U.S. Deputy Seretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Delivers Remarks at the White House Economic Development Forum


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered remarks at the White House Economic Development Forum. This annual event, jointly hosted by the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA, the National Economic Council, and the International Economic Development Council, brought together the country’s leading economic development professionals to provide commentary on the nation’s economic progress.

In his remarks, the Deputy Secretary thanked economic development organizations (EDOs) for their contributions in making the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit such a success and their vital role in promoting economic growth in the United States. Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted that the Department of Commerce values the partnership of all economic development organizations and intends to continue to invest efforts into investment promotion within the federal government.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Vinai, for that warm welcome and for your leadership. You and the SelectUSA team did wonderful work organizing today’s event, as well as this year’s highly successful SelectUSA Investment Summit. More than 600 EDO’s from 52 states and territories joined us to showcase why there’s never been a better time to invest in America. The IEDC ny of the members here today played a pivotal role in SelectUSA’s success. I would like to thank everyone who participated in this year’s Summit. Your work has created stronger communities across our country and a stronger economy for our people and our businesses. It is great to be back at the White House Forum on Economic Development for the third straight year. At the Department of Commerce, we’re constantly developing new approaches to attract investment, create new jobs, and expand opportunity.

We are here today because we share a common mission: to create a climate for economic growth and broad-based prosperity across America. We all know that when President Obama took office, we were facing the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. Today our economy is stronger and more sound. Our growth is outpacing the rest of the world. Perhaps the President said it best at this year’s Summit when he stated, “If you could choose any place and time to invest your business’s precious resources, you’d choose right here, right now.” Think about it. Since 2009, our economy has grown by more than 14 percent and has created 14 million new jobs. And EDO’s played a key role moving us from recession to recovery to expansion. You helped create America’s economic comeback. Your work helped American businesses to grow, workers to thrive, and our communities to compete. 

SelectUSA is a perfect example of our Department’s strong working relationship with the EDO community. Since the creation of SelectUSA, the program has grown to attract investors from over 75 markets worldwide. Through our flagship Summits and SelectUSA’s daily efforts, we have facilitated over $22.5 billion in foreign direct investment, supporting thousands of good-paying American jobs. Together, we have proven that attracting foreign investment is a winning ingredient for regional economic development and job creation.

I cannot help but to be proud of our work together to promote investment, create jobs, and build a more competitive economy. Yet despite our progress, we must look ahead to the future. Many families hear about economic expansion, but have not benefited from our growing economy. At the Department of Commerce, we work every day to create a more dynamic economy where prosperity is sustainable and broadly shared. That is why we are working to bolster workforce development efforts, increase trade and investment, modernize infrastructure and foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Today, I want to highlight how the Department of Commerce is working to advance each of these objectives.

First, we are investing in our people to ensure that they are prepared to succeed in today’s global economy. We live in a world driven by globalization – a world where markets are increasingly interconnected, the pace of innovation continues to gain speed and technology is changing how we work and do business. That is why for the first time ever, the Department of Commerce has made job training and workforce development a top priority. The reason for that is simple: we heard you. Secretary Pritzker and I have met with countless business leaders. What we constantly heard are the challenges they face to hire workers with the right skillsets. That is why we launched our “Skills for Business” initiative. This cross-agency effort is working to match our federal training programs to meet  the needs of today’s employers.  At the same time, we are partnering with educational institutions, businesses, E-D-Os, and local and foreign governments to improve how we train our workforce. The fact is federal workforce development programs amount to just a fraction of the $450 billion dollars that private companies invest in training their workforce each year in the United States. That is why we must build strong partnerships between government and the private sector. It’s the only we can ensure that we train our workers to meet the needs of our employers. In this new century, the pace of innovation shows no signs of slowing down. Our world will continue to evolve. So we want our workers, our companies, and our communities to be at forefront of these changes.

Second, we are investing in our national competitiveness. American companies can outcompete anyone in the world if they have level playing field. After all, 96 percent of the world’s customers live beyond our borders. With access to these customers, our companies can export more products and create more jobs here at home. Strong trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, are at the forefront of that effort. This agreement will open doors for American exporters and at the same time, allow us to shape the rules of 21st century commerce. TPP includes tough measures to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law, improve enforcement of intellectual property rights, and better protect workers, the environment, and public health. Simply put: TPP will not only help businesses export more American goods, it will also help our nation export American values worldwide. Still, we hear the voices of skeptics. We must take those concerns head on. It is true globalization is creating more competition for our companies. It is true digitization and technology is changing how we work. Yet these forces will continue to change the world whether we embrace TPP or reject it. The fact is that high standard trade agreements are not responsible for the forces that have brought our world closer together. High standard trade agreements like TPP are how we shape these forces to match our strengths, compete around the world, and create opportunity here at home.

Third, we are investing in infrastructure, so that our products and ideas move at the speed required to win in the 21st century. Our infrastructure – whether we’re talking about highways, bridges, and airports, or reliable access to the internet – is the backbone of our economy. It moves our goods, it connects our businesses, and it links people and communities around the world. Unfortunately, we continue to accept the status quo and under-invest in the infrastructure upgrades we need to succeed in today’s global economy. We all know that the American Society for Civil Engineers usually gives the United States a D+ in its annual infrastructure report card. In fact, some experts estimate we need at least three trillion dollars in new infrastructure investments nationwide. Such an effort would be worth every penny. It would put thousands of Americans back to work, reduce costs for businesses, and attract greater investment.

While we push to revamp our roads, expand our ports, and repair our bridges, the Department of Commerce is also investing in the telecommunications infrastructure that Americans need to innovate in today’s digital economy.  Through our National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we are proud to have invested over $4 billion to install broadband in underserved communities – connecting more Americans to the gateway of our digital economy. 

And that brings us to our Department’s efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. When you hear the word innovation, most people think of places like Silicon Valley. But the truth is that innovation has always powered the American economy, and great ideas exist in every corner of our country. Secretary Pritzker and I believe the federal government has a responsibility to equip entrepreneurs and innovators with the resources they need to turn great ideas into great businesses. Take for instance our Startup Global program, which encourages early-stage companies to take the leap into exporting their goods and services. Our Department provides technical assistance and know-how to help American businesses succeed in the global economy. From the flash of genius that spurs a new idea to the first time shipping a new product abroad, our mission at the Department of Commerce is to be there every step of the way.

From attracting greater foreign direct investment to building 21st century infrastructure, the Department of Commerce works every day to create the conditions for our businesses to succeed and our workers to prosper. But as we continue to make investments, we need to hear from leaders like you. You understand the economic challenges our communities face every day. You build resilient regional economies. You know what federal programs are working – and which ones can do better. Together, with you as our partners, we can continue create impactful investment and innovation in our communities, expand the footprint of our businesses, and cultivate promise and prosperity for our families and our workforce. Thank you. 

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