Business
3:35 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Wilmington Readies For Glenn Beck Visit

When Glenn Beck tells the story of Wilmington, it's a town like Bedford Falls, from the holiday movie classic, "It's A Wonderful Life". He's in Wilmington today to showcase, what he calls, a town that gets it', one built on self reliance in the face of economic devastation.

"And this town hasn't taken any money from the government. They don't want any money from the government. They don't want any money. And I ask them why? They say God will provide. If we have faith, he will provide. We don't need it from the government," says Beck on his show.

Chris Schock with the Executive Director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission tells the story differently.

"We've received federal aid. We're searching for federal aid. We have not and I can't imagine would ever turn down federal aid on principle. Our community needs those funds," says Schock.

But he believes that even though they've gotten federal funds, the town hasn't received any special treatment, "The main story to me and I guess to him too because of what he's focusing on is that the future of the town is in the town's hands. That is a true statement."

Schock says Glenn Beck is also doing something that could mean very good news for local businesses. He's encouraging his fans to go to Wilmington and to shop there.

"This is actually putting people back to work," says Dan Stewart. He works at Books N' More, where Beck will be doing a book signing. They've ordered 2000 of Beck's books and hope to sell every one.

"Well, to be honest about it, I didn't know who the man was. I knew I had heard the name. I heard he had a talk show. I'm not into talk radio at all. But this is the first of the celebrity people in my opinion that is coming to Wilmington that are doing something to help the community more than just handing stuff out," says Stewart.

People like Rachel Ray and Jay Leno have come to Wilmington in the past. Stewart appreciates them coming but what Glenn Beck is doing, he says, is helping him personally. His daughter, Jennifer, owns Jen's Deli which adjoins Books N' More.

"When he announced that he was coming I had a tear in my eye," says Jennifer Stewart. She gets emotional thinking about how she used to deliver food to the airpark.

Her business has been struggling since the closure but she believes that this Christmas will be better because of Beck's visit, even though there is some risk involved.

"I have to order meats and cheeses from Boar's Head. I have to order my typical orders, coffee, syrup, cheese cakes order, everything. That is a lot of money upfront. It's a little nerve wracking and kind of scary and you just hope you'll get your return back," says Stewart.

A lot of businesses are taking risk. But Mark Rembert with Energize Clinton County is optimistic. His group is leading a buy-local campaign, which is doing better than it did last year, even before Beck's visit.

"We can scream and yell and talk about buying local all the time," says Rembert, "But that will only take things so far and sometimes having an influential charismatic voice reiterate that gets people to a higher level of understanding than we could have taken them."

Now, there's an online shopping website, too, to capitalize on all the publicity.

"To think that this community has a virtual store where people can support local business online like they were shopping at Amazon is revolutionary," says Taylor Stuckert, co-founder of Energize Clinton County.

Stuckert says no matter the politics of a figure like Glenn Beck, Wilmington stands to benefit from the national attention. And as far as the comparison to "It's Wonderful Life", he's OK with that, too.

"It's a Wonderful Life was one of my favorite movies growing up," says Stuckert, "I sense some irony that Potter was a banker and not the government. But I think the story that comes out to me is the story that we've been trying to preach here, too. It's about a community working together."

Glenn Beck is spending the entire day in Wilmington. In addition to the book signing, he is performing a live show at the Murphy Theater to a sold-out crowd.