Roxbury community leader Darnell Williams was encouraged to hear President Obama refocus his attention on the hurting economy in his first State of the Union address, though he's holding out for results before he really celebrates.
"The president was spot on," Williams, executive director and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, told WBUR Thursday morning.
In a conversation with WBUR last week, Williams had expressed hope that Obama would shift his focus from the health care debate to economic recovery in Wednesday night's speech. He wanted Obama to focus on the needs of average Americans on "Main Street," he said.
The president used the address to outline new measures to foster jobs, including using $30 billion repaid by Wall Street banks to help small businesses, and rewarding businesses that hire new workers with a tax credit. Obama also defended his stimulus package, which he said has accounted for approximately 2 million jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployed.
But Williams said such job retention has not been felt by the people he serves in Roxbury, many of whom seek employment in customer service and sales.
He said he is optimistic, though, that the 1.5 million jobs the president expects to be created through proposed initiatives in 2010 would have a direct impact on the neighborhood.
Williams just wants to see that effect sooner rather than later.
"Conservatively, you're probably looking at between 12 to 18 months to see the real impact of this money," he said. "If they can figure out a way to get the money into hands within 30 days or 60 days, that would be a phenomenal hit, and would clearly show that not only is this their focus, but that they are putting it as urgent."
This program aired on January 28, 2010.