Updated: Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012, 11:37 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 01 Nov 2012, 6:30 PM EDT
BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) - Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis is the mayor of the National League of Cities and this year attended both the Democratic and National Conventions. Friday, he talked with NewsChannel 15's Terra Brantley about our nation's economy in our special series Saving America: What Now.
"I'm in my seventeenth year as mayor of Bluffton," said Ellis. "Bill Graham down in Scottsburg has a couple terms on me, but other than that, I think I'm there."
As the second longest serving mayor in Indiana Ellis jokes that he feels old, but he's consistently helped his city experience new growth during his 17 years of leadership.
With a population of nearly 10,000, and a 6.8 percent unemployment rate, Bluffton continues to remain economically viable. Two of its companies, Motor Works/Franklin Electric, a motors manufacturer and W.W. Williams-Customized Power Service, an electrical contractor have recently expanded.
An already thriving downtown also has a new tenant. Yaya's, a mid-century vintage corner store, opened just a few months ago. "We're not adding a whole lot of jobs from these three right now," said Ellis,"but the potential is there for increased job growth as these companies grow and flourish in Bluffton. We're stable and growing in an economy that's still not growing very fast."
During our first Saving America interview last November, Mayor Ellis and I talked about the fragile state of our nation's economy. He said building up the infrastructure could help, but the bottom line was getting lawmakers to ditch the my way or the highway mentality.
"We're going to have to call on our legislators and our members of Congress to make some touch decisions and with protests in the streets and people from the left and from the right, you just don't hear people saying we're willing to do something uncomfortable to get us out of this." (November 2011)
Now one year later, EIlis hasn't changed his position. "It's going to be a long road back and it's going to take some sacrifice. There's not a mayor in Indiana, who won't look his or her constituents in the eye and say look, if you want this, then you're going to have to sacrifice this, whether it's in terms of higher taxes or reduced services somewhere else. Congress seems unwilling to do that. The whole federal government seems unwilling to say there's some hard choices ahead and we just need to make those hard choices."
Ellis believes a hard choice was made this summer when the Supreme Court upheld President Obama's healthcare reform law. Now Ellis says it's a matter of staying the course.
The most recent unemployment figures show the nation's jobless rate stands at 7.8 percent. Last year at this time, it was nine percent. New numbers come out Friday. Ellis believes the drop is a positive economic indicator.
"I think it's a slow crawl back and if you look historically, we didn't bounce right out of any of these recessions. So I think we're crawling on the way back. The argument probably is we're not doing it faster but things never happen fast in an economy or a country really fast. I think we're on the right direction. I just hope we can make it stick."
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