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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Cleveland Cuyahoga Community College Roundtable


Hello everyone! It’s great to be here with you at the Cuyahoga Community College Roundtable.

Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for that kind introduction and for organizing this event.

I’d also like to thank our Northern Ohio District Export Council members for volunteering your time to support our trade community. 

And I want to express my gratitude to Jodi Berg from Vitamix and Jack Schron from Jergens for hosting the Women in Manufacturing Summit tour, and to Allison Grealis for organizing that terrific event. 

I was so impressed with the tour this morning and all the great things Tri-C is doing to make sure our workforce is prepared for job of tomorrow. 

It’s befitting we’re having this discussion at the Manufacturing Technology Center, because all of us here − business leaders, service providers, economic development agencies – understand how important our manufacturing sector is to America’s economic recovery.

I know we’re also on the same page about how critical our public-private partnerships are to helping our business communities in Northeast Ohio grow. 

That’s what the President’s Build Back Better agenda is all about: investing in our economy – and our workforce.

Through the American Rescue Act, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, or EDA, was given $3 billion dollars to help communities build back better.

From millions of working mothers balancing multiple jobs, to young adults looking for work, to laid-off factory workers wondering what comes next − these funds will help provide job training and good-paying jobs for you and your communities.

We launched our Build Back Better Regional Challenge which invests $1 billion dollars in revitalizing economies for up to 30 regions across the country. It drives innovation and supports projects that grow new industries and scale existing ones.

In parallel, we also have the Good Jobs Challenge which allocates $500 million towards industry-led workforce training programs and apprenticeships. It places 100,000 workers in good-paying jobs − particularly women, people of color, and underserved communities.

And to help grantees complete their training, the program covers childcare and transportation – because no one should have to choose between caring for a loved one and a paycheck.

Since October is manufacturing month, I want to talk about the importance of manufacturing and exports to the U.S. economy.

As you all know, prior to COVID in 2019, U.S. manufacturing output was valued at $2.3 trillion.

Manufacturing employs over 12 million American workers, and since July it’s created more than 135,000 new jobs.

For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy. That’s the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

Now, while the U.S. market offers tremendous opportunities, today more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power lies outside of the United States.

Many overseas markets are experiencing double-digit growth and offer tremendous potential for American businesses.

And the fact is, manufacturers that export are more productive, profitable, and competitive.

At the Department of Commerce, we are laser-focused on creating the conditions that empower American businesses to succeed at home and abroad.

Which is why we’re not only making historic investments to strengthen America’s domestic manufacturing, but we’re also tackling unfair trade practices in the international arena to ensure a level playing field for our manufacturers.

We’re making progress. But we still have work to do. And we all know government can’t do it alone. It takes strong partnerships with all of you to get the job done.

I know many of you here have worked with the Commercial Service office in Cleveland. They’re dedicated to helping U.S. companies start or grow their exports. But there’s more support we can provide domestically, too.

So please stay in touch with the Commerce Department.

It’s more important than ever that we work together to build an economy with American manufactures at the forefront.

With that, I look forward to our discussion and to hearing your perspectives.