U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, where she addressed area business leaders at a luncheon hosted by the Detroit Economic Club.
During a full day in the Motor City, Secretary Pritzker saw firsthand how the auto industry in Detroit demonstrates the resilience of American businesses. She toured the auto show, visiting the exhibits of Honda, GM, Ford, Toyota, VW and Chrysler. She had the opportunity to see new car models and technologies on display, which truly demonstrate America's innovative spirit. The auto industry in Detroit also exemplifies how American businesses adapt, experiment, innovate, and come back even stronger when faced with a crisis.
The auto industry remains critically important to American jobs and the economy, and in her speech, Secretary Pritzker discussed how the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce can work with the automotive sector and all U.S. businesses to create the conditions that lead to additional growth.
One way is by supporting innovation, which is one of the major priorities of the “Open for Business Agenda” at the Department of Commerce.
For example, the Department just celebrated the end of the first full year of operations for the first-ever patent office outside Washington, which is located in Detroit. Through satellite offices in Detroit, Denver, Dallas and the Silicon Valley, the Department is bringing its services closer to the customers who use them.
Secretary Pritzker also stressed the ways in which the Department of Commerce supports a robust manufacturing industry. She highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships like the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a hub of institutes that align many of a region’s assets to support one emerging technology. The Department of Commerce has already launched a pilot institute for 3D printing in Ohio, and it is this kind of manufacturing innovation that can help the U.S. compete and lead in the global economy.
For every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy – the highest multiplier of any sector. In addition, nearly 10 cents of every corporate research and development (R&D) dollar in America comes from an automaker or supplier. Secretary Pritzker saw how these R&D dollars pay off when she visited the GM exhibition and learned about the new Buick with GM’s patented “Safety Alert Seat,” an advanced safety technology that alert of possible hazards on the road. New technologies like this were made possible due to strong R&D investments.
With the help of innovation and R&D investments, car sales rose to nearly 16 million cars in 2013 – the best year since 2007 – and since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has had the strongest job growth since the 1990s. In addition, foreign auto companies that export are key to a strong U.S. economy, as demonstrated by Honda, which has exported more than 1 million automobiles from the U.S. since it began manufacturing in the U.S. in 1982.
The Obama Administration was committed to helping the auto sector make it through the economic crisis, and the Administration and the Commerce Department are committed to serving Detroit as its partner.
The auto industry continues to be a source of innovation and a contributor to the economy, and Detroit is just another example of the resilience of American businesses.