The President spoke directly and personally to the audience
in Elkhart County, Indiana today: "For as the world grows more competitive, we can't afford to run the race at half-strength or half-speed. If we hope to lead this century like we did the last century, we have to create the conditions and the opportunities for places like Elkhart to succeed. We have to harness the potential – the innovative and creative spirit – that's waiting to be awakened all across America." Continuing his effort to establish a 21st century clean energy economy, the President announced an unprecedented $2.4 billion investment
in 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects, funded through the Recovery Act. The projects were selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, and these innovative ideas will help propel America forward as we work to establish the next generation of advanced vehicles.
The $2.4 billion is the single largest investment ever in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric drive vehicles, and coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost share from the award winners, it will result in the creation of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs that are much needed in places like Elkhart. Places like Elkhart have been hit particularly hard as manufacturing jobs have disappeared, but this new investment provides $39 million for Navistar to create or save hundreds of jobs in Elkhart.
(President Barack Obama shakes hands with people in the audience following remarks on the economy at Monaco RV manufacturing in Indiana. Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
This investment also demonstrates the President’s commitment to innovation, which is key to creating the jobs of the future right here in America:
Now, history should be our guide. The United States led the world's economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation. Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that's why innovation is more important than ever. That's the key to good, new jobs in the 21st century. That's how we will ensure a high quality of life for this generation and future generations. With these investments, we're planting the seeds of progress for our country, and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people.
So that's why I'm here today – to announce $2.4 billion in highly competitive grants to develop the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks powered by the next generation of battery technologies all made right here in the U.S. of A. (Applause.) Right here in America. (Applause.) Made in America. (Applause.)
For too long, we failed to invest in this kind of innovative work, even as countries like China and Japan were racing ahead. That's why this announcement is so important: This represents the largest investment in this kind of technology in American history.
See, I'm committed to a strategy that ensures America leads in the design and the deployment of the next generation of clean-energy vehicles. This is not just an investment to produce vehicles today; this is an investment in our capacity to develop new technologies tomorrow. This is about creating the infrastructure of innovation.
The President closed his remarks by acknowledging the realities of the recession, because even as progress is made, families continue to struggle. But as he explained, these tough times also present great opportunity for rebuilding a stronger foundation for our country:
Energy and innovation, health care and education – these are the pillars of the new foundation that we have to build. This is how we won't just rescue the economy, but we're going to rebuild it stronger than before.
Now, there are a lot of people out there those who are looking to defend the status quo. There are those who want to seek political advantage. They want to oppose these efforts. Some of them caused the problems that we got now in the first place, and then suddenly they're blaming other folks for it. (Applause.) They don't want to be constructive. They don't want to be constructive; they just want to get in the usual political fights back and forth. And sometimes that's fed by all the cable chatter on the media.
But you and I know the truth. We know that even in the hardest times, against the toughest odds, we have never surrendered. We don't give up. We don't surrender our fates to chance. We have always endured. We have worked hard, and we have fought for our future. Our parents had to fight for their future; our grandparents had to fight for their future. That's the tradition of America. This country wasn't built just by griping and complaining. It was built by hard work and taking risks. (Applause.) And that's what we have to do today.