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PORTLAND -- President Obama s State of the Union speech was followed closely by many in the Northwest.

One of those key people had a seat right next to Michelle Obama. The President invited Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to attend the State of the Union because of his work on health care reform.

The President understands the value of partnering with states to drive innovation, and it's gratifying for our efforts here in Oregon to be recognized, Kitzhaber said in a statement released by his office Tuesday.

Portland State University geology professor Andrew Fountain hoped to hear a message that includes the environment.

The glaciers have continued to retreat. They've been retreating since about 1900. And they've accelerated their retreat in just the last 10 years or so, he said.

He wants to see the president push government agencies to to focus on climate change.

What I hope the president talks about is at least getting the federal agencies together to address these problems, Fountain said.

Oregon business leaders watched too.

Provide us more certainty, said Rob Cornilles, spokesman for Esco Corp. The Portland-based company makes parts for heavy equipment used in mining and construction and elsewhere. It employs 1,000 workers in Portland and 3,500 around the world.

I think Esco Corporation, like employers all over the state, are hoping that we have a real sense tonight that our President is going to lead us toward economic recovery with specifics that will motivate businesses to invest and get people to do what they do best, and that is produce, Cornilles said.

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