WASHINGTON — The Lincolnton, N.C., owner of a small specialty furniture maker will be President Obama's guest at the White House today.
The president has asked Bruce Cochrane, owner of Lincolnton Furniture, and several other business owners to join him to discuss what can be done to encourage companies to keep jobs in the United States.
Cochrane comes from a family that has been building furniture in North Carolina for five generations. In 1996, the family sold the business, and the new owner moved operations to Asia. After years of working as a furniture consultant in China and Vietnam, Cochrane decided to try to reopen a furniture manufacturing operation in North Carolina. He even invested in the sprawling factory that his family had used.
Obama wants to hear from the executives "who have brought jobs back to the United States, why they did that, what were the incentives to doing that," said Jay Carney, White House press secretary.
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Cochrane said the answer is simple. The large banks need to start loaning money again.
He said he would never have been able to launch his business without the assistance of his local bank, Carolina Trust Bank. But he said larger banks have been reluctant to invest in good ideas.
"There are so many people who, if they could get the capital, they would do the things we're doing right now. No question about it," Cochrane said. "I know people who want to do it right now, but can't get the money. Everybody knows it."