Business leaders hope to hear direction, cooperation in State of the Union speech

Jessica Perry//January 24, 2012

Business leaders hope to hear direction, cooperation in State of the Union speech

Jessica Perry//January 24, 2012

When President Barack Obama addresses the nation tonight during his State of the Union address, New Jersey business organization leaders will be listening to hear words of direction, leadership and cooperation.

“What the business community and the general public is waiting to hear is what kind of leadership he will provide, in terms of getting our fiscal house in order and getting our economy up and running stronger than it has been,” said Philip Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

Kirschner said he’s interested in hearing if the president will address tax reform, and more importantly, cooperation between the executive and legislative branches.

Obama should “emulate New Jersey” in order to get Congress on board with “all of these worthy goals … and somehow break through the dysfunction in Washington,” Kirschner said.

“I hope the general theme of this message is one that will bring the country together and work in a bipartisan way, to focus on creating jobs and improving the economy,” said John E. McWeeney Jr., president and CEO of the New Jersey Bankers Association.

“Hopefully we’ll hear something about efforts to revitalize the housing market and deal with the national foreclosure crisis that we’re experiencing,” McWeeney said. “I’d like to hear some comments from him that the administration in Washington is going to be more sensitive to putting compliance and regulatory burdens on the business community, and banks in particular.”

McWeeney said he hopes the president’s speech does not negatively address banking and capitalism, which he called a “damaging and divisive” message.

Harry D. Menta, spokesman for the New Jersey district office of the Small Business Administration, believes Obama will address the need to create manufacturing jobs, an issue important to the SBA’s constituency.

Menta said he’s also heard the president will speak about energy and developing skills and innovation, which “all tie into each other.”

“I think you’re going to hear the president mention the SBA tonight … as one of the lead agencies to be a part of his plan going forward,” Menta said.

Obama announced last week that the SBA would be part of a reorganization of six federal business and commerce agencies.