Inside Ivanka Trump’s visit to Northeast Ohio

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – President Trump's daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump was in Rocky River Friday touting the GOP tax plan and its effect on the economy.

The invite-only small business town hall took place at the Rocky River Senior Center, with a few friendly questions preselected from the crowd of about 300.

“These are very important and thoughtful reforms targeted at making sure American workers and families can thrive,” Trump said.

Other panelists included U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio 16), WHO'S competing in a Republican primary for Senate.

Though not considered a campaign event, the town hall comes amid a push by top administrations to change public perceptions of the president's signature achievement ahead of this year's midterm elections.

“People need to hear more about that, what's actually happening,” Renacci said. “How it's growing the economy and helping small businesses.”

Panelists highlighted that the tax plan allows for immediate expensing for businesses and doubled the standard deduction and child tax credit.

“That’s a huge difference for a lot of families in Ohio,” Portman said.

A group of protestors outside the event chanted when Trump arrived. Democrats have argued the tax cuts unfairly favored corporations and wealthy Americans.

“I don't think these tax cuts are fair; they're not benefiting my family,” said Shannon Hoffman, of Lakewood. “A lot of my friends who have small businesses are claiming there's not been any real help to them.”

911 Driving School owner Melissa Riedl, who attended the event, said the improving economy has allowed her to hire several more employees, though hers is not among the businesses that have yet offered increased compensation or bonuses as a direct result of the tax changes.

“I think the economy has gotten a lot better, and that's probably a big chunk of why we've been able to hire more people,” Riedl said. “The tax cuts are great. I haven't seen everything of that yet. I'm hoping that's going to help us continue to grow.”

After the town hall, Trump visited Joe’s Deli, greeting diners and posing for pictures with staff.

Owners Joe and Jeanette Kanaan said the tax changes have not yet directly affected the business or led to changes in staff compensation, but it could provide flexibility to buy new equipment because it can be written off immediately. They credit the improving economy since Trump’s election for boosting business.

“People feel more comfortable with the economy, and they're spending more money, so our business is up like 20 percent since the new administration,” Jeanette Kanaan said.

More on Ivanka Trump, here.