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President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness: Helping Local Businesses Reach Global Customers

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke travels with members of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to visit Permac Industries.

Earlier today, I had the privilege of traveling with members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to visit Permac Industries, a small manufacturer just outside Minneapolis, Minn. Why Permac? Because the firm represents the best America has to offer – a company that has grown from a simple machine shop into a state-of-the-art facility that manufactures precision parts for customers worldwide in virtually all industries.

I was glad to have a chance to talk about the Obama administration’s commitment to giving businesses like Permac the tools they need to win in the global economy. That effort is a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, we’re aggressively incentivizing investment here in America, as highlighted by key provisions that President Obama insisted be included in the December tax package, such as a new expensing benefit that will let companies write off 100 percent of their machinery and equipment purchases made in 2011. This, the largest temporary investment incentive for businesses in American history, will help create demand for new equipment and will mean new factory orders – which in turn means companies will need to hire more workers to keep up with the demand.

At the same time, the administration is making unprecedented efforts to help companies grow by breaking into new foreign markets. That’s why early last year President Obama announced his National Export Initiative, which mobilizes departments throughout the federal government to help double U.S. exports by 2015 and support millions of jobs. The reason for this is simple. The more American companies export, they more they produce. And the more they produce, the more workers they need. And that means jobs.

Exports have become a key driver of America's economic recovery, accounting for nearly half of U.S. economic growth since mid-2009. (Consider that exports directly support more than 9 million U.S. jobs!) If we want to continue that success, we’ll need more participation from small to medium-sized businesses, which often aren’t exporting nearly as much as they could. That’s where the federal government can help, armed with the NEI and the support it provides to companies that want to sell more of what they make overseas.

 We know government can’t solve all the problems facing our country. What it can do is create smart incentives so that businesses like Permac can build something special. That’s how we ensure that U.S. companies compete and win in the global economy and create new American jobs. And I’m confident that together we will get there.