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Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo at the Greater Washington Partnership Inclusive Growth Announcement at Howard University


Thank you, Peter, for that introduction, and thank you to Dr. Frederick and Howard University for hosting us today. And thank you, Vice President Harris and Administrator Guzman, for joining us.

I’m excited to join all of you for today’s announcement. It builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s laser-focus on creating good-paying jobs for American workers.

A very wise person, an inventor, once told me: Homogeneity is the enemy of innovation.

America's diversity is our core strength and our greatest competitive advantage.

The challenge of meaningfully addressing the kind of systemic challenges that have driven the wealth gap in our country can seem daunting and overwhelming. For too long, the magnitude and complexity of the problem has held us back.

According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family.

The gap in business ownership between Black and Latino households, relative to White households, accounted for 25 percent of the overall racial wealth gap between these groups. 

Supporting minority-owned businesses, closing the wage gap, and investing in underrepresented communities are all crucial to our nation’s economic well-being and family wealth creation.

With today’s announcement, leaders from across the Greater Washington region are taking the kind of action we need to lead us toward a more just and equitable future.

And your efforts complement the work we’re doing at the Commerce Department to ensure equitable access to capital, build resilience across communities, and provide all Americans equal opportunity to thrive.

This pursuit of equity is not just the right thing to do – it’s the right thing to do for our economy.

That’s why the Commerce Department is investing in our workforce through programs like the Good Jobs Challenge which is investing half a billion dollars in employer-led partnerships that will get Americans—particularly women, people of color, and those in underserved communities—back to work in good paying jobs.

We’re also investing billions to close the digital divide and ensure every American has high-speed, affordable Internet, and the digital skills they need to succeed in today’s economy.

But while we have a huge role to play, government cannot solve these problems alone.

If we’re really going to eliminate the wealth gap and close the digital divide, we need strong partnerships between the private sector and local organizations.

Businesses need to step up and use private capital to make the kinds of investments we need to tackle these problems, and to create pathways that lead to real, high-quality jobs.

That’s why the funding being announced today by the Greater Washington Partnership is a big step in the right direction. 

So let me congratulate you on this kickoff.  I’m excited to see the results, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to help families get ahead.