New Glarus Brewery founder and president Deb Carey was on Capitol Hill Tuesday night sitting in first lady Michelle Obama's box during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
Carey was one of 15 small businesses who met with Obama at the White House in November about the then-looming fiscal cliff. Carey said she didn't know that the president might be sitting in when she agreed to come to Washington, D.C., for the meeting.
Carey told WISC-TV the White House asked her to come out for the State of the Union because of her participation in the White House business council. She said she's there to represent issues Obama feels strongly about.
She said the event includes a reception at the White House, a tour of the residence and entertainment in the White House theater.
By phone from Washington, D.C., Carey said she's honored to get the invitation.
"To represent small businesses is a big honor for me," Carey said. "Small business is the engine of our economy. I'm really proud of what Dan and I have built. I love Wisconsin, and so I'm also proud that Wisconsin is getting a little bit of national stage here."
Carey said she paid for the trip herself.
The invitation is putting New Glarus in the spotlight. Jeremy Bigler, bartender at Puempel's Olde Tavern, said his one cardinal rule at work is not to talk politics or religion, but he's not shy about saying how much New Glarus Brewing's expansion has meant to the village by bringing tourists in from out of town who stay to shop and eat.
"With Deb being on the State of the Union tonight, it's been a hot topic around town today, but yet I'm not going to express my own politics. It'll help the town, give it national exposure. I think most of the business owners are probably pretty excited about that," Bigler said.
The president focused a lot of his speech on small businesses and the economy, saying political brinksmanship and jumping from one crisis to the next will kill business confidence.
But Obama said that alone is not a job-creating plan. Instead, the president pushed for high-tech manufacturing hubs