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Remarks at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at Carngeie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Thank you, Vice President McCullough and Mayor Ravenstahl.

This morning, I met with this area’s District Export Council. Then, I toured Aquion, a company that grew out of Carnegie Mellon.

They do cutting-edge work with advanced batteries. They’re gearing up for commercial release this year.

That’s good to hear. To compete in a global economy, we need U.S. businesses to build it here and sell it everywhere. Here in Western Pennsylvania you’re creating companies that are built to last, and you’re creating good jobs, too.

Nationwide, we added 3.2 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months. Last year, we added the most since 2005. Pittsburgh has dropped from over 9 percent unemployment to less than 7 percent at the end of last year.

Today, we need to build on that momentum–and it starts with manufacturing.

The president recently asked me to co-lead the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. 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.

We need to build on that. We need 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.

This leads to my three top priorities as Secretary: advanced manufacturing, exporting, and investment in the U.S.

First, the Department of Commerce created a national office for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. We will pull together business leaders, universities and the entire federal government. We’ll support cutting-edge fields like IT, biotech, and nanotechnology. And we’ll address key problems such as too many advanced manufacturing jobs going unfilled.

My second priority is increasing U.S. exports. We are focused on doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Through the National Export Initiative, the Commerce Department is working to help businesses get tools like export financing. And our commercial officers in 80 countries are recruiting foreign buyers to make connections to American firms.

The administration is also working to reduce trade barriers and strengthen enforcement on trade rules. When American businesses compete on a level playing field, American businesses will always win. And I should just mention that there are two trade missions coming up to Saudi Arabia and Brazil in April–both focused on clean energy and energy efficiency.

My third priority is more investment in the U.S. We recently rolled out a new initiative–SelectUSA. We’re training our commercial service officers in over 100 U.S. cities to help increase investment here. We want to build on the insourcing trend of bringing jobs back to the United States.  The President and I recently met CEOs who are doing just that.

Domestic and foreign companies have a choice about where to invest.  We need to remind them that the most talented workers, the strongest supply chains, and the most innovative products are in places like Pittsburgh. Overall, we need to foster an American economy that supports entrepreneurship, innovation and competitiveness.

  • We need more young people being inspired to pursue STEM education, training, and degrees at places like Carnegie Mellon. Only 13percent of our graduates are getting STEM degrees while countries like Korea and Germany are around 25 percent. That needs to change.
  • We need more support for federal-funded research. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, we can’t “gut” investments in areas like basic research. If we do, we will let other countries win the race for the future.
  • Finally, we need to make sure that the most innovative ideas are being commercialized. One example:

Just over a year ago, our Economic Development Administration awarded six million-dollar grants to foster innovation. With the leadership of Carnegie Mellon and InnovationWorks, Pittsburgh got one of these “i6” grants. In October, they held “Demo Day” here with startups from this program: One firm called itself the “” of energy efficiency. Their business will tell consumers which energy efficiency programs will help them most.

Another firm wants to fill a niche in helping small businesses network among themselves and break into foreign markets.

It’s clear that both government and the private sector can work together help American businesses start, grow and succeed. By doing so, we can help achieve our national priorities while also creating good jobs.

Other countries face the troubled global economy that we do. They’re not backing down. They’re investing in emerging industries like clean energy to increase market share wherever they can.

We can’t back down either. We need to create a very clear and competitive strategy for growth.

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

I will now open it up to the audience for questions.