Open for Business Event in Central Ohio


Monday, November 18, 2013

It is great to be here in Westerville and the Columbus area.  The Buckeyes are having another great year – undefeated.  Congratulations.

I want to thank everyone here at Lake Shore Cryotronics.

I took a tour and saw how your high-tech sensors are built… 

And I also saw the hanging flags that represent your customers around the world.

This is the perfect place to talk about how the president and I are focused on supporting businesses and workers like you… as you drive innovation and competitiveness… strengthen our economy… and create even more jobs in this community.

When I came on board as Secretary 4 months ago, I hung a sign on the door to my office.  It says, “Open for Business.”

To me, that simple phrase captures it all… 

  • … that we are focused on our most important customer – businesses in Amerca…
  • … that the Obama administration is partnering with the private sector as you continue to lead us to full economic recovery –
    the president’s top priority since he took office in 2009.

We have already come a long way:

  • Our GDP has grown for 10 straight quarters…
  • The auto industry is profitable once again… 
  • The housing market is coming back…
  • Exports are up $600 billion since 2009…
  • Our deficits have been cut in half…
  • And in the past 44 months, our businesses – led by people like you – have created 7.8 million jobs.

While we need to put even more Americans back to work and lift incomes… this momentum shows that our firms are positioned – more than ever before – to take the lead in the global economy. 

It is absolutely clear. 

We are ready to compete.

America is Open for Business. 

I have met hundreds of CEOs in recent months. 

My question for all business leaders is simple:  How can we continue to set the conditions for firms in the U.S. to grow and hire?

First and foremost, everyone agrees that the manufactured crises coming out of Washington must stop. 

The shutdown and the debt-limit brinksmanship hurt our businesses, our economy, and job creation.

We cannot afford any more self-inflicted wounds.

Instead, we need to look at the ways that government can work closely with industry to set the stage for American businesses to thrive.

That is what I’d like to talk with you about today…

  • investments we need to make here at home (in areas like infrastructure and innovation…)
  • the importance of fostering a strong workforce (through skills training and immigration reform…)
  • and ensuring our leadership in the global economy (through trade and investment…)

First, we know we need to invest in infrastructure. 

Under the president’s leadership, we have improved 350,000 miles of roads, 6,000 miles of rail, and 20,000 bridges.

However, our nation has deferred trillions of dollars in infrastructure investment. 

In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives our country a D+ grade for infrastructure.

With interest rates still low, we need to put more construction crews back to work building and modernizing our transportation hubs and links.

The long-term benefits are clear: more efficient movement of goods… stronger exports… and more competitive businesses overall.

Just as important, we must continue to build our digital infrastructure.

For our part, the Commerce Department has deployed more than 100,000 miles of broadband since 2009.   This is bringing more opportunity to hundreds of rural and underserved communities in every corner of America.

Our country and the State of Ohio need it all – from bridges to broadband. 

The president’s plan would invest $50 billion dollars – right now – in the backlog of maintenance projects. We call it “Fix-it-First.”

In addition, we believe that the private sector can play a stronger role in infrastructure investment. 

We cannot wait any longer.  We must unlock more capital for the infrastructure improvements that America needs now.

We also need to invest in R&D and innovation. 

I just announced that innovation is one of our new priorities at the Commerce Department as part of our Open for Business Agenda.

Lake Shore Cryotronics often works with scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology – part of the Commerce Department...

  • Researchers at NIST collaborate with Lake Shore to build customized equipment for NIST labs...
  • NIST then uses that equipment to develop new standards and protocols – advances that benefit industry more broadly.

The president understands that those partnerships are important.

And he understands that we need to invest more heavily in R&D at places like NIST.   In fact, he has called on Congress to double federal funding for R&D.

But we can’t stop there. 

We need even more public-private partnerships that drive innovation.

Let me give one example – the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (N-N-M-I).

Our country’s top manufacturing CEOs and university presidents developed this idea. 

They saw the potential of bringing together the best minds from academia, the private sector and government:

  • to work on the most challenging opportunities…
  • to achieve more scientific breakthroughs…
  • and to translate those discoveries into marketable ideas.

N-N-M-I institutes align a region’s assets around an emerging technology – a technology that will improve both WHAT we make and HOW we make it.

Already, we launched our first pilot institute here in Ohio – focused on 3D printing.

Columbus-based EWI is one of the partners.  The Commerce Department awarded EWI $5 million dollars in September to test the properties of materials made through 3D printing.

Soon, the federal government will launch three more pilots in lightweight metals, power electronics, and digital manufacturing and design. 

The president has called for up to 45 of these institutes, and he highlighted this proposal in Cleveland just last week.

I, personally, was on Capitol Hill last week with Senator Brown, who has introduced legislation along with Senator Blunt (of Missouri) to build this Network. 

It was my first hearing before Congress as Secretary.  I voiced the administration’s support for this bi-partisan proposal, which is gaining co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

These are cutting-edge technologies in which the United States must compete and lead. 

Other countries are making major investments in manufacturing innovation…

To win the future, we need to lead the next wave of new industries and technologies – right here at home.

But all the best technologies in the world are worthless unless we have a workforce that can bring these cutting-edge products to market and work to continuously improve them.

Lake Shore clearly understands this.  You have a highly educated and skilled workforce…

And you reach out to high school students to spark their interest in science and engineering, which is wonderful.

As the president said last week, “We’ve got to do everything we can to prepare our children and our workers for the competition that they’re going to face.” 

I could not agree more.

Columbus 2020’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy asks this question:

“Can this region supply the long-term workforce needed to serve: existing businesses… new companies locating in the region… and
new, high-growth enterprises?”

This is the question that communities throughout the country should be asking themselves. 

In my first four months as Secretary, the most common concern that I have heard from CEOs is finding workers with the skills they need to help their businesses grow.

The fact is, too many jobs are going unfilled at a time when millions of Americans are still looking for work. 

We simply must make better connections between what businesses need… and what our training institutions provide.

For this reason, I just announced that – for the first time ever – the Commerce Department is making skills a top priority. 

In coordination with the White House, the departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education are joining forces. 

Together, we are exploring how to better align federal funding for workforce development to support demand-driven skills training.

For example, the Commerce Department will emphasize industry-led training for our partners in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership – which has a presence throughout the state of Ohio.

We want to hear how those centers are helping small manufacturers meet their workforce training needs.  And we want to share the best practices they discover.

I have already met with many CEOs who are leading the way on this very issue. 

  • Some of them have partnered across their industry to address the skills gap. 
  • Others are working with community colleges to develop curricula and broadly-recognized credentials.

My team will continue to help operationalize and act on the best ideas that come from business communities like yours. 

After all, a globally competitive economy requires a globally competitive workforce.

Let me mention one more area related to our workforce, because so many CEOs are speaking up and getting involved in this issue – immigration reform. 

The fact is, about 40 percent of the Fortune 500 were started by first or second generation Americans. And nearly one-fifth of the U.S. workforce is foreign-born.

The immigration bill that passed the Senate will expand temporary and high-skilled immigration programs – programs that businesses need now. 

Plus the bill provides a green card to masters and Ph.D. students who graduate with STEM degrees.

I know that Lake Shore has dozens of employees who hold advanced degrees.

It is mind-boggling to think that places like The Ohio State University can attract some of the world’s brightest students, give them a top-notch education, and then we force these potential innovators and job creators to leave.

That is unacceptable.

We need folks in Washington to wake up to the fact that we are in a global competition for talent. 

Estimates show that immigration reform could create over 10,000 new jobs in Ohio next year and boost this state’s economy by nearly $1 billion dollars.  This should be at the top of our to-do list.

I encourage you to make your voice heard on this issue.

Beyond making key investments… and investing in our workers… We must also continue to ensure America’s leadership in the global economy. 

That is why another major priority of the Commerce Department’s Open for Business Agenda is trade and investment. 

It is great to be at a company where over half of your sales are international.

I saw a news story from a few weeks ago with this headline “Central Ohio Business Making Inroads in Global Markets.”

That is good news.  The story cited that goods and services exports out of Central Ohio have grown to over $9 billion… and job growth from exports has jumped 17 percent over the past 7 years in this region.

This is one of America’s top 50 export markets.

To build on that, Columbus 2020 has joined the Metro Export Initiative, which the Commerce Department launched with the Brookings Institution.

In that news article, Columbus 2020’s CEO Kenny McDonald made a great point. 

He said the biggest challenge is developing an export culture –to help more companies understand how to enter global markets and be successful.

I agree completely.  With 95 percent of consumer residing outside the United States, it is clear that trade must become a bigger part of the DNA of our economy.

Already, the president’s National Export Initiative – the NEI – has achieved impressive results…

  • We hit a record $2.2 trillion dollars in exports last year, up $600 billion dollars from 2009. 
  • Nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009.

However, we are still a nation that under-exports.  What that means is too few of our firms are selling goods and services into too few global markets.

That is why my team is gearing up to launch NEI 2.0.  We want to help more communities become globally fluent.

Working closely with industry, we must answer several key questions…

  • Over the past decade, small businesses’ contribution to our exports has grown from one-fourth to one-third.  

    • How can we continue to broaden our base of exporters?
  • Some states and cities still think that their local economies will do just fine without looking abroad.  
    • How can we help them realize – like you have – that exporting is critical not just to survive but to flourish?
  • And, as our services sector thrives…
    • How can we build on America’s unique advantage to attract more travel and tourism?
    • And how can we expand the perception of Made in America from just a shipping container… to also include a businesswoman with a Passport, a briefcase, and a consulting contract?

NEI 2.0 will help answer these questions.

Also in regards to exporting, I am working to ensure strong enforcement of trade rules… and a level playing field for our workers…

And, as our country’s Chief Commercial Advocate, I am doing everything I can to open more doors for American goods and services.

For example, my team is working with the United States Trade Representative’s Office to deliver a high-standard Trans Pacific Partnership.  

We envision TPP as the foundation for a broader free-trade pact throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Also, Commerce Department officials went to Brussels last week for the second round of talks with the EU on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – T-TIP.

Last year, America’s 20 free trade partners attracted 46 percent of American exports, even though they only represented 13 percent of global GDP…

Imagine our potential when the TPP and T-TIP link us with 33 more countries totaling over 60 percent of the world’s GDP.

Suffice it to say that companies like this will be busier than ever. 

You might need to order more flags for your hallway here.

Of course, we should also focus on America’s unparalleled position to attract more inbound investment – another area where Columbus 2020 is leading the charge.

According to their estimates, about 39,000 people in Central Ohio get up and go to work each day at foreign-owned companies that have a presence here.

I believe that will grow – because we have entered a unique era of opportunity. 

Global businesses want to be here in the United States because of our rule of law, our intellectual property protections, our stable financial markets, our universities, our strong consumer base, and the ingenuity of our people.

On top of that, key trends are working in our favor, such as low-cost and abundant energy – crucial to manufacturers that are thinking about expanding to a place like Ohio.

The president knew we needed to take full advantage of this moment when he launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in 2011.  

Ever since then, SelectUSA has been working with foreign CEOs and economic development groups across the country to put even more deals in the pipeline.

In fact, just three weeks ago, 1,300 leaders from 60 countries converged on DC for the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit.  I know that Columbus was well-represented at the “JobsOhio” booth on the exhibit floor which I visited.

The demand for our summit was overwhelming, and the demand to invest in the United States is deep.

We announced that we are expanding and enhancing SelectUSA to help even more businesses grow their presence here in America.

The feedback from the summit made it clear.  SelectUSA provides a powerful bang for our taxpayers’ buck.

Today we are in a global competition for investments. 

That is why Congress should fully fund SelectUSA. 

The president had it right when he said: “When you bet on America, that bet pays off.”

Let me close with a commitment. 

I will continue to speak up as the voice for business on all of the top priorities that affect our private sector…

  • from infrastructure… and innovation
  • to skills… and immigration reform…
  • to trade and investment – areas I highlighted today.

And I will not stop there.  I will also call for:

  • business tax reform to help our companies compete globally…
  • cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary regulatory costs wherever possible…
  • and providing more data from the federal government to help businesses make smart decisions – yet another key part of our Open for Business agenda.

Yes, it is time to get things done.

We have an opportunity right now to work together to set the conditions for a vibrant, 21st century economy and the good jobs that come with it. 

My department will be responsive, customer-focused, and outcomes-driven… And we will demand a strong return on investment just like Ohio businesses do.

That sign on my door is more than just a symbol. 

I want everyone who steps in – from a CEO… to a foreign leader… to an intern – to know that sign reflects the core values of America’s businesses as well as the core values of this administration and our Department.

Yes, we are OPEN for BUSINESS. Thank you all.

Last updated: 2016-05-19 12:49

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