April 19th, 2010
08:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #455: Building up Kansas

Reporter's Note: I’m not sure how many times President Obama has been to Kansas. But I’m there now, so just in case he’s wondering what I’m up to, I thought I’d make that the subject of today’s letter to the White House.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

The flight into Kansas was largely uneventful. I came by way of Baltimore and Chicago on a pair of puddle jumpers and dove right into the work when I arrived. As I told you, I’m here to do more of our Building Up America series, and we’re starting off in Wichita. Anyway, my cameraman, Dave, had heard about some Civil War re-enactors appearing at a local western museum, so we hustled right over to check it out, and it proved a good time.

They marched around in their blue and gray uniforms, fired volleys, charged, retreated, fell dead, and finally got up and walked away to appreciative applause. As civil wars go, this one was remarkably civil. I spent about a half hour talking to the guy who owned the cannon while he explained how he bought it, and how it is fired, and the range. He and another fellow there told me it has an effective range of 900 yards. Nine football fields! Amazing.

Kansas, in case you don’t know, has fared relatively well during this recession. Granted, they’ve taken some sharp hits in the airplane making business (I assume you are aware that this is THE big state for making private airplanes, like those corporate jets that stirred up all the fuss…) and they’ve lost some jobs; but they’ve also proven pretty darn resilient in finding ways to make a go of it anyway. Scads of small businesses have come up with clever ways to move ahead and add jobs wherever they can.

There is a guy, for example, in the town of Wamego who had an idea about reviving a long-forgotten wine industry here and combining it with the legendary tale of The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy, as you may recall, was a Kansan) and his Oz Winery has been booming ever since.

The result is an unemployment rate well below the national average and a housing market in which some analysts are predicting a pretty good rebound through the rest of the year and even better in 2011. It’s all rather encouraging even as plenty of folks here readily admit times have been tough and they don’t think the nation is out of the woods yet.

It’s late and I’m tired, so despite this not being much of a letter, I’m going to wrap it up. Could be a long week on the road and I don’t want to get too wiped out right away. Tomorrow, I’m off to meet a woman and her husband who make farm equipment. That will be fun! You should be here. Want me to send a picture from my phone? Just let me know.

Btw, had a steak that was magnificent. Note to self: Find time for a run tomorrow.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. David, Indiana

    Yeah looks great there in KS. Oh well. I never go anywhere on the weekends so I get to read your letters and see all the great reports.

    April 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  2. CTilson

    Oz Winery is so much fun! Great decor and whimsical themes. The Oz Museum next door is just as fun. A great place to add to your KS trip plan!

    April 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  3. Norma Labno

    Having lived in Overland Park, KS for 10 yrs, I'm enjoying your

    People who have not been to KS are often in for a surprise. Much
    natural beauty & plenty to do! 🙂 (So many gorgeous areas in the

    norma (now) fr nv

    April 19, 2010 at 11:46 am |