Press Release U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Addresses State of the Economy at U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Winter Meeting

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Press Release
01/20/2016 03:13 PM EST

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered remarks on the current state of the economy at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 84th Annual Winter Meeting.

Addressing the Metro Economies Standing Committee, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted key areas of collaboration between the Department of Commerce and local governments across the country.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Richard. It’s especially fitting that you’re introducing me today, because Albuquerque and the Department of Commerce have enjoyed a long history together.

In 2013, our Economic Development Administration invested $1.5 million in a new Innovation Center between the city and the University of New Mexico. This center was the first piece in the Innovate ABQ initiative – which brings together the research powers of the state’s flagship university with the city’s entrepreneurial and established business community. Less than a year after it opened, the center is already targeting expansion, providing Albuquerque’s entrepreneurs with the tools they need to thrive, and creating a more vibrant local economy.

It’s also great to see my own mayor Stephanie Miner, the mayor of Syracuse. My entire family are her constituents, so I’ve had the opportunity to see her great work firsthand. And my great-great-grandfather was one of her predecessors as mayor of Syracuse during the Civil War.

All over the country, the Department of Commerce is working with mayors and local governments to build stronger communities. Our partnership is a natural one, because all of us share a common goal: to foster a climate for economic growth and broad-based prosperity in the United States, and to help create jobs for American workers.

We have made great strides toward this goal in recent years. After years of uncertainty, our economy stands on strong footing, outpacing the rest of the world. Our economic comeback is a testament to the work being done in our local communities – led by local governments, who have implemented plans and strategies to get our cities back on their feet.

According to a U.S. Conference of Mayors’ report, metro areas contributed more than 94 percent of new jobs and 95 percent of the increase in GDP in 2014.

Our country’s economic well-being is directly linked to the success of our cities – and that success is driven by our nation’s mayors. The federal government plays an important role in setting the conditions for our economy to thrive – but it is all of you who are doing the hard, necessary work that enables businesses to grow, workers to thrive, and communities to become strong once again.

While we have made great progress, we know that our country still has a long way to go. Too many families and communities are still waiting to feel the benefits of our growing economy in their day-to-day lives.

At the Department of Commerce, we work every day to strengthen the economy and spur prosperity that is sustainable and inclusive. To achieve this, we are working closely with mayors from across the country, who are leading efforts to create smart and strategic economic growth plans. Today, I want to discuss three specific areas where we have worked together with our nation’s mayors to the benefit of the American people.

The first area is innovation and entrepreneurship. We want to make it easier and more efficient for any American to build and grow their own company, and we believe that the federal government must support efforts by local governments to ensure that entrepreneurs and innovators have what they need to turn a great idea into a great business.

That’s why the Department of Commerce is putting more tools in the hands of entrepreneurs and American businesses than ever before through initiatives like our Regional Innovation Strategies grants. Led by our Economic Development Administration, we are using these grants to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the country.

In Orlando, for example, the University of Central Florida is bringing together professors, students, and the private sector to create a center that will help inventors bring innovative devices like prosthetic arms for children to market.

In addition, our Minority Development Business Agency has 44 Business Centers all across the country. Budding entrepreneurs can work with our experts in these centers to secure capital, compete for a contract, identify a strategic partner, become export-ready, and more.

By providing your communities with the funding and expertise they need to thrive, we are helping local leaders foster new technology, businesses, and jobs – while also increasing our economic competiveness globally.

The next area where we are partnering effectively is on manufacturing – in particular with the Mayors’ Task Force on Advanced Manufacturing. From day one, strengthening our manufacturing sector has been a top priority for President Obama, and this Administration has been laser-focused on expanding this iconic sector of our economy.

At the Commerce Department, we are doing our part through programs like the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, or IMCP. IMCP brings together federal agencies and local communities to make their region’s manufacturers more globally competitive.

This program asks communities to identify an area where they have a comparative advantage, develop a strategic plan to grow their manufacturing base, resource and execute the plan, and continually assess their performance.

While we’re still in the early days of this initiative, we are already seeing results in the 24 designated communities. The Southwestern Ohio Aerospace Region, for example, has secured nearly $20 million in federal investment since receiving its IMCP designation. They have already created more than 2,500 new jobs and attracted new private sector commitments totaling $529 million in the region’s manufacturing base.

We are also strengthening manufacturing communities through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. NNMI breaks down silos between the private sector and academia to collaborate on taking industry-relevant technologies from lab to market. In just three years, the network has grown to over 725 partners from industry and academia at 7 existing institutes and is actively working on 120 technology development projects. We have also requested funding for two new institutes.

By planting the seeds of manufacturing innovation and rewarding communities that have a strong, comprehensive economic development plans, we are boosting our country’s position as the world’s leader in manufacturing.

The final area where the federal government is hard at work helping your cities grow is trade and investment.

To build a future of sustainable growth for our economy, we need to help more American companies in more communities reach the 96 percent of customers who live outside the United States. Yet, too often, your companies lack equal access to foreign markets and confront significant barriers to entry. For example, in some Asia-Pacific markets, our businesses face tariffs as high as 83 percent on American-made goods.

That’s why we need new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that level the playing field for American workers and businesses in these markets, leading to more Made-in-America exports and more higher-paying jobs here at home.

In addition to bringing the voice of industry to the negotiating table, our Department is laying the groundwork for American businesses to capitalize on TPP. For example, we have more than 100 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located in cities all across America. Their job is to help U.S. businesses with every step of the export process.

Now that negotiations have concluded, we are currently making the case for TPP to Members of Congress and the public – but if we’re going to be successful in our efforts, we need your help. You need you to make your voices heard on why TPP means lower prices for your constituents, more jobs for your workers, and more growth for our economy.

On the investment side, we are making it easier for foreign firms to invest, build, and prosper in your cities and towns.

In today’s increasingly interconnected and globalized economy, companies have options about where they choose to locate. You must do everything you can to make your city the most attractive investment destination it can be – because if you don’t, others will.

To that end, SelectUSA – led by the Department of Commerce – is the first-ever, whole-of-government effort to facilitate business investment to and within the United States. Our team is ready to work with each of you to support the efforts of your cities to attract foreign investment. There are two significant upcoming events to showcase opportunities for local investment.

The first is the Hannover Messe in April. For the first time ever, the United States is the official partner country at the world’s leading industrial trade show. The President is leading our delegation, and we are hosting an investment pavilion featuring states and cities, as well as several other pavilions highlighting U.S. exporters and technology leaders. If your local economic development organization is not already signed up, I strongly encourage you to talk to them about attending.

The second is the SelectUSA Investment Summit this June.  We launched registration this month, and we’re already seeing a strong response.  Our teams at embassies and consulates all over the world are recruiting investors to meet with you right now. My colleague Vinai Thummalapally is here today. I encourage you to find him afterwards to learn more about the Hannover Messe and Select USA.

Before I go, I can’t resist this opportunity to encourage to attend our Economic Development Administration’s national conference here in Washington in April. The first national EDA conference since 2008, this two day event will focus on the future of economic development.

By bringing together hundreds of regional and local economic development professionals, non-profit and private partners, and officials from all levels of government, the conference is a prime venue for you to share best practices on how to boost competitiveness. I strongly encourage all of you to attend. You can register online and find more information at

In addition, Jay Williams – the head of EDA and former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio – will be speakingtomorrow to the Community Development and Housing Committee, so I encourage you to seek him out if you have any questions.

America’s mayors have some of the toughest jobs in the country. Your constituents rely on you for so much: from attracting businesses and jobs, to providing quality education for the next generation, to filling potholes and fixing traffic lights.

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from my speech today, it’s this: we, in the federal government, want to be your partners and help your communities thrive. From providing your city with the funding it needs to foster entrepreneurs, to supporting your manufacturing base, to showcasing your town’s assets on the world stage, we want to support your efforts to grow your local economies. Working together, I am confident we help create jobs, lift incomes, and expand opportunity in cities and towns all across America. Thank you.

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Robert Williams

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