Obama tours Missouri electric-truck factory funded by stimulus

President Barack Obama stopped in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday to visit a firm that received Recovery Act funds to build commercial trucks powered completely by electricity.

The firm, Smith Electric Vehicles, manufacturers all-electric, zero-emissions commercial trucks. After touring the facilities Obama spoke to an audience of workers and Missouri Democratic lawmakers including Gov. Jay Nixon, Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver on the state of the economy.

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"Yes, this has been a difficult period for America: two years of brutal recession; a decade of economic insecurity. And there will be more hard days. That’s the truth. But what you are proving here at Smith Electric is the promise of a brighter future," Obama said in his prepared remarks.

"What you are proving is that – if we hold fast to the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that has always defined us as a people – we will not only emerge from this period of turmoil, we will emerge stronger than ever before."

The event is part of the administration’s ongoing attempt to draw attention to jobs created by Recovery Act projects. Smith received a $32 million Recovery Act grant to build up to 500 electric trucks, part of the $2.4 billion in stimulus funds set aside for advanced battery and electric vehicle development.

"One of those decisions was to provide critical funding to promising, innovative businesses like Smith Electric. And because we did, there is a thriving enterprise here instead of an empty, darkened warehouse," Obama said. "Because of the grant that went to this company, we can hear the sounds of machines humming and people doing their jobs, instead of the quiet of an empty building where the workers were laid off long ago."

Obama also acknowledged that Smith Electric had recently hired its fiftieth employee at the plant. Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said the visit to Missouri had anything to do with the Obama losing the swing state in the 2008 presidential election.