R. Quintus Anderson, the president of the Aarque Steel Corp., in Jamestown, N. Y., is coming to Washington with the firm belief that the best approach to unemployment is for government to increase the incentives that would make business take the risks that create jobs. "I'm obviously no economic liberal," he says.
Lester A. Anderson, the former Mayor of Eugene, Ore., is heading for the same meeing to express the view that more assistance for the cities may not help unless there is first better planning and a restructuring of governments in the metropolita areas.
Beverly A. Anderson, of Cherokee, Iowa, a past president of the Iowa Association of Counties, is coming because she is worried about imports forcing the closing of small manufacturers plants in rural areas like hers.
Clyde Anderson, an El Paso, Tex., commissioner, is also worried about unemployment, but blames it on illegal immigrants.
Down at the other end of the alphabet, Willis Zagravich, a steelworkers union president from Greenwood, Ind., and Margaret Zimmerman, who works for a downtown real estate developer in Chattanooga, Tenn., are ready to add their voices to the discussion.
The magnet for these six, plus 494 other delegates, is the White House Conference on Balanced National Growth and Economic Development, which will involve President Carter and other leaders of the administration and Congress is four days of debate from Jan. 29 through Feb. 2.
The agenda of the conference focuses on four of the toughest economic and social issues before the country:
The need for economic growth and the constraints on growth imposed by energy, water and environmental concerns.
The problem of hard-core unemployment and the choice of trying to move people to jobs or jobs to people.
The fiscal problems of the cities and the responsibility, if any, of their suburbs, the states and the federal government to come to their aid.
And the conflict among the regions for federal contracts and federal contracts and federal aid, symbolized by the "Sunbelt" vs. the "Frostbelt" struggle.
The conference comes at a time when the Carter administration and Congress are wrestling with the issues of energy, jobs, urban problems and economic growth. It is viewed with either anticipation or apprehension by policymakers, depending on their attitude toward a sharply focused public debate on the questions they are trying to negotiate among themselves.
There is little doubt that the program planned by conference director Michael K. Koleda, former vice president of the National Planning Association, will provide sparks of controversy.
The leadoff speakers in the session on energy, growth and the environment, for example, are Henry Ford II, a leading industrialist, and Rep, Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz.), a leading environmentalist.
The jobs session will feature Vernon Jordon of the Urban League and Reginald Jones, the chairman of General Electric.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (D) and San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell will lead off the debate on fiscal problems of the cities. And, in case the furniture has not been broken by that time, the Sunbelt-Frostbelt panel will feature Gov. George Bushbee (D) of Georgia and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D. N. Y.).
The general plan of the conference calls for half the participants to be in one of the general sessions, on these four topics, while the other delegates are meeting in small groups of 22 persons each for a more intensive discussion of these issues.
There will also be a full-day "public forum" at which representatives of outside groups and individuals can express their views on the conference issues.
President Carter is scheduled to speak at the closing conference session on Feb. 2. During the previous days, conferees will hear from Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps, Secretary of Agriculture of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Roberts Harris, as well as presidential assistants Stuart Eizenstat and Jack H. Watson Jr.
The conference was authorized by Congress in 1976, largely at the instigation of Senate Public Works Chairman Jennings Randolph (D-W. Va) and Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N. M.), a member of that committee.
It remained a kind of orphan, however, until last spring, when the Commerce Department took on the challenge, of organizing it and Koleda was named its chairman.
Within the Carter administration, there are those who think the unstated objective of the conference is to promote Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) as the lead agency for coordinating a much-expanded federal effort to spur and plan the nation's growth.
They see its recommendation to Carter as setting the stage for a proposal from the President's reorganization team, which is reliably reported leaning to Commerce and EDA as the logical gathering-place for economic development programs now scattered through Agriculture, HUD, the Small Business Administration and the rest of the government.
Such an outcome would not be displeasing to Randolph and Domenici whose Public Works Committee is the Capitol Hill home of EDA.
But it is probably far from the thoughts of the 500 delegates, three-fourths of them named by the governors of their states and the rest picked by Koleda and his associates.
They range the political spectrum from Frederick B. Dent, South Carolina textile executive and former Secretary of Commerce, to Tom Hayden, the political activist and head of the California Campaign for Economic Democracy. And they span the country from Robert Cleaves, the manager of the Portland, Maine, area development council, to Lazaras Salii, the director of economic policy in the Mariana Islands.
There are a number of union and business leaders, and many state and local elected officials. According to Koleda, "for every spender, there will be a person opposed to bigger government budgets."
The goal, he said, is "not another wish-list for submission to the President but the best airing of these issues we can get in four days."
Given the make-up of the conference, that aim may be achieved.