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Transcript of The "Open for Business Agenda" - Remarks delivered at 1776 DC on November 14, 2013

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Thank you very much. Thank you Donna. Thank you Marillyn.


And I particularly want to welcome the th grade class from Castilleja school. It's the school from which I graduated high school


and its just a delight that the young ladies could join us today on their th grade trip to Washington.


It is an honor to be with so many business leaders as we roll out our strategic vision and priorities for the Commerce Department.


And it is particularly great to be here at
, which grew out of the President's Startup


America initiative. Here at , revolutionary
ideas are turned into products, business plans,


and companies. We can all feel the excitement
and energy here because of the vital guidance


and support that organizations like  provide
to budding entrepreneurs. Can everyone give


the  community a round of applause?


 is the perfect name for a place where
start-ups are launched. As America's founding


entrepreneur, Benjamin Franklin, once said
"An investment in knowledge pays the best


interest." That notion comes to life here
in a place where insight, ideas, and sweat


equity result in new businesses and perhaps
even new industries.


Many things have changed since , but
our American entrepreneurial spirit has remained


steadfast.


I, personally, have started several businesses.
I have felt that energy and excitement,


and yes at times the fear, that comes with
a start-up.


Since I came on board at the Commerce Department,
I have worked to foster that kind of environment


where good ideas can rise to the top. Our
, employees were already doing a great


job, but we started pushing for ways to make
our work even more meaningful, customer-focused,


and outcomes-oriented.


On my first day, I hung a sign on the door
to my office that says, "Open for Business."


To me, that simple phrase captures it all.
It shows that we are focused on our most important


customer, business leaders like you and
the conditions necessary for your companies


to grow. That sign also shows that this administration
is partnering with America's private sector


as you continue to lead us to full economic
recovery.


I truly believe, just like the President,
that we will only be successful with great


corporate leadership.


The fact is, you have already brought us a
long way over the past four years. In  months,


the private sector, leaders like you in
this room, has created . million jobs.


Our GDP has grown for  straight quarters.
Our deficits have been cut in half. Exports


are up and The housing market is coming
back.


And while we need to put even more Americans
back to work and lift incomes this momentum


shows that our businesses are positioned, more than ever before, to take the lead


in the global economy.


I know this first-hand, because over the past
few months, I have heard from hundreds of


CEOs and business leaders.


It is absolutely clear.


We are ready to compete.


My question for business leaders is simple
How can the Commerce Department help set the


conditions for your success?


That is what I want to talk about today
three key areas that are crucial components


of our economic growth agenda.


Trade - because our businesses need access
to more markets and more customers.


Innovation - because our businesses need
a strong digital economy, cutting-edge manufacturing


and technology, and a well-trained workforce
to stay competitive.


And data - because our businesses need access
to more and better information to make smart


decisions and stay ahead.


To expand on each of these areas, let me share
my journey of the past few months with you.


 


In August, my listening tour took me to Houston,
our nation's top metro area for merchandise


exports at over
$ billion dollars last year.


As I toured the newest expansion of its port,
I was reminded that global trade has grown


over  percent in just  years, millions
of people in developing countries are being


lifted into the consuming class each year,
and  percent of consumers reside outside


the United States.


It is clear that the greatest commercial opportunities
for our firms in the st century will not


only be here at home, but also outside our
borders.


Simply put, trade must become a bigger part
of the DNA of our economy.


Already, the President's National Export
Initiative has achieved impressive results.


We hit a record $. trillion dollars in exports
last year, up $ billion dollars from .


Nearly  million U.S. jobs are now supported
by exports, up . million since . A record


of nearly  percent of our GDP was driven
by exports last year. And, in fact, some places


like Kansas City attribute their recovery
almost entirely to increased exports.


However, we are still a nation that under-exports.
What that means is too few of our firms are


selling goods and services into too few global
markets.


That is why I have asked my team to take a
fresh look at the National Export Initiative.


This new effort, NEI ., requires government
and industry to work closely together to help


businesses become more globally fluent.


Together, we must answer several key questions.


Over the past decade, small businesses' contribution
to our exports has grown from one-fourth to


one-third. How can we continue to broaden
our base of exporters?


Some states and cities still think that their
local economies will do just fine without


looking abroad. How can we help them realize
that exporting is critical not just to survive


but to flourish?
And, as our services sector thrives, how


can we build on Americaís unique advantage
to attract more travel and tourism? And how


can we expand the perception of Made in America
from just a shipping container, to include


a businesswoman with a passport, a briefcase,
and a consulting contract?


NEI . will help answer these questions.


In addition, I will work to ensure strong
enforcement of trade rules, and a level playing


field for our workers.


And, as our country's Chief Commercial Advocate,
I will do everything I can to open more doors


for American goods and services.


For example, I heard repeatedly on my listening
tour that we need more free trade agreements


to open even more markets.


That starts with renewing Trade Promotion
Authority. I plan to go to Capitol Hill and


around the country to make sure President
Obama has this same authority given to previous


Presidents.


In addition, we will work with the United
States Trade Representative's Office to deliver


a high-standard Trans Pacific Partnership.
Our experts are working around the clock with


the  other TPP countries. We envision TPP
as the foundation for a broader free-trade


pact throughout the Asia-Pacific region.


Also, as I speak, members of my team are in
Brussels at the second round of talks with


the EU on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership T-TIP.


Last year, America's  free trade partners
attracted  percent of American exports,


even though they only represented  percent
of global GDP. Imagine our potential when


these two new agreements link us with  more
countries totaling over  percent of the


world's GDP. Suffice it to say that the Port
of Houston will become busier than ever.


Of course, we should also focus on America's
unparalleled position to attract more inbound


investment.


We have entered a unique era of opportunity.
Global businesses want to be here because


of our rule of law, our intellectual property
protections, our stable financial markets,


our universities, our strong consumer base,
and the ingenuity of our people.


On top of that, key trends are working in
our favor, such as low-cost and abundant energy.


The President knew that we needed to take
full advantage of this moment when he launched


SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in .
Ever since then, SelectUSA has been working


with foreign CEOs and our economic development
leaders across the country to put even more


deals in the pipeline.


In fact, just two weeks ago, , leaders
from  countries converged on DC for the


first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit. The
demand for our summit was overwhelming, and


the demand to invest in the United States
is deep.


We announced that we are expanding and enhancing
SelectUSA to help even more businesses grow


their footprint here in America.


The feedback from the summit made it clear.
SelectUSA provides a powerful bang for our


taxpayers' buck.


Today we are in a global competition for investments.
That is why Congress should fully fund SelectUSA.


The President had it right when he said "When
you bet on America, that bet pays off."


From Houston, let's go to Albany, New York,
where I went in July on my listening tour.


There, the semiconductor industry is thriving, building the chips that go into our laptops


and smartphones.


Albany reflects the importance of innovation
in two important ways.


First, the chips that are built there support
our digital economy.


I am sure that many of the startups here at
 have launched their businesses entirely


online or through apps.


The fact is, as much as half of economic growth
in the United States is due to advances in


science, technology, and business processes.


The Commerce Department helps create broad
opportunities for entrepreneurship and continued


growth in the digital economy.


For example, since  we have laid ,
miles of broadband across the country ñ linking


small businesses and their customers with
high-speed Internet.


Looking forward, the Commerce Department will
make sure that American businesses have a


strong voice at the table when it comes to
strengthening our digital economy.


We will fight to protect intellectual property
online. We will work to ensure there is robust


cybersecurity for our infrastructure, for
industry, and for consumers. And we will


champion a free and open Internet throughout
the world, while making sure that our companies


are treated fairly.


In the months ahead, the Commerce Department
will develop a coordinated approach to these


and other internet policies that affect business.
That is our commitment.


A second way in which Albany's semiconductor
industry reflects innovation is through their


unique model of collaboration.


Would-be-rivals are jointly engaging in pre-competitive
research.


This approach brings together the smartest
minds from academia, the private sector, and


government, to work on the most challenging
opportunities, to achieve more scientific breakthroughs,


and then translate those discoveries into
marketable ideas.


Not surprisingly, the region is becoming a
global hub for semiconductor companies and


their suppliers, attracting billions of dollars
in investments and thousands more jobs.


Notably, the success of this model traces
back to the s when the federal government


made a major investment to ensure our long-term
competitiveness in this industry.


How can we replicate that kind of success
through future public-private partnerships?


Our country's top manufacturing CEOs and
university presidents came up with an answer


the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.


NNMI institutes align many of a regionís
assets to support one emerging technology,


a technology that will improve both WHAT
we make and HOW we make it.


Already, we launched a pilot institute for
D printing in Ohio. Soon, three more institutes


will be awarded in lightweight metals, power
electronics, and


digital manufacturing and design. These are
cutting-edge areas in which the United States


must compete and lead. Our innovation-driven
economy depends on it.


The competition for these institutes is fierce,
and the fact is, communities and industry


are clamoring for us to fund more of
these hubs. The President has called for up


to  institutes. Importantly, leaders from
both parties in Congress have co-sponsored


legislation to make this network a reality.


Other countries are making major investments
in manufacturing innovation. To win the future,


we need to lead the next wave of exciting
new industries and technologies, right here


at home.


But all the best technologies in the world
are worthless unless we have a workforce that


can bring these cutting-edge products to market
and work to continuously improve them.


The most common concern that I have heard
from CEOs is their challenge of finding workers


with the skills they need to help their businesses
grow.


The fact is, too many jobs are going unfilled
at a time when millions of Americans are still


looking for work.


To help drive innovation in our economy, we
simply must make better connections between


what businesses need, and what our training
institutions provide.


For that reason, for the first time ever,
I am pleased to announce that the Commerce


Department is making skills a top priority.


In coordination with the White House, the
departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education


are joining forces. We are exploring how to
better align federal funding for workforce


development to support demand-driven skills
training.


For our part, the Commerce Department will
emphasize industry-led training when funding


state-level partners who work with small manufacturers. We
will track those partners' outcomes and share


best practices throughout this network,
called the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.


In addition, our Economic Development Administration
will encourage grant applicants to incorporate


local workforce needs in their proposals.


Furthermore, we are going to take advantage
of the great minds on our National Advisory


Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
in which a key advisor to , Steve Case,


has played a critical role. The Council will
gather ideas on the best ways to equip Americans


for tomorrow's jobs in high-growth industries.


Most importantly, I have already met with
many CEOs who are leading the way on this


very issue. Some of you have partnered across
your industry to address the skills gap. Others


are working with community colleges to develop
curricula and broadly recognized credentials.


My team will continue to help operationalize
and act on your best ideas. After all, a globally


competitive economy requires a globally competitive
workforce.


 


Finally, let me turn to data. Let's go west
to Seattle where I visited Amazon and other


tech companies in September on my listening
tour.


As you know, Amazon is a multi-billion dollar
business driven largely by data. We discussed


how they use "big data" to grow their business
and how the Commerce Department can put more


of our extensive data into the hands of entrepreneurs.


I know the value of this first-hand. My first
startup  years ago was built with the help


of information from the Census Bureau. I needed
to know how many seniors lived in certain


areas, their incomes, and much more. Census
data helped my team choose where to put our


senior living communities, launching a company
that now has thousands of customers and thousands


of employees.


Since then, the need for timely, relevant, and accessible data to make informed business decisions has grown exponentially.

It is already clear that government data is fertile ground for business creation and market growth.

For example, each day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produces terabytes of weather and climate data that the public can easily use. Those  terabytes alone power a multi-billion-dollar industry, everything from the Weather Channel to your smartphone weather apps.

Here is the opportunity There are about additional terabytes each day that go largely untapped. To put that in perspective, that is roughly the printed collection of the Library of Congress times two.

Today, we are taking the first steps to create a public-private initiative to unleash more

NOAA data. This will help more entrepreneurs launch businesses using public information about our oceans, climate, and weather.

Just as importantly, this will bolster our longstanding Commerce Department priority of protecting our environment This includes helping communities adapt to climate change, developing stronger resilience standards for buildings and infrastructure, and maintaining world-class weather forecasting capabilities.

We can NOT stop there in our efforts to free up data.

We will work throughout our Department, across government, and with industry to make even more data standardized and easy-to-use. And if you have ideas for new data products to better meet industry needs, we want to hear them.

One last point.

Data does NOT get a lot of attention until it is not available. Americans were reminded of this when the Commerce Departmentís economic reports were delayed due to the shutdown.

Businesses depend every single day on the rich data we provide.

Suffice it to say that Congress should continue to support the high-quality information that comes from the American Community Survey, our satellites, and the  Census which we are preparing for right now.

After all, as Ginni Rometty of IBM says, "Information will be to the st century what steam, electricity and fossil fuels were to prior centuries." I could not agree more.

Let's make sure that both data and our digital economy are fully empowering entrepreneurs and businesses in the years ahead.

As we traveled to Houston, to Albany, to Seattle, and everywhere in between, this new Open for Business Agenda was driven by what I heard from leaders like you.

This agenda is a critical part of the President's overall effort to grow the economy and create jobs.

Let me be clear I will continue to speak up as the voice for business on all of the administration's priorities that affect our private sector.

This includes business tax reform to help our companies compete globally, investing in infrastructure to move our goods, information, and people, immigration reform which will strengthen our workforce, lower our deficit, and boost our economy, and, of course, cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary regulatory costs wherever possible.

Moreover, my team will work harder than ever to break through unexpected roadblocks and distractions, including those originating here in D.C. We can NOT afford manufactured crises anymore.

Instead, it is time to get things done.

We have an opportunity right now to work together to set the conditions for a vibrant, st century economy and the good jobs that come with it.

My commitment is that my Department will be responsive, customer-focused, and outcomes-driven.

And we will demand a strong return on investment just like American businesses do.

That sign on my door is more than just a symbol.

I want everyone who steps in, from a CEO to a foreign leader to an intern, to know that sign reflects the core values of American businesses as well as the core values of this administration and our Department.

Yes, we are OPEN for BUSINESS. Thank you very much. I look forward
to working with you.

[Applause]