Thank you to the House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer, for your introduction and for you leadership in Congress to strengthen manufacturers and to promote a “make it in America” agenda.
I also want to thank our co-host today, Congressman Frank Wolf. I know he will be coming to address this forum later on. From his work on the Appropriations Committee to his collaborations with the Commerce Department, Congressman Wolf is a powerful advocate for more exports, more re-shoring, and more investments by and for American companies. We thank him for his longtime service to our nation.
It is an honor to be here for the SelectUSA Summer Forum with so many accomplished business leaders, national associations, state and local government representatives, and congressional staff. Working together – across branches of government, across the public and private sectors – we can be certain of this clear fact: there is no better time to invest in the United States of America.
We know the reasons that U.S. manufacturing is experiencing a resurgence and companies are increasingly choosing to re-shore operations. Our strong rule of law, our intellectual property protections, our stable financial markets, our world class universities, our vibrant supply chains, our stable and abundant supply of energy, our strong consumer base, and the ingenuity and talent of our people.
What’s more, we have ample evidence that America continues to boast the world’s leading investment climate. According to AT Kearney’s latest surveys, the U.S. is the number one place to grow a global business, and our country has maintained the top spot of the foreign direct investment index for the second year in a row. But the analysis goes even further. As the recent AT Kearney report put it: “The message here is crystal clear: the United States is back in the minds of global business leaders as the prime destination for their investment. Never in the 16-year history of this index has a country had such a positive net position.”
This is a remarkable statement, and a reflection of simple truths: The trend in re-shoring is real. American companies are coming back to our communities – ready, as today’s theme states, to reinvest in America and create jobs at home.The Administration and the Department of Commerce stand ready to do our part, with all of you, to help drive these trends forward and keep America open for business.
Let me share two examples of how the Department is acting to empower businesses to keep investing in our local communities.
First is K’NEX Industries. Many of you have no doubt heard of – and hopefully your children and grandchilren played with – their toys, whether K’NEX Building Sets or Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys or others. K’NEX is a family-owned company led by Michael Araten, who will participate in a panel this afternoon.The company is based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, and manufactures 95 percent of its parts and 80 percent of its finished products here in the United States – keeping jobs, production, and vital investments in its home community. I am proud that our Export Assistance Center in Philadelphia has worked to help them increase their exports, ensuring K’NEX toys are always stamped proudly as “made in America.”
Next is the Richelieu Group, led by its CEO, Michael Penner. Richelieu is helping revitalize the apparel industry in North Carolina. Three years ago, the company invested $7 million to rescue a failing sock company called International Legwear Group (ILG), located in Burke County. By stepping in, Richelieu re-hired 45 laid-off workers and saved ILG’s ongoing accounts. Now, the business is thriving and the workforce has nearly doubled. Yesterday, Richelieu announced an investment to purchase, re-open, and update a soon-to-be state-of-the-art facility in North Carolina that will re-shore production from overseas and ultimately create more than 200 new jobs. I am pleased to say that our Foreign Commercial Service in Canada assisted the company in navigating federal regulations and cutting through obstacles to their investment.
In both cases, the Commerce Department played an essential part in supporting re-shoring and enabling success – and I am confident we can, and will, do the same for the companies represented at this forum. With these stories, and many more, we have seen what is possible when the Commerce Department and the private sector work hand-in-hand: to invest in American communities, strengthen American workers and families, expand American businesses, and grow the American economy.
Our message is simple: the Department of Commerce is committed to operating at the speed of business – because the more we can assist businesses, economic development organizations, and local governments, the more we can help advance a future of broadly-shared prosperity nationwide.
To build on the stories of K’NEX and Richelieu, I want to highlight some of the key ways we are acting to keep and attract job-creating investment in the United States.
One of our primary vehicles is SelectUSA. Created by President Obama in June 2011, it is the first-ever federal government-wide effort to promote, attract, retain, and expand business investment to and within the United States. Our competitors around the world have all developed similar efforts, and we cannot afford to be left behind. We must lead.
SelectUSA coordinates resources across federal agencies so investors don’t have to. It has worked closely with state and local governments to smooth the way for new investments, so that our communities see new jobs created and new businesses established. SelectUSA serves as an ombudsman to help all of you – economic development organizations, public officials, and private enterprises – with on-the-ground advice, with marketing opportunities, with counseling and information, and with high-level advocacy. SelectUSA is a key cog in the Administration’s ongoing strategy to keep our economy on-track for growth and prosperity, now and in the long run.
But our efforts to promote re-shoring are about more than SelectUSA. These actions extend across the Commerce Department, as we work together to attract investment. Leaders throughout the Department have made re-shoring a priority. The Economic Development Administration, led by Assistant Secretary Jay Williams, the former Mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, is advancing our Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) and the Make it in America Challenge. Just last week, we unveiled the U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry project, a national economic initiative based at Harvard Business School and supported by EDA. It aims to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, and will be a powerful tool for companies looking to re-shore.
More broadly, EDA investments fund a wide array of activities, including those that strengthen the workforce, build key infrastructure, provide needed capital, support knowledge transfer, and nurture the social networks necessary to promote American competitiveness and re-shoring.The Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been working hard to promote a robust manufacturing sector, touching 30,000 manufacturers annually. MEP works with businesses as they consider where and how to manufacture, and helps them find domestic suppliers – a critical component of location decisions.
The Minority Business Development Agency is committed to helping the nation’s minority-owned firms grow and compete globally, including through re-shoring. And today, I’m excited to help unveil a new and improved tool from the Economics and Statistics Administration: The Access Costs Everywhere – or ACE – framework. It is designed to assist manufacturers with gaining the important information they need to consider all of the costs involved when deciding where to locate, so they can make smart decisions that best serve their business and customers.
With these efforts, and others, the Commerce Department’s doors are open. We hope all of you and your counterparts across the country will walk through those doors, so we can work together to create more good jobs and build an economy that works for everyone.
We are coming back and proving that America is open for business. We must keep giving businesses every reason to return home. We must keep this momentum going. We must always stay true to our first priority: to serve the best interests of the American people; to strengthen the economic security of our workers and families; to empower our businesses and entrepreneurs; and to invest in a strong, thriving middle class.
Thank you all for being here today.
Now, to tell you more about the ACE Tool and to moderate our first panel, it is my pleasure to introduce our Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Mark Doms. Through his leadership of the Economics and Statistics Administration – which includes the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis – Dr. Doms contributes to policymaking on a wide range of issues: From data and innovation to trade and manufacturing to taxation, retirement security, immigration, and education.
I am proud to call the Department of Commerce, “The Data Agency.” Mark is leading our strategic plan for data transformation, to unlock more of our data to create greater economic growth – a key component of our Open for Business Agenda. Prior to serving in his current role, Dr. Doms served as the Department’s Chief Economist and previously spent much of his career in the Federal Reserve System. Put simply, he is an economic expert and an invaluable member of our extraordinary team. I am happy now to turn it over to Under Secretary Mark Doms.