Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, International Trade Administration
It’s always good to be back in my hometown of Tampa, Florida.
This morning, I was proud to participate in a powerful and productive discussion at a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit, which took place at the University of Tampa. It was another great opportunity for Obama administration officials and community leaders to exchange thoughts and perspectives about the challenges currently facing our nation.
Although a number of topics were discussed, there was one that was near the top of everybody’s agenda—the economy.
Sure, there’s been a lot of good news lately; all of us were very encouraged by today’s jobs report which showed that 257,000 private sector jobs were created in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.
Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the United States has had 23 straight months of private sector growth, for a total of 3.7 million jobs over that period.
But, there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that everybody who wants a job can get one.
On a personal note, during my keynote remarks, I told the crowd that the Tampa community “provided a path for me, a kid from Riverside Heights, to reach new heights, and ultimately work for the President of the United States. And, I want future generations to have that same opportunity.”
To ensure that these opportunities are available, and reach all communities, we can’t go back to the days when economic growth was fueled by bubbles. Instead, as President Obama said during his State of the Union, we’ve got to have an economy—built to last.
I told participants that an economy built to last depends on a new era of American energy, providing American workers with the skills to succeed, a renewal of American values like fairness for all, and support of manufacturing.
In particular, I stressed the importance of manufacturing. It’s a sector which has traditionally been important for the Latino community, as well as the middle class. By supporting U.S. manufacturers, we can help ensure that they build their products here in America—with American workers.
And, as the Under Secretary for International Trade, I pledged to do all I can to help these businesses sell their American-made products around the globe.
Why? Because U.S. exports impacts jobs, businesses and communities.
I stand ready to assist businesses here at home by helping them sell their stuff overseas. That will be my main message throughout my visit in Florida. It’s going to be a busy couple of days.
While in Tampa, I will also be leading a White House Business Council event with local business leaders. These forums are an excellent platform for open discussions. Collaborating with business, state and local leaders is vital to strengthening our economy, and providing new opportunities for business owners and employees alike.
On Monday, I will be signing a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) along with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa business and community leaders, formalizing a strategic partnership. With the President’s National Export Initiative in mind, the signatories of the MOI are agreeing to enhance export promotion, education, and expansion efforts. Tampa boasts the state’s largest port, and exports are an important part of our road to recovery.
Then on Tuesday, I will be concluding my trip with a keynote speech at Florida’s International Day luncheon at Florida State University in Tallahassee. This event will focus on the importance of U.S. trade within the Western Hemisphere, and I look forward to joining with many Floridians to discuss these timely issues.
Just last week, President Obama laid out his plans for rebuilding the middle class and strengthening our communities. I am looking forward to hearing from communities across Florida about how we can work together to build an America that is built to last.