On Wednesday, Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in an armchair discussion with Charlotte Chamber President and CEO Bob Morgan. She highlighted the progress made in America’s economic recovery in 2014, and discussed President Obama’s plans to build on that momentum with the policies discussed in the State of the Union Address.
The evidence from 2014 is clear: for the past 58 straight months, the private sector added more than 11 million new jobs. Last year alone, 3 million jobs were created – the most since the 1990s. America’s GDP is up, while unemployment rate is down. There is no doubt that 2014 was a milestone year for the American economy.
With the economy improving, the Department of Commerce is focused on continuing the growth that occurred over the past year. During her conversation with Morgan that touched upon many of President Obama’s main priorities, Secretary Pritzker highlighted trade as a top issue on the agenda. By pushing for new trade agreements, the United States can reach new markets and create a fair environment for our companies to compete. If American businesses sell more goods and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside U.S. borders, they will grow the 11.3 million good-paying jobs here at home that are supported by exports.
Secretary Pritzker also stressed the need to invest in America’s greatest resource: its people. As business leaders look to build a workforce that meets the needs of the 21st century economy, the Administration has already invested more than $1 billion in competitive grants in 2014 for job-driven training models like apprenticeships and partnerships between community colleges and local employers.
Hosted at the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte Center City campus, the forum was attended by local business leaders as well as students. After the 45-minute discussion, Morgan took questions from the audience, and Secretary Pritzker elaborated on why infrastructure and corporate tax reform are integral to strengthening the economy.
During her trip to Charlotte, Secretary Pritzker also met with representatives from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Central Piedmont Community College, SEWW Energy, Charlotte Center City Partners, and UNC Charlotte.
As she does during many of her trips, the Secretary connected with local Commerce staff who work at the U.S. Export Assistance Centers in North Carolina and South Carolina. She thanked them for their work in connecting local companies with international buyers.
The Department’s “Open for Business Agenda” goes hand-in-hand with President Obama’s vision to empower the middle class and boost the economy, and Commerce staff, both at home and abroad, will continue working hard to make that vision a reality.