Sen. Jack Reed walked the length of Main Street Friday, making 14 stops along the way, to both hear from business owners and promote Small Business Saturday, which takes place next Saturday, Nov. 26.
He was joined by Steve Lombardi, executive director of the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, and Bob Catanzaro, Chamber president-elect. During his nearly two hours in East Greenwich, Reed received warm welcomes, including some shout-outs from passersby.
While some business owners told the senator things were looking up, several business owners lamented the slow pace of economic recovery and Bob Hartman at Back to Basics talked about the crushing costs of health care for his employees.
Hartman had a letter for Reed, highlighting the rising cost of health care since 2010. He told the senator costs had only increased since then, the year Obamacare was signed into law.
"You said Obamacare was going to lower the cost. It hasn't really done it here and it's killing us," said Hartman, and he said the tax credits for small business just aren't big enough. "Look at the cost side," he said, "I know you looked at the coverage side."
Reed explained that most of the health care act won't go into affect until 2014 and that getting uninsured people on the insurance rolls will help overall. He said he would investigate the tax credit situation.
One final thing Hartman asked of the senator, referring to Afghanistan: "Bring the boys home."
At Smyle, owners Judi Connery and Polly Stacey told Reed business could be better but that they were looking forward to the holidays.
"We're happy to be in East Greenwich," Said Connery. "We're really happy with how this Main Street is evolving."
Reed bought a small "push puppet" at the gift shop for his young daughter and he expressed delight when he saw how prettily the women packaged it for him.
Connery said, "This is part of our concept – see him smiling? We want people to smile!"
Stops along the tour included Indigo Path Flowers; B & H Framing; Back to Basics; Besos; Smyle; La Masseria; Zu Zu’s Petals; Jiggers; The Green Door; Staci’s Place; Bags by Iris; Luniac Glamour; Greenwich Odeum; and the brand new Silver Spoon Bakery.