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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.

FULL POST

April 16th, 2010
02:22 PM ET

Video: Recycling builds 'iconic' venue

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent


Filed under: Building Up America • Tom Foreman
April 14th, 2010
09:49 AM ET
March 24th, 2010
11:22 AM ET
March 19th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Is that a banjo on your knee?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/18/hyundai.al.jpg caption="Hyundai employees work on a car on the assembly line at the Montgomery, AL plant"]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

I spent the week in Alabama, and let me tell you it was an eye-opener. With all the cheese grits, fried shrimp, and barbeque, it was also something of a heart-valve-closer, but that’s a different story. I was there to find ways in which people are thriving despite the bad economy, and let me tell you I found plenty.

Now you might say “What does that have to do with me?” Go ahead. Say it aloud, and watch the person next to you nervously sidle away. It’s fun!

Alabama has plenty to do with you, because in difficult times it makes sense to look for those who have experienced great difficulties before to guide us toward recovery; and when it comes to difficulties, Alabama has had a sackful.

So what are they doing there now? For starters, they are pulling together. To attract a huge new Hyundai plant a few years back, they had to unite across political, business, community, racial, and economic lines. And it worked. That plant set up shop south of Montgomery and today is credited with fueling more than 20-thousand jobs in the region. With a new Kia facility now roaring to life just across the line in Georgia, even more positive ripples are expected.

They are looking to markets beyond their borders. Alabama’s exports have grown by 36-percent since 2004; directly creating 1,000 new jobs, and indirectly protecting many more.

FULL POST


Filed under: Building Up America • Raw Politics • Tea Party • Tom Foreman
March 19th, 2010
11:09 AM ET

Video: Retiring and building up America

Tom Foreman | Bio AC360° Correspondent

A risky idea turns into a retirement bonanza for the state of Alabama. Tom Foreman reports.


Filed under: Building Up America
March 18th, 2010
03:52 PM ET
March 17th, 2010
06:16 PM ET

Building up America: How Hyundai changed the world...in South Alabama

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

You don’t have to travel far in this country to find heartfelt concern about the number of jobs that have been shipped overseas by American businesses. But in south Alabama, the biggest economic blessing in years has come from a foreign firm that decided to ship thousands of jobs here.

The Hyundai plant just below Montgomery began rolling out shiny new cars in 2005, hit full capacity in 2007, and the results have transformed this region. Dozens of companies which supply Hyundai with everything from sunroofs, to dashboards, to bumpers have sprung up across the landscape, creating jobs and a hedge against more sharp rises in the state’s unemployment rate.

FULL POST


Filed under: Building Up America • Tom Foreman
March 17th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

Building up America: Down by the riverside

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/17/biscuits.baseball.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

I have history in Montgomery. I began my TV reporting career here almost 30 years ago at WSFA; chasing down house fires, school disputes, angry city council members, and hopeful business owners. And even back then, people were talking about how downtown needed to be rebuilt.

Dexter Avenue, the main street stretching up to the historic, domed Capitol Building, was struggling to keep afloat even back then. And every few years it seemed some businessman, or civic group, or developer would launch yet another new project to bring it roaring back to life. Only it didn’t happen. The money was spent, the improvements were made, and the decay continued.

Now, however, a few blocks away the most aggressive and coordinated effort I’ve ever seen to reclaim downtown is picking up steam.

“How y’all doing?” Bert Miller is a tall African American man whose big voice booms over the noisy supper crowd at Dreamland Barbeque right in the middle of the reclamation zone. And his hearty laugh leaves no doubt how he is doing. “We couldn’t have asked for a better location. Business is good. We’ve been very blessed.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Building Up America • Tom Foreman
March 17th, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Building up America: The business on the side of the road

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/17/online.commerce.group.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Rolling north out of Montgomery, the Wetumpka Highway cuts through one of those sprawling, sketchy industrial areas that crouch along the tracks near every medium sized town. Dotted with farm equipment dealers, natural gas suppliers, scrap metal yards, and the odd factory, it seems the most unlikely of places for an Internet boomer.

Enough so, that even as we pull up to the low, non-descript, and beaten up building that houses the Online Commerce Group I have my doubts about what we will find. A hand lettered sign on the front door points us to a side entrance, and my expectations drop even lower.

Then I meet Gerry Monroe. He is 43 years old. A graduate of Auburn University who wanted to build up his business in his home state. Monroe is one of the founders of this company and he goes to work each day with a simple belief about what that takes. “Every day you’ve got to make something happen.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Building Up America • Tom Foreman
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