Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Westerville, Ohio yesterday to deliver a speech highlighting the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda and the Department of Commerce’s priorities. Secretary Pritzker announced a new strategic vision for the Department, the “Open for Business Agenda,” November 14. In Ohio, Secretary Pritzker toured and delivered remarks at Lake Shore Cryotronics, an international leader in the development of cryogenic temperature sensors and instrumentation.
Promoting trade and investment is a major part of Secretary Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Nationwide, America’s businesses are exporting: the United States hit a record $2.2 trillion dollars in exports last year, up $600 billion dollars from 2009 when President Obama launched his National Export Initiative. Lake Shore Cryotronics, for example, generates 60 percent of sales from exports. Nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009. But the United States still under-exports, which is why the Secretary is gearing up to launch NEI 2.0, which will aim to help more U.S. companies sell their goods and services to more markets around the world.
In order to achieve greater economic growth and create more good jobs, Secretary Pritzker talked about the need to attract more foreign investment to the United States. According to Columbus 2020, an economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, about 39,000 people in Central Ohio are employed by foreign-owned companies. But as of 2011, 5.6 million jobs nationwide million jobs are supported by foreign direct investment, supporting $437.8 billion in wages to U.S. employees. Global businesses want to be here in the United States because of our stable rule of law, intellectual property protections, solid financial markets, world-class universities, strong consumer base, and our low-cost and abundant energy. That is why President Obama launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in 2011. SelectUSA has been working with foreign CEOs and economic development groups across the country to put even more deals in the pipeline.
Secretary Pritzker said that infrastructure investments are another key part of the Administration’s economic agenda. President Obama plans to devote $50 billion to the backlog of maintenance projects, an effort called “Fix-it-First.” The Commerce Department has been also been working build the nation’s digital infrastructure, deploying more than 100,000 miles of broadband since 2009.
The Secretary also highlighted the need to invest in R&D and innovation in order to advance technology and standards that give U.S. businesses a competitive edge. One such much-needed investment is the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a network of public-private partnerships that will accelerate development of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally-competitive products. The first NNMI pilot program was launched in Ohio, focusing on additive manufacturing. President Obama wants to create up to 45 of these institutes around the country.
Secretary Pritzker reiterated her commitment to ensuring that the United States has a skilled workforce, prepared to do the jobs of the 21st century. For the first time ever, the Commerce Department is making skills a top priority. She mentioned that Columbus 2020’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is working to ensure that the region can supply the long-term workforce needs of current and future business. The Commerce Department will continue to emphasize industry-led training for partners in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which has a presence throughout the state of Ohio.
The Commerce Department is committed to working to set the conditions for a vibrant, 21st century economy and the good jobs that come with it, ensuring that the world knows that America is open for business.