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Opinion Editorial-McClatchy-Tribune Information Services-"Manufacturing, exporting showing growth"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Opinion Editorial, McClatchey-Tribune Information Services
"Manufacturing, exporting showing growth"

Over the last month, I have met with manufacturers who make everything from carbon-fiber products to advanced batteries. It is great to hear stories of American businesses that are building things here, and selling their products everywhere.

The best part is, they are creating jobs.

Of the 257,000 private-sector jobs created last month, 50,000 were in manufacturing. During the last two years, more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been created - the biggest jump since the 1990s.

We need to build on this momentum and make sure that every American worker who wants a job can find a job.

The president's new federal budget supports this in a number of ways.

Exports are a great example. U.S. exports grew by 14.5 percent in 2011 to a record $2.1 trillion. This keeps America on track to reach our National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

Under the new 2013 budget, we will ensure that more American businesses - both large and small - have the tools and the connections they need to sell their goods and services in fast-growing international markets. That's important, because 95 percent of the world's consumers don't live in the United States.

And these are good jobs. Export-related jobs pay about 13 percent to 18 percent more than the national average.

We also need to encourage more investment in the United States. Many CEOs are seeing increasing value in America's cutting-edge research, strong supply chains and talented workforce.

The president and I recently met with some CEOs of American businesses who are bringing jobs back to the United States - a trend we call "in-sourcing." We need to see more of that.

At the same time, we also will work to attract more investment from foreign companies. That's why the Commerce Department - through an initiative called SelectUSA - is training more commercial service officers in countries around the world to promote America as the best place for companies to put their facilities and to hire workers. The 2013 budget gives a significant boost to SelectUSA.

Beyond exports and investment, there are common-sense steps we can take to help businesses create jobs here at home, too. For example, we need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and start providing more incentives to businesses that keep jobs here.

Our tax code currently isn't working like that. Under the new budget, it will.

Looking to the future, the federal budget will support fast-growing fields like advanced manufacturing. The new budget includes $2.2 billion overall for advanced manufacturing research and development, a 19 percent increase over 2012. This is a critical investment to help America stay at the cutting-edge and drive innovation in the 21st century.

And finally, with millions of Americans out of work, we shouldn't have the problem of good jobs going unfilled. Today, too many employers - including many manufacturers - simply can't find the right people with the right skill sets. The new budget proposes a new Community College to Career Fund that will help forge partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train 2 million workers for good-paying jobs in high-growth and high-demand industries, including advanced manufacturing.

I strongly believe that when American manufacturers - and all American businesses - are given a fair shot, they can compete, they can win, and they can create jobs. That's what the administration has been focused on for the last three years - and our commitment is stronger today than ever.

Let's put aside politics and do everything we can to build on the signs of strength we are seeing in the economy. If we're successful, we will ensure that America's future is indeed built to last.