KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Ollie Gates has been a barbecue king and civic mover-and-shaker in Kansas City for more than four decades, and this week he added the title of "presidential adviser" to his resume after meeting with President Barack Obama about the economy.
Gates, along with 13 other African-American business leaders from across the nation, met with Obama on Tuesday morning. He says that he told the president that to stimulate the economy, you have to put money back in people's pockets.
"I had about two-three minutes to get my point across," said Gates. He says that he isn't used to talking fast, but in his two minute presentation to the president he focused on the importance of sending stimulus dollars to parts of the city that need it most.
"Here's how I would do it, with a sales tax-free zone where they don't have to pay sales tax, which allows them in Kansas City to buy 10 percent cheaper than anywhere else that area. (It) would have instant growth, because business would come to that area ," said Gates.
U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II organized the meeting, because he says that business leaders are experts in job creation.
"We have to bring new ideas and new innovations and new energy to the table," said Cleaver.
The unemployment rate among African-Americans is now almost double the national average. Gates says that it's time to focus on bringing jobs to those areas of the city where people need the work.
"To get flow of cash, because they live from paycheck to paycheck," said Gates. "So that's the group that I'm concentrating on."
Gates says that he enjoyed the meeting with the President, and felt like Obama listened to everyone's ideas - including Gates' ideas about barbecue.
"I chided him a bit about understanding what Gates is in Kansas City," said Gates with a laugh. "He said, 'Where is it?'"