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Blog Category: State of the Union

Commerce Efforts Featured Prominently in President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Last night, the American people heard President Obama deliver a strong and clear message in his State of the Union address: that America’s resurgence is real. In his sixth address to Congress, he noted  that the economy is in the best shape since before the Great Recession. Thanks to the hard work of America’s businesses and workers – and the tough decisions made by the Administration the economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. The unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis, GDP is rising, exports are at a record high and the United States is outpacing its competitors across the globe. That news is to be celebrated, but there is more work to be done. The task now is to build on this foundation of progress; to continue a sustainable, real and lasting recovery for all Americans. 

To ensure that America continues to be the number one economy in the world, the President outlined a strong trade agenda. Pursuing new trade agreements is essential to creating more jobs, strengthening our competitiveness, and spurring our prosperity. 95 percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S.’s borders, an opportunity that no company would or should ignore. With new trade agreements, new markets will be opened to U.S. products, helping U.S. businesses reach more customers. In today’s global economy, the country’s prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and consumers beyond our borders.
 
Being able to meet the needs of millions of new customers requires the United States continue to invest in advanced manufacturing. After a decade of decline, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s and poised for increased growth in the years ahead. President Obama announced he will build on recent bipartisan legislation to strengthen manufacturing by expanding on the eight National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes already created to complete 15 Institutes by the end of his term. That puts the United States on pace for 45 institutes in the next decade. The President also highlighted a new $10 billion public-private American Made Scale-Up Fund for manufacturing start-ups, ensuring that what is invented in America can be made in America.
 

After State of the Union Secretary Lew Highlights Importance of U.S. Manufacturing and Workforce Training

Secretary Lew speaks to Virginia State University interns and research faculty during his visit to the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Prince George County, Virginia

Guest blog post by Marissa Hopkins Secreto, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the United States Department of the Treasury and Angie Martinez, Director Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.

Crossposted from Treasury Notes.

As part of President Obama’s call for creating more high-tech manufacturing jobs in his State of the Union Address last week, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew visited the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) in Prince George County, Virginia, on Friday. Secretary Lew toured CCAM’s facility and discussed the future of U.S. manufacturing and the importance of workforce training with CCAM’s business and university partners, as well as Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

“To build on the progress we have made over the last five years, we have to continue to take action to help strengthen economic growth, create jobs, and restore opportunity for all,” Secretary Lew said in statement about his visit.  “CCAM is at the forefront of expanding opportunity by bringing researchers, students, and business together to drive innovation and develop advanced manufacturing technologies.  It is also a powerful example of why this Administration’s focus on increasing job training, modernizing our education system, and creating manufacturing institutes is so important."
 
CCAM is changing the game for how we can grow manufacturing in the U.S. Their approach bridges the gap between fundamental research typically performed at universities and product development routinely performed by companies. CCAM’s members guide the research, leveraging talent and resources within CCAM and at Virginia’s top universities, through a collaborative model that enables them to pool R&D efforts to increase efficiencies. Results can then be applied directly to the factory floor, turning ideas into jobs faster and more affordably than ever before.  CCAM is just one example of the federal government’s efforts to connect universities to businesses and strengthen American manufacturing and our economy through these partnerships.

Secretary Locke visits Arc Energy in Nashua, New Hampshire

Secretary Locke speaks during a question and answer session

Yesterday, Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Hampshire and met with regional business leaders and toured Arc Energy, a renewable energy equipment manufacturer that specializes in solid state lighting technologies.

One day after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Locke reinforced the importance of strengthening America’s competitiveness by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world.  He discussed how a more competitive America will help rebuild the economy, create more jobs and prepare the country for challenges ahead.

Locke also discussed how the recently-passed tax cut package, which reduces the payroll tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and allows businesses to temporarily expense 100% of their capital investments in 2011, benefits companies like Arc Energy.  The tax cuts package provides tax relief to 800,000 people in New Hampshire and extends unemployment benefits to 12,627 residents whose benefits would have otherwise expired.

Arc Energy develops cutting-edge technologies that substantially reduce the cost of LED lighting.  It exports products to several countries, including China and Korea, and has signed multiple contracts worth several hundred million dollars in 2011.  President Obama visited Arc one year ago and since then the manufacturer has experienced significant growth – expanding its workforce by 300 percent.  Because of the industry’s expansive supply chain, for every person Arc Energy hires, roughly four to five additional jobs are created elsewhere in the United States.

Laying a Foundation to Double Our Exports, Increase Competitiveness

Today Secretary Locke wrote an op-ed posted in The Hill with a focus on how the administration and the Commerce Department are working to increase America's global competitiveness and create U.S. jobs by selling more American-made goods and services around the world.

Cross posted at The Hill

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As 2011 begins, the American economy is stronger than at any time since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

Retail sales just had their strongest quarterly gain since 2001. Private sector employment grew every single month in 2010, with the manufacturing sector posting its first increase in annual employment since 1997.

These are strong indications that the steps President Obama took to foster economic recovery are working — beginning with the Recovery Act and continuing through the December 2010 tax-cut package.

But that’s not to suggest that anyone within the administration or the Commerce Department is satisfied — not with unemployment still over 9 percent.

As we move forward, policymakers should remember that the most important contest is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future.

Making the U.S. more competitive will require us to focus on two things: supercharging innovation and selling more American-made goods and services around the world, so that U.S. firms can hire more workers and reinvest in the research and development they need to keep growing.

Although the private sector will take the lead on innovation, we can’t forget that the government has always had an important, supportive role to play, and the Commerce Department is engaged in a variety of areas.