Guest Blog by John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development.
I had the pleasure of addressing the National Conference of Black Mayors 2011 Legislative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. today. I focused on what the Obama administration is doing to grow local economic ecosystems and help create jobs, particularly in manufacturing.
The summit of almost 40 mayors from across the nation was a great opportunity for intergovernmental collaboration and provided an excellent platform to share best practices and discuss the challenges of creating jobs and increasing competitiveness.
As a former mayor myself, I understood the pressing issues facing these leaders. They are the same issues the Obama administration is aggressively tackling at the federal level. And they all boil down to creating more jobs, particularly in manufacturing.
The manufacturing sector currently employs over 11 million Americans, providing good-paying jobs for millions of families. Preparing Americans to enter into the manufacturing sector will not only strengthen the economy and put folks back to work, it’s critical to our nation’s success as we compete in a 21st century global economy.
I stressed that manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with innovation. We can no longer focus on the “build it and they will come” mentality of our predecessors. We cannot continue to focus on competition only between our cities and states. These strategies won’t work in the global economy of the 21st century. We must now focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as drivers of regionally-focused strategies to make our communities competitive.
That’s why President Obama is investing in the research and technology that will lead to the new ideas and new industries of the future and supporting initiatives to build new roads and bridges and manufacture new products right here in America.
The administration has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to domestic manufacturing. The president has sought to revitalize domestic manufacturing by making investments in the Recovery Act and STEM education, providing businesses full expensing of capital investments, offering support to small businesses through the Small Business Lending Fund, and spearheading an initiative to double American exports over the next five years.