Coast business owners need the new president to stimulate the economy

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On a chilly, but sun swept Tuesday in our nation's capitol, Barack Obama became our 44th president.

In his inaugural speech, the new commander in chief said starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America. That work starts with repairing the nation's economy.

Gulfport businessman Charles Cooper is counting on the Obama administration to reinvigorate the economy. Before getting into the restaurant business, Coop was a coach. That became evident when he talked about America's current economic crisis, and its impact on his eatery.

"We're down 21-0, late second quarter," the former coach said about his business at his restaurant.

Cooper trimmed the hours he stays open to cut down on some costs.

"It's got to be a team effort if we're going to get back in the game," he said.

On the TV in his dining room, Cooper watched with teary eyed friends as the man he called the country's next quarterback took the oath of office. When the new president said, "So help me God" and Chief Justice John Roberts congratulated him, Cooper's friend, and chef John Allison smiled and said, "It's finished Coop."

Cooper shook his head, smiled, and quietly said it's official.

"How do I feel?" Allison asked his boss. "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. It's a long time coming."

The question back in the kitchen was whether Obama's recipe for success would be enough to keep entrepreneurs in business.

"I think with him up front, and with the enthusiasm that we've displayed in terms of the election and things of that nature, we may have a chance to get back in the game," Cooper said.

The clock may be ticking. And small businesses like Coop's Rib Crib may be out of timeouts. But the coach and his team can see Obama leading businesses like theirs on a last minute drive to victory.

"It's quite unbelievable but believable at the same time," said Ben Hinton. He watched the inauguration at Coop's. "It actually has happened, thank God."

In Biloxi, Daphne Davis watched the inauguration in a cramped office at the Innovation Center. She runs Ace Construction. And her small business could use an assist from the Obama administration.

"I would like to see small businesses have a great part in the stimulus package," she said. "I know that there's a lot of infrastructure that's going to be revamped. And just giving those projects to the large companies is not really going to help a lot of people that are out of work. The small businesses are the ones that create jobs in this nation."