings, saying "This is the wing capital."

After getting off of Air Force One, the President met privately with a small group of people who lost family and friends in the February 2009 crash of Flight 3407.

12:30 PM:

Everyone is now inside Industrial Support Inc. waiting for President Obama. Workers we talked to today say they are excited to hear what Obama has to say and never thought he would be speaking in front of them. Some like Sal Pecoraro, even brought their family along. It will be awhile before the president arrives here, people are snapping photos with their cell phone cameras.

The President is coming here because this company has added jobs. According to the White House, President Obama will take a tour the facility, he will then talk about the economy and hold a question and answer session. There are also some business and political leaders here, mainly from Western New York, but Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner is here.

Kessner said, "I think that Syracuse has a lot in common with Buffalo. I think that all the Upstate cities do. You lose manufacuring, you lose population, you have trouble educating your kids." Having the "interest and ear" of the President in Buffalo, she says, will help Syracuse.

The President is expected to be arriving in Buffalo soon. While here, he will also be meeting with victim's families from flight 3407 which crashed ouside of Buffalo last year.

I would not be giving the "full" picture if I left this out: The bathrooms here consist only of port-a-potties.

Getting through security was quick, under 10 minutes. The secret service agent commented on how warm my socks looked. They are very bright pink and big, but it's cold here.

11:00 AM:

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner is here. She will be attending the president TMs speech this afternoon. She says there are a lot of similarities between Buffalo and Syracuse, and she is interested to hear what the president has to say about his economic agenda and economic development. If she gets the chance to ask him a question, she would like to discuss education.

The streets around the factory are shut off to local traffic for security purposes. People are being screened at a security checkpoint before they are allowed to approach the building.

8:00 AM:

We arrived in Buffalo at 8:00 AM. Right now we are at the Industrial Support Inc. warehouse where the president will be speaking. Television crews are setting up their cameras. There are also crews from Buffalo, Rochester, Utica and the national media. There are chairs set up for about 250 people who will be attending, we're told many will be factory workers.

Industrial Support Inc. is a manufacturer that includes making products for things like salad bars. Outside there are many live trucks for television.

Right now it's all about set up. People from the White House are making sure the microphone is working, cameras and lighting are being looked over. It's all very technical.

We are relatively close to the podium. In past presidential visits I have covered, they have been a bit bigger, and the media is further back.

6:00 AM:

President Obama will be in Buffalo this afternoon as part of his Main Street economic tour. The president will be speaking with workers about his economic agenda.

Here TMs a behind-the-scenes look at a Presidential visit:

Even though the president won TMt be in Buffalo until later, photographer Andy Wolf and I have to be there hours ahead of time. We have two cameras, a mini-camera, a laptop computer, two Blackberrys and a cell phone. The equipment has to be dropped off ahead of time so it can be screened by the Secret Service. We have to leave the building for a few hours and then when we come back, we are screened. This is standard procedure as with other Presidential trips I have covered. What people may not realize is how much waiting around time there is before the President arrives. We have to be in place almost two hours before he enters the building.

We left Syracuse just after 5:00 AM. We made it about a block down the road before Andy realized he forgot the cell phone. We laughed, considering how much technology we have in the car. We turned around, got the phone and got on the Thruway. It TMs been foggy and we are set to arrive in Buffalo before 8:00 AM.