#ObamaInIA: Obama concludes speech at CFU, heads back to D.C. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

#ObamaInIA: Obama concludes speech at CFU, heads back to D.C.

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President Obama waves to the crowd at Waterloo Regional Airport as he boards Air Force One to head back to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. President Obama waves to the crowd at Waterloo Regional Airport as he boards Air Force One to head back to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.
Air Force One leaves the Waterloo airspace at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Air Force One leaves the Waterloo airspace at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.
President Obama shakes hands with the invited crowd after his speech at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Cedar Falls Utilities. President Obama shakes hands with the invited crowd after his speech at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Cedar Falls Utilities.
Obama speaks to the crowd at Cedar Falls Utilities on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 14, 2015. Obama speaks to the crowd at Cedar Falls Utilities on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 14, 2015.
The presidential motorcade as it goes through Cedar Falls. The presidential motorcade as it goes through Cedar Falls.
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  • Obama in Iowa

    Obama in Iowa

    Full coverage of President Obama's visit to Cedar Falls and his speech -- and reactions -- on faster broadband Internet access.
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    Full coverage of President Obama's visit to Cedar Falls and his speech -- and reactions -- on faster broadband Internet access.
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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Air Force One -- with President Obama aboard -- has officially left the Cedar Valley.

The President's plane officially departed the Waterloo Regional Airport at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

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President Obama laid out his policies with regards to more access to broadband Internet in his speech Wednesday afternoon, which ended just before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Obama spoke for nearly 20 minutes to a crowd of 205, according to local officials.

He opened with a shout-out to the University of Northern Iowa Panther men's basketball team.

"The Panthers are putting together a heck of a season again," Obama said. "And I think most folks learned a few years ago, when March rolls around, you do not bet against UNI."

He said he wishes he had time to grab a beer while in town, but said Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews brought him a Bud Light and is trying to sneak it around the Secret Service.

Obama then talked up the steps the administration has taken on the economy.

"There is no doubt about it, thanks to the steps we took early to rescue the economy to rebuild it on a new foundation, America is coming back," he said." Last year was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s."

"American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s," he added. "Manufacturing is actually growing faster than the rest of the economy."

"These past six years were trying, demanded a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice … but as a country we have a right to be proud about what we have to show for it," he added.

Obama said he's in a rush, and doesn't want to wait for the State of the Union to share some of his ideas. He said he was here to talk about how to give communities better, faster, cheaper broadband.

"Today, high speed broadband is not a luxury," Obama said. "It's a necessity. This isn't just about making it easter to stream Netflix or scroll through your Facebook news feed. This is about helping local businesses grow and prosper and compete in a global economy.

"It's about giving the entrepreneur, the small business person on Main Street, a chance to compete with the folks out in Silicon Valley or across the globe."

Obama added that too many people do not have access to high-speed broadband.

"In Cedar Falls, things are different," he noted. "About 20 years ago, in a visionary move ahead of its time, this city voted to add another option to the market and invest in a community broadband network. Really smart thing you guys did."

The President said Cedar Falls is "Iowa's first gigabit city," meaning it is as fast as some of the fastest cities in the world.

"You are almost 100 times faster than the national average," Obama noted. "Here in America, you don't have to be the biggest community to do really big things. You just have to have some vision."

"In too many places across America, some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors," he said, adding that too many states have laws hindering competition. "Today I'm saying, we're going to change that. Enough is enough."

Obama said he's "on the side of competition" when it comes to community broadband.

He also said he will direct federal agencies to eliminate regulations that slow broadband. The Commerce Department will help local communities. This summer, Obama said he will host a broad summit in Washington this summer.

He wrapped up the speech and shook hands for a few minutes before heading out.

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President Obama is currently giving his remarks about Cedar Falls leading the nation in broadband Internet access live.

The President was introduced by Marc Reifenrath, the president of Spinutech, a Cedar Falls-based web design and digital strategy agency he founded with two friends 15 years ago as a junior at the University of Northern Iowa.

Spinutech's access to high speed broadband has helped their business grow and flourish.

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President Barack Obama received a demonstration on fiber optics splicing that lasted about 5 minutes, prior to his speech.

At about 2:25 p.m., Obama entered a garage at the Cedar Falls Utilities complex. There was a small table in the middle of the room where he watched the fiber optic splicing demonstration on a utility truck.

He was joined by Secretary Penny Pritzker. The demonstration was given by Robert Houlihan, Chief Technology Officer at Cedar Falls Utilities, and David Schilling, Communications Services Manager at Cedar Falls Utilities.

"What do we got here? What's going on?" the President said to Houlihan and Schilling as he walked toward the table.

Schilling explained that the community knew it needed to upgrade its broadband infrastructure. Obama shook his head 'yes' throughout the conversation.

Then, the two men began the actual splicing process, which Obama and Pritzker watched intently. It lasted only a minute or so, and POTUS exclaimed "Success!" when it was over.

The press was then led out of the garage and into a larger room, with a small stage and a sizable crowd.

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The President's motorcade is now on its way to Cedar Falls Utilities, where President Obama is scheduled to take a tour of the facility and make remarks about Cedar Falls leading the nation in broadband Internet access.

In Cedar Falls, Obama will talk about what the Cedar Falls community has done to improve broadband access.

"The president believes the federal government should do more to give more communities across the country the opportunity to do something similar," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said to reporters during the flight to Waterloo.

Cedar Falls has some of the fastest internet in the country, Earnest said. "It's much faster than the broadband we even have in DC."

He explained that Cedar Falls essentially created a public utility to provide faster broadband internet at a cheaper price, creating new competition for internet service providers.

"Ultimately what we're talking about here is competition … what the president is suggesting is communities, particularly those communities served by essentially a cable monopoly or a internet provider monopoly, should work together to introduce an additional option," Earnest said.

"The president has time and time again come down on the side of customers and consumers," Earnest said.

But Earnest stressed the president is not forcing government action on this. He merely wants to introduce more competition.

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Air Force One has arrived at the Waterloo Regional Airport.

President Obama's plane touched down in the Cedar Valley at 1:53 p.m. Obama emerged from the plane at around 2 p.m. He was joined by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

He will soon travel to Cedar Falls Utilities to begin a tour of the facility and view a fiber optic splicing demonstration.

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President Obama left Washington, D.C., at approximately 11:45 a.m. Wednesday central time.

Air Force One was originally scheduled to leave at 11:15 a.m. Sources tell KWWL the plane will make up time in the air.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Here is what we know about President Obama's visit to Cedar Falls on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

All times are approximate and subject to change.

11 a.m.: The President departs from the White House.

11:15 a.m.: The President departs from Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One.

1:45 p.m.: The President arrives at the Waterloo Regional Airport in Waterloo.

2:25 p.m.: The President attends a fiber optic splicing demonstration at Cedar Falls Utilities in Cedar Falls.

2:40 p.m.: The President delivers remarks laying out new steps to increase access to affordable, high-speed broadband across the country at Cedar Falls Utilities. The remarks are invitation-only and closed to the public.

3:30 p.m.: The President departs from Waterloo Regional Airport.

If you would like to share photos and video you take of any part of the president's visit, send them to share@kwwl.com, upload them to Twitter and tag @kwwl or use the hashtag #ObamaInIA to share with KWWL.
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