by: Carl Willis Updated:
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga.,None - Several metro Atlantan's stories were offered up to shape President Obama's State of the Union Address.
Clayton County Vice Chairman Wole Ralph said he was influential in crafting part of the message thanks to a series of discussions with the speech writers.
"It was an incredible opportunity really for Clayton County, for the White House to take the time to get the understanding about what the issues
are, is incredibly phenomenal," Ralph said.
Ralph was among a small group of young leaders who shared local success stories as well as concerns with Obama's staff.
He said he offered up examples that would tie in with the president's theme of rebuilding the economy "based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share."
"We're building a juvenile justice center, police precincts, senior centers and recreation centers," Ralph said. "The reason why we're doing that is not only because we know our county needs that infrastructure but that we create jobs when we do that."
Ralph also said he helped influence the message by sharing story a from the "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren" program.
He said he used the example of two Clayton County grandparents who planned to retire, but are instead working to provide for their grandchildren.
Their daughter is away on her second tour of duty overseas.
"It's families like that that go above and beyond and stitching the fabric of what it means to be an
American," Ralph said.
He stressed the importance of citizens earning degrees and certificates to create a more educated and skillful workforce, and highlighted programs at Clayton State University.
In addition to traditional coursework, they're also training students in cargo and logistics for work at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
He said Clayton County's programs can provide a national model for what other counties can do to put people back to work.