President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address Jan. 28, 2014, the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the White House/P. Souza)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- President Barack Obama will visit Nashville on Thursday to speak at McGavock High School as part of a tour across the nation to promote various economic and educational initiatives that he discussed during his State of the Union address.
In his speech in Nashville, Obama is expected to focus on raising the minimum wage, promoting job creation, and helping the estimated 20 million Americans who have remained unemployed for quite some time.
Democrats welcomed the announcement that he would be stopping by Nashville, saying Tennesseans should be honored the city has been chosen as one of the places on his tour across the nation.
“We are excited and proud to learn today that President (Barack) Obama has chosen Nashville to deliver an address on how we can do more to provide opportunities to all Americans and strengthen the middle class,” said state Rep. Mike Turner, who serves as the House Democratic Caucus chairman in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“Under his leadership, a great deal of the economy has recovered from the recession, but too many Americans are still forced to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet,” Turner said. “We need to do more as a country to expand economic opportunity and build our economy from the middle out.
“We look forward to hearing (his) goals and vision to grow the economy in a way that rewards hard work and allows everyone to live the American dream.”
The visit comes just two days after he called for a “year of action” in his State of the Union address and vowed to bypass Congress through executive order if more is not done soon to address the growing “economic inequality” that is plaguing the nation.
“What I offer is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” Obama said during the address. “Some require congressional action, and I am eager to work with all of you. But, America does not stand still, and neither will I.”
Contending “upward mobility” has stalled, Obama said the federal government needs to work with states to address the issue.
As part of those plans, Obama said he wants more partnerships between the manufacturing and business communities with universities – a practice that has flourished in recent years under the leadership of Gov. Bill Haslam here in Tennessee.
Although the Obama administration has not elaborated on why Nashville is part of his tour, the visit comes on the heels of news that Tennessee is the fastest-improving state in the nation in terms of educational progress.
It also coincides with the recent rollout of the “Drive to 55” initiative, which is aimed at increasing the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
Part of those efforts includes working with the business community and higher education institutions to provide technology training for students, so that Tennessee has a skilled workforce that gives incentives to companies to hire local residents.