OTR Interviews

Flint, Michigan Still Waiting for 2009 Stimulus to Kick In

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is the economy getting better? President Obama says it is, but look around. There are empty stores and foreclosure signs all over the United States. So who is it getting better for? In a recent poll, 57 percent say they disapprove of how the president has handled the economy. And that poll is 14 months after the president signed his February 2009 economic stimulus bill. So let's get specific. We picked Flint, Michigan. How are they doing in Flint, Michigan?

Joining us Nadine Cook, co-owner of Churchill's Food and Spirits. Welcome, Nadine.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nadine, tell me about your business. What is it?

COOK: We are a restaurant lounge and English pub actually located downtown Flint, Michigan. We've been there about 17 years now and have seen quite a bit of different economic growth and development downtown over the last 17 years.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how is it now?

COOK: It's been a struggle. It's certainly been a struggle lately. I think that there's a lot of things going on downtown, a lot of new businesses coming in. We're seeing a lot of restaurants, so there's a lot more competition down there, certainly for us. We're not seeing yet the foot traffic I think that they were anticipating in bringing the new restaurants downtown. Some of the downtown business owners think that perhaps if we had maybe some more retail stores, specialty shops, boutiques, that kind of thing to bring people downtown, other than just restaurants. So we're hopeful that that may bring something in the future.

VAN SUSTEREN: I've been looking at the numbers having to do with Flint, Michigan. And in the year 2000, you had about 25,000 more residents than you have right now. You have about 102,000, give or take, in the latest -- that's the estimate for 2010. So you've lost about 25,000 people. Your unemployment rate is at 11.8 percent, which is above the national average of 8.8, but it's also down from March a year ago, from 15.2.

So I'm trying to find out -- are you seeing more foreclosures, less foreclosures? Are people more worried about business? You've received $182 million in stimulus money. And I want to know, do you think it's worked?

COOK: I don't know so much that it's worked in Michigan. I think a lot of people have moved out of Michigan. I think the downtown Flint area actually had more people moving in. They've built dorms downtown. The riverfront residence hall opened a year ago. They're supposed to be doubling the capacity for that coming up. So we're optimistic with things going on in downtown. I don't know how much stimulus money we've gotten from the federal government. I don't really think that probably it has affected us as much as we had hoped.

VAN SUSTEREN: In talking to people who come in your restaurant or your friends and relatives, do they feel that the economic stimulus bill of 2009 has made a difference in their lives either for the better or for the worse?

COOK: I would have to really probably say for the worse. There's not a lot of people talking about a lot of things, but what I do hear most of it is in housing, loan modifications, the people trying to hang onto their homes and not having a lot of success in doing that. So overall, I haven't seen really anything with the stimulus. I think it goes more to paying off other things other than, you know, just the working class, the people that are just, you know, trying to feed their families and -- you know, and hang onto what they have. And I don't really feel like, you know, they're getting what they truly deserve. I think they're getting the short end of the stick.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you walk down the street, your main drag in Flint, do you see more signs of store -- people going out of business or do you see more growth?

COOK: Downtown, we actually have seen an increase in businesses opening down there. So we are fortunate. That might have more to do with the Ruth Mott Foundation than with any kind of government subsidation. So you know, like I said, I don't really think that the federal stimulus has done anything for downtown Flint.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nadine, thank you, and good luck.

COOK: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.