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Local businessman attends Obama health care speech

Steven Holloway, senior vice president of Modern Gas, represented Albany small businesses in a recent meeting where President Obama spoke about health care reform.

Steven Holloway, senior vice president of Modern Gas, represented Albany small businesses in a recent meeting where President Obama spoke about health care reform.

ALBANY -- Steven Holloway, senior vice president of Modern Gas, was in a select audience last month.

But it didn't sway him to support health care reform efforts.

He was one of 100 small business owners and representatives who were invited to attend an Oct. 29 speech on health care and the economy by President Obama in Washington, D.C.

"There is no question that we live in a great country where everyday citizens can have the chance to have access to one of the most powerful leaders in the world," he said of the experience. "It was quite an honor."

Holloway was given the opportunity to listen to Obama's speech by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Catherine Glover, president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, the invitation to the event was only given to 130 active representatives who serve on the Small Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Glover said after discussion, it was decided that the opportunity should be given to a small business owner in the community.

"We thought, 'Who better to take full advantage of this opportunity than a successful small business?'" she said.

Glover said that Modern Gas was awarded the 2010 Small Business of the Year award and that Holloway agreed to make the trip to Washington.

Holloway said that while it was exciting to go to our nation's capital, Obama's speech to small business owners left much to be desired.

"I was all excited about how the president was going to tell about the impact of his health care plan for small businesses," he said. "Unfortunately, there was no meat to the speech."

Holloway said Obama's talk to small business owners lasted approximately 30 minutes without any type of question-and-answer session.

"He (Obama) should have allowed time for questions," he said. "It would have been a perfect time for feedback."

Holloway said without specific details, he was not convinced to support health care reform.

"I would have liked for him to have a contract that he could have held up and said, 'My administration is for health care reform. If you would help me convince Congress that this is what we need in order to affect health care reform.' That's something we could wrap our hands around and say, 'Hey, we'll support that,' " Holloway said.

He said he appreciates Obama understanding that health care for small businesses is an important concern, but added that without details, those small business owners are left in the dark.

"He (Obama) is going to have to get more detail oriented and give us some thing to hang your hat on (before we support it)," said Holloway.

He said the health care debate is a major concern for Modern Gas because it is one of the area's small businesses that provide insurance to all employees.

"We took time away from our businesses in this economic climate," said Holloway. "We needed to see some tangible stuff."