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Remarks at Columbus Economic Development Roundtable, Columbus, Ohio

Friday, January 27, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at Columbus Economic Development Roundtable, Columbus, Ohio

Thank you, Henry (Cialone), for that kind introduction.

We had a great morning. I toured a lab and other facilities at Entrotech with Paula Brooks, the president of your county Board of Commissioners.

Entrotech hires some of the best people coming out of Ohio State’s engineering college. Then, they commercialize new discoveries in areas like advanced materials and biomedicine.

And now, it’s great to be here at EWI where engineers, scientists, and experts come together to solve tough production problems for American manufacturers.

I want to thank the representatives from Senator Brown’s office, who are here today. And, of course, it’s good to be with local business and community leaders, including the Columbus Business Partnership.

Over the years, Ohio has fostered many great companies that are built to last.  It’s now time for us to ensure that the American economy as a whole is also built to last.

Under the president’s leadership, we have already added 3.2 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months. In 2011, we added the most since 2005. We need to build on that momentum.

For Ohio, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.6 percent in 2009 to 8.1 percent last month. It’s lower here in Columbus. And even though that’s below the national average, we need Ohio employers to drive those numbers down further and more create jobs.

As you heard in the State of the Union address, that’s where the president is focused.

Manufacturing is at the top of his list. It’s at the top of our list at Commerce, too. And the reason is jobs.

Today, over 11 million Americans have manufacturing jobs. Over the last two years, manufacturing has added more than 330,000 jobs, the biggest jump since the '90s.

Ohio has a long history of leadership in manufacturing. So today, we want you to keep building it here, and selling it everywhere.

That’s why the president called for us to stop giving tax breaks for businesses that outsource, start providing relief for those that bring them back, and lower tax rates for manufacturers, especially high-tech manufacturers.

The key is to make sure that businesses like yours have the tools they need to succeed.

At Commerce, we are focused on three areas in particular: advanced manufacturing, exporting, and U.S. investment.

One: In regard to advanced manufacturing. . . we want to help an advanced manufacturer link up with a local college to train their future workforce. Too many of these good-paying jobs are unfilled.

Two: With regard to exporting. . . we want to help businesses get export loans, recruit foreign buyers through our network in 80 countries, and vigorously enforce our trade laws. We’re now on track to achieve the president’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. We remain focused on that.

Three: With regard to U.S. investment. . . we rolled out a new initiative–SelectUSA. We’re training our commercial service officers in over 100 U.S. cities to help not just drive American exports, but also increase foreign investment here.

We want to build on the insourcing trend that we see of bringing jobs back to our country. The fact is, CEOs have a choice about where to invest. We need to make sure that cities like Columbus are as innovative, competitive, and attractive as possible.

Finally, I know we have community leaders here, so I want to just say a word about education and training.

Consider this: In recent years, only about 13 percent of U.S. college graduates got degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. This is much lower than other countries like Korea and Germany, at 25 percent.

We need to reverse that trend to make sure that our best and brightest will either get hired by America’s cutting-edge companies–or start a business of their own.

Overall, it’s clear that both government and the private sector have responsibilities to help American businesses start, grow and succeed–including investments in basic research and infrastructure.

Other countries face the troubled global economy that we do, but they’re not backing down. They’re investing in emerging industries and growth opportunities to increase their market share wherever they can.

We can’t back down either. We need to work across government, with the private sector, and with other community leaders like you to create a very clear and competitive strategy for growth.

My commitment is that we will continue to provide energetic, tireless and effective support to help businesses in Ohio and across the country both compete. . . and win. 

Thank you.