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Remarks at Sustainable Manufacturing Tour of Matworks Company with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Beltsville, Maryland


Monday, April 19, 2010



Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Sustainable Manufacturing Tour of Matworks Company with
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Beltsville, Maryland

Good afternoon. It’s a great to be here at Matworks today, and to share the stage with Majority Leader Hoyer.

These past few years have been tough for America. But throughout, Steny has been a rock and a fantastic leader for Maryland. Working with Speaker Pelosi, he has led one of the most prolific Congresses in our nation’s history.

Early last year, he helped shepherd the passage of a Recovery Act that has now been responsible for this country keeping or creating well over 2 million jobs. And of course, he helped usher in the most substantial health-care reform in America in 40 years.

It hasn't always been easy but Steny has stuck to a core conviction that we can do better.

We can make our country work better for the American people.

And that ethic of constant improvement is something that our host, Matworks Company has gotten down to a science.

Matworks knows that when you operate more efficiently, it is good for the environment and great for your bottom line. Matworks is the nation’s leading provider of matting and specialty flooring. So if sustainable manufacturing works for them, everyone should take note.

  • By incorporating more recycled materials and redesigning the backing to its mats, Matworks saves more than $35,000 each year;
  • By replacing toxic glues and adhesives with nonhazardous substitutes, Matworks sees an annual saving of nearly $20,000;
  • And by providing environmentally friendly construction materials, Matworks helps its customers “green” their buildings and facilities.

What Matworks is doing every day is critical to its success in this increasingly competitive global economy. And it's a model we all need to take note of if we want manufacturing to be a central part of America's economic future.

This administration certainly does.

First of all, manufacturing is a vital source of middle-class jobs, as manufacturing employees make 13 percent more than the average for all other workers in America.

Manufacturing is also a major contributor to American innovation; comprising two thirds of our nation’s research and development spending.

And as this country attempts to transition to a cleaner energy economy, we're going to need companies churning out both old and new products in ways that don’t harm our environment.

The question is, how do we get more companies moving in the right direction?

President Obama has already made a significant down payment, with over $100 billion dollars worth of grants, tax cuts and incentives in the Recovery Act devoted to manufacturing investments.

But that's only the beginning. We've also got to fundamentally rethink the way we build and produce goods in this country to meet the twin imperatives of rising energy demand and reducing greenhouse gases.

And we know how to do this. The American economy is already more than twice as efficient as it was in 1970.

Building on that success is simply a matter of working with industry to implement efficiency processes that work for their businesses.

In 2007, Commerce launched its Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative to both:

  • Identify U.S. industries’ most pressing sustainability challenges;
  • And to coordinate public and private sector efforts to address those challenges.

And that’s just a small portion of our overall sustainability efforts.

We’re out on tour across the country, hosting Sustainable Manufacturing American Regional Tours, or “SMARTS”. That’s why we’re here today to promote awareness and best practices on the benefits of sustainable manufacturing.

And the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is partnering with other federal agencies and industry to help small and mid-sized companies cut costs.

This public-private effort has already reviewed more than 125 companies and found ways for them to cut $62 million in costs by reducing water and energy use, and air emissions and solid waste production.

And the return on the companies’ investment to implement these practices is estimated to be 130 to one.

And we offer the successful Manufacturing Extension Program, or “MEP”—where Commerce joins with state and local initiatives to partner with private sector companies to drive billions of dollars worth of gains in efficiency and productivity.

The MEP here in Maryland, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland, helped 82 firms save a combined $1.8 million in 2009, while helping increase sales by a combined $3.6 million.

Later today, my colleague Nicole Lamb-Hale will talk with you about the Sustainable Business Clearinghouse, which links business with government resources related to sustainable programs.

I urge all of you to talk with Nicole and to leverage the government programs she will describe.

Because helping you do more businesses is what I try to accomplish every single day. And it’s what Majority Leader Hoyer focuses on every day because when you do more business, it creates more jobs.

And right now, that continues to be the number one goal of this administration, this Congress and this country.

Thank you.