Obama to visit Celgard, highlight successful job creation
Economic news in Charlotte hasn't been rosy of late: high unemployment, flagging home prices, massive cuts to government budgets. But President Obama has chosen to highlight a recent success story when he visits on Friday. The White House says President Obama will tour the facility where Celgard makes components for batteries. He also plans to talk with the company's employees about the economy, which is grim for the Charlotte region. Unemployment here is 12.8 percent - that's a full three percentage points above the national average. But Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Vice President Kati Hynes says Celgard is an example of what's working on the jobs front. "You know, a solid growing company that is receiving stimulus from the federal government and definitely creating a large number of jobs," says Hynes. "And the energy industry is one of our target industries. So we're real excited about (the president) coming to town." Celgard recently received a $50 million stimulus grant from the Department of Energy to expand its Charlotte operation and build a second facility in Concord focused on making battery components for electric cars. The company promises to create 289 new jobs in the region over the next five years, but few of those positions have been filled yet. About 400 people currently work at the Celgard facility in South Charlotte. They'll have a chance to chat with the president during his noontime visit on Friday. The White House says the president will not make a public appearance while he's here.