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March 16, 2009

Hi. And welcome back to "At the Center."

As we are all well aware by now, last month President Obama signed the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act --an unprecedented effort aimed at jump starting the national economy.

While the more philosophical arguments for or against the plan continued to be discussed by some, and still others are left pouring over the details of what all is in the Act, the fact of the matter is, it has passed. And, for it to have a chance at success, it is incumbent upon us to be as familar with it's contents as possible.

To that end, the administration has established a website,, that will be the main vehicle to provide information on the plan, track the progress of the plan and attempt to ensure the transparency on the implementation of the plan. It is a site well worth bookmarking.

Remember, this is your money the government is proposing to spend and it is in all our best interest to make sure they are being held accountable.

Yet, there is another reason to stay informed, as well. Fact is, the stimulus package includes elements that your business just may want to take advantage of.

As you will learn on the website, the Recovery Act targets investments in key areas that you and/or your employees could benefit from. Whether it be tax credits for hiring or training employees; extensions and enhancements to unemployment compensation and COBRA benefits; or new opportunities for energy grants, there is much in the bill worth exploring. To not check it out is limiting both your company's and your employees' options for securing help in these challenging times.

Further, through the proposed infrastructure improvements; science and technology incentives; clean and efficient energy promotion; and numerous construction projects, the Act has its share of business opportunities for you to be aware of, as well. While for some of you it may not be directly apparent how a business opportunity could materialize, the fact of the matter is that you will never know unless you check it out.

My bottom line is this: While some may not agree with aspects of the package, at this point it has become law and its only chance of success is if it is utilized. With short time frames around implementation and a "use it or lose it" credo to get all the money spent quickly in order to jump start the economy, now is the time to check it out. So log on to and explore the opportunities for your company and, while you are at it, do what you can to hold our government accountable for the results, as well.

We recognize we are in changing and difficult times that require action. And, we all know that the best long-term "action" we can hope for will come from a productive private sector. In the short term, however, few of you can afford to ignore the opportunities that may just help stabilize your company and assist your workforce. In that regard, few can afford to be uninformed about the Recovery Act. Take the time to introduce yourself to

Until next month, stay informed, stay engaged and stay with the center.

Thomas T. Baldrige, President
Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry