Colorado Springs, Colorado (CNN) – Hailing a metal engineering plant that received $2.3 million in stimulus funds as a small business success story, on Saturday Mitt Romney told an audience at the plant the federal recovery program "did not do the job."
Romney said the millions in federal funds granted to Springs Fabrication in Colorado Springs had not created any new jobs at the plant.
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"That stimulus he had, it did not do the job," Romney said of the plant's owner, Tom Neppl. "I mean, I understand Tom said he was working on a project that got some stimulus money. I asked, well were you able to hire more people because of that? He said no. Didn't add any more people, just more money into the system. But no more people hired."
The stimulus grant, for a project to upgrade plumbing at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, was first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Romney opened his speech to the audience of more than 1,000 people by marveling at the plant's size.
"This is the look of jobs, you know that?" he told the audience. "And American competitiveness."
Romney credited the fact that 160 people worked for the company to "the ingenuity of Tom," the owner, and said the stimulus protected government jobs but did not create private sector jobs "like it should have."
The GOP candidate signaled he would continue to attack President Barack Obama over the economy, despite some encouraging signs in the job market.
"This president came into office and said: 'OK, we're going to get this economy going by borrowing 787 billion dollars in stimulus.' And he said if we borrowed that money he would hold unemployment below 8%," Romney said. "It has not been below 8% since."
The unemployment rate edged down to 8.3% in January - a number Romney said Obama was "celebrating."
"That's still above the emergency line of 8%," he pointed out, and said small business owners, not Obama, were the cause of any economic turnaround. "He doesn't get credit for things getting better. I'm delighted things are getting better, I think they are, but the people who deserve the credit for things getting better are people like Tom who built a place like this and employed people in this great state."