Ed. note: This was updated on June 10, 2015.
In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his plan for Middle Class Economics, which he dedicated to “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.
As a centerpiece of that Middle Class Economics strategy, President Obama has proposed and fought for the most significant trade agenda in American history, and for good reason – because Made-in-America exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people.
Made-in-America exports have been a key driver of our economic recovery, hitting record-breaking heights for the past 5 straight years. And those American exports support 11.7 million jobs across the United States.
Now, to build on those benefits and strengthen the American Middle Class, President Obama is championing groundbreaking trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe that will ensure we have premium access to vital markets across the world while raising labor and environmental standards in a way that level the playing field for our workers and our businesses and make us more competitive in the global economy.
When it comes to the promise of the President’s trade agenda, no one sees the positive impacts of increased exports U.S. communities more clearly than its local leaders. That’s why American mayors from all over the United States are actively voicing their support for this element of Middle Class Economics.
Whether it’s the dock worker in Maryland, the apple farmer in Oregon, or the tech entrepreneur in Dallas, mayors have a unique insight into the diverse benefits that exporting delivers to the American economy and how trade helps American families on the local level. Because of that, mayors from a host of cities have been highly engaged with the Obama Administration on this issue.
Mayors from across our country are expressing support for the President’s trade agenda and the benefits they will bring to their communities all over the country.
Here is a look at what our mayors are saying:
Letter to House Leadership
“On behalf of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, we the undersigned mayors urge the House to adopt Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA 2015) that establishes high standard objectives for future trade deals, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, currently being negotiated by the Administration….We believe that inclusion of enforceable labor and environmental standards, transparency, uniform tariffs, protection of intellectual property rights, and other standards and objectives will result in increased global trade that promotes fairness throughout the global trading system, and therefore increase U.S. competitiveness. TPA is a critical step to ensuring that the United States and its metro economies remain leaders in the global market place, while providing appropriate consultation with Congress. Every President since FDR, regardless of political party, has had some form of trade negotiating authority, with the exception of Richard Nixon. Under TPA 2015, Congress and the public will have ample time to review the merits of any deal before a trade agreement is signed.”
“With economic growth and job creation as top priorities for mayors nationwide, it is time for Congress to consider and approve Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA-2015) and its potential to further unlock the economic potential of American businesses and workers through President Obama’s trade agenda. In the 21st century global marketplace, we simply cannot afford the years-long trade agreement battles of the past, as foreign rivals will continue to be aggressive in seizing opportunities from American businesses and workers. With TPA-2015 passed by Congress and signed into law, the United States will have the tools needed to build strong agreements that encourage new business opportunities and create jobs in our cities. AAMA strongly supports enforceable labor and environmental provisions in trade agreements that raise global standards and respect local regulations. TPA-2015 sets forth a strong process to advance the interests of American cities, companies, and workers.”
William Bell, Mayor of Birmingham
"We support President Obama and his focus on Global Trade. Global trade, successful economic development efforts, and jobs for our fellow citizens are inseparable. In Birmingham, we recruit new companies and provide assistance to our existing companies, such as Kamtek, a major supplier of auto parts to Mercedes, Honda, Toyota and other automobile manufacturers that ship vehicles throughout the world; American Cast Iron Pipe, with manufacturing operations five minutes from our City Center, employs more than 1600 individuals who manufacture ductile iron pipe and other products shipped on a daily basis to Europe, South America, the Middle East and other worldwide locations; and Steris Corporation, which recently relocated its Global Specialty Services Division to Birmingham, resulting in 200 new jobs in the City, as the company continues its mission to provide surgical equipment to doctors and medical facilities around the world."
Without the opportunities brought about by global trade, many of the jobs at Kamtek, ACIPCO, Steris and other local companies would be nonexistent. In Birmingham, our companies not only provide high quality products throughout the world, but in providing those products jobs are created, and job creation is a critically important responsibility of all municipal governments."
Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix
"Together, we can build an innovation-based, export economy that works for everyone: large companies, small businesses, entrepreneurs, the middle class, and those working their way into the middle class. Innovative companies spur higher wages throughout our region and they lift every part of the economy. International trade brings in new dollars as we sell our goods, our services and our ideas around the globe. This is where we need to focus. This is where we need to lead.”
John Giles, Mayor of Mesa
“My number one focus as Mayor is to create quality jobs and careers for the residents of Mesa. Many of these jobs come from our small, medium and multinational businesses that are looking to compete in the global marketplace and trade with countries all across the world. Enacting smart, innovative trade agreements will help Mesa businesses like Apple, Boeing and many others continue to thrive and create new opportunity in our city. Through successful passage of Trade Promotion Authority, I look forward to the continued growth of our local, regional and national economy for many years to come.”
Sam Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose
"Silicon Valley corporations and businesses are fueling economic and job growth here in the world's innovation center, establishing one of the largest export markets in the United States. Over $23 billion in merchandise shipments were reported in 2013. President Obama’s leadership in negotiating new trade agreements with the European Union and Trans-Pacific Partnership will expand market opportunities for San Jose and Silicon Valley businesses, who in turn will generate thousands of middle class jobs and broaden prosperity for all our residents.”
Robert Garcia, Mayor of Long Beach
The importance of trade to the City of Long Beach and the Southern California region cannot be overstated. The Port of Long Beach alone accounts for nearly 30 thousand regional jobs and 50 billion dollars of economic activity throughout the region. The President’s ambitious trade agenda is critical to maintaining the vigorous commerce that is the economic engine of California and the United States. We can support strong international trade and ensure that American workers and entrepreneurs have the protections they deserve.”
Chris Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento
"The Sacramento Valley is our nation’s rice basket, but the stability and sustainability of our rice farms depends on global exports, particularly in the Trans-Pacific Partnership region where rice is a staple commodity. Our economic strength as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital is based on the more than $2 billion we export in crops and food products each year, and on the international food companies that increasingly call my city home due to our agricultural industries and the Port of West Sacramento that helps get our exports to the world. And it isn’t just food. Our manufacturing and technology sectors are exporting more than $3 billion every year.”
With high-standards trade agreements and a renewed Export-Import Bank, we could easily double down from the more than 1,700 companies in our region already exporting today. The baker in my town who sees an opportunity to export her cupcakes to Indonesia shouldn’t be shut out because she’s paying her employees a middle-class wage and because she’s meeting strong food-safety standards. We’re a productive, creative, innovative region that depends on American leadership in the world to ensure our local and national prosperity. That’s why I strongly support trade promotion authority for the President so that he can open up fast-growing markets by reducing trade barriers and raise the global standard for protecting consumers, workers, and the environment so our local companies and their employees aren’t penalized for American values.”
Carol Dutra-Vernaci, Mayor of Union City
“President Obama's trade initiative is important not just to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area but to our nation as a whole. Companies that export products tend to pay higher wages than companies that do not export. The businesses and the jobs they create are so important to the economic growth of our country. As mayor of Union City, I continue to focus on economic development to grow our city revenue and use the revenue for services to enhance my residents’ quality of life.”
Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento and U.S. Conference of Mayors President
“TPA makes possible fair, enforceable, high standard trade agreements that create jobs, increase exports and help our local economies compete in an ever changing global economy. Through TPA 2015, American workers will benefit by having access to the world’s rising consumers who want to buy American-made products for their quality and innovation.”
Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver
“As Denver continues to expand its global reach, we need access to new market opportunities for our local businesses and to international companies looking for a home base here in the U.S. Because we all compete in a global economy, and trade helps our Made-in-America products and local industries thrive, I am on board with President Obama’s trade agenda.”
Bob Buckhorn, Mayor of Tampa
"The ability for us to trade with other countries and to do it and at the same time reduce tariffs, and open up marketplaces and break down barriers, is critically important for Florida businesses. I mean, I see it every day. I see it in the growing business at the port. I see it in the billion-dollar expansion of Tampa International Airport. Opening up opportunities for tourism, for trade, for direct foreign investment is absolutely critical to the Tampa Bay area…There are 3,800 companies in the Tampa Bay area that export. And so to break down these barriers and to break down these walls, and to open up markets, is absolutely important for us as Floridians...I applaud the President for making this a priority, and I am hopeful that we will get this trade promotion legislation passed.”
Rick Kriseman, Mayor of St. Petersburg
"Trade is vitally important to Florida, to Tampa Bay and to my city, St. Petersburg. We welcome increased high-standard free trade opportunities because we know that there is great potential and there are significant untapped markets for us to take advantage of. Florida averages about $13 billion annually in goods to just the markets that have been identified in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And 21 percent of Florida’s total goods exports went to the entire TPP region… I’m really supportive of free trade agreements that provide businesses with the tools that they need to compete. We know that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is going to include the first-ever chapter that focuses on these issues that create the particular challenges for small- and medium-sized businesses. So that’s really important to us here in St. Pete. And so speaking on behalf of all the businesses in my community, we welcome that growth and we welcome and encourage the legislators in Washington to take up this good policy.”
Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that we’re discussing, and certainly in my case and advocating for, we believe will open new markets, and we think it will bring together existing U.S. trade agreement in the Asia Pacific region. And we also believe that, very importantly, not only expanding and opening new markets, but leveling the playing field for businesses… I do encourage and join my colleague mayors in encouraging the Congress to support the administration as it moves speedily toward passage of these trade agreements.”
Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
"Atlanta has grown our economy by looking abroad to new international markets. We understand the facts. Companies that export grow 20 percent faster, pay 20 percent higher wages, and are nine percent less likely to go out of business than companies that rely solely on the domestic market. That’s why expanding the Port of Savannah is such an important step forward for Atlanta and the region. Deepening the Port will allow new Panamex ships to harbor in Savannah, allowing the fastest-growing container port in the country to expand its business even more.
This export activity will support job growth in metro Atlanta and across the state of Georgia. Already more than 150,000 jobs are supported by export and import activity in the metropolitan area. We are seeing more business opportunities because of international trade, but there is still much more to be done. I am certain that the President’s trade agenda will help promote more economic success in Atlanta and Georgia, and I support trade promotion legislation.”
Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville
"Kentucky has had 4 straight years of record-breaking export growth, most of which is generated in the Louisville and Lexington region. Our exporting firms are a critical part of our region’s economic advancement, and I strongly support the President’s work to advance our country’s competitiveness through international trade agreements. The President’s trade agenda supports the work underway in our metropolitan region to help firms export to more countries and to increase the overall number of firms that export.”
Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans
"New Orleans has seen tremendous economic growth over the last five years, and we are now home to one of the largest export markets in the nation. We have a rapidly-growing entrepreneurship scene nestled in one of the fastest growing cities in America, so we want to see the fruits of our labor and the results of our talent exported to markets across the globe. As we look toward New Orleans’ 300th anniversary in 2018, a robust, aggressive trade agenda that ships more American-made products overseas is critical to our future.
If we’re serious about growing and strengthening the middle class, creating good-paying jobs here at home and reducing income inequality, then it’s important we support the President’s plans to boost the Made-in-America label across the world. I commend the President’s efforts to make America a stronger global player, and I look forward to working with him as we expand American exports in a way that creates more opportunities for middle class families to get ahead.”
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore
"Over 40,000 jobs in Maryland are generated by port activity. This all is not to count the other 68,000 other jobs in the city and the rest of the state that are related to the port from manufacturers to distributors that ship their goods in and out of the port. The Baltimore Metropolitan accounts for 56 percent of the state’s merchandise exports. So we export everything and anything from automobiles to farm equipment, to computers and chemicals.
That’s why I'm very supportive of the President’s trade agenda. I see it as a complement to everything that we’re doing here and all of the great assets that we have in our city. I think the trade agenda is another gust of wind behind our sail in Baltimore. And if we can get some more trade deals going in a more timely fashion, I think we can put more people to work in Baltimore, and that’s what I'm about.”
Lester E. Taylor III, Mayor of East Orange
“The City of East Orange is culturally global, but its economy is not. In order to grow, we must collectively work together toward building a stronger middle class where everyone gets a fair shot at living the American dream. My administration has implemented several new initiatives such as trade union apprenticeship programs, economic forums for small businesses and a college and career readiness network to support expanded opportunities for our residents and their children. We are not just giving away the proverbial fish, we are teaching people how to fish. I look forward to supporting the President’s trade legislation because it will boost our nation’s economy and the economy of every single city in America.”
Bill Bell, Mayor of Durham
“In the coming years, I’ve been told almost 80% of global world GDP is going to be derived from the eastern and Asian countries, and I believe that means we have to have the level playing field that the President speaks of. It also, importantly, means that we have to have fair trade tariffs which will allow American companies to enter eastern, Asian markets. North Carolina exports are critical to many of our companies, many of which are small and medium sized businesses. We had in excess of $33 billion of goods that were exports from North Carolina in 2014, and that was up about 72% since 2004. We have over 10,000 companies that export from North Carolina in 2014, and over 87% of those companies are small and medium sized businesses. We probably had 164,000 jobs that were estimated to be supported by exports of goods from North Carolina in 2014. The trade plan really provides an opportunity for North Carolina exports to get what I consider unprecedented access for exports to non-FTA, TPP countries, such as Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. Specifically in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, we had about $1.1 billion in chemicals, about $786 million in computers and electronics, $230 million in machinery, over $117 million in manufacturing, and printing products over $45 million. So we stand to benefit, undoubtedly, from the proposal.”
Michael Coleman, Mayor of Columbus
"Great cities are global cities, they thrive economically and they thrive culturally. We want our citizens to be global citizens – and to do that we have to increase our economic ties to the rest of the world. We know that 95% of the population of the world lies outside of US borders. We also know that increasingly our small and local businesses in Columbus and across the United States will have to look globally to sell their goods and expand their business. I am proud to support the President’s trade agenda because it highlights the significance of exposing our small businesses to international markets, which will in turn strengthen the economies of our cities.”
Denny Doyle, Mayor of Beaverton
“…It's really important that we smooth the way for our small businesses to go ahead and begin to become good exporters. In Oregon, there’s about 6,000 companies that do export. Of that 6,000, 5,200 are all small companies. And that’s where the growth always seems to happen here… We need to take this global challenge seriously and establish ourselves as players throughout the world -- the new approaches are certainly going to solve some problems that we know existed in past agreements and that’s great, I'm glad the administration is taking this one on.”
Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia
"We mayors and small businesses don’t have time for the abstract, ideological debates in Washington. We just know that we need to grow jobs in our cities and small businesses, and that’s why we support opening markets through trade agreements.”
James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls
“Rhode Island, and specifically Central Falls, was at the center of the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and is known for its rich history of manufacturing and industry. The success of the President's trade agenda means jobs for the residents of Central Falls and a boost to the revival of manufacturing in the region. Fair trade agreements will benefit the United States in general but will truly have a local impact in communities like Central Falls. We have already seen an economic turnaround during the President's administration, and I'm optimistic that positive momentum will continue with his strong trade agenda.”
Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Mayor of Charleston
“President Obama is committed to creating a level playing field for America with his new Trade Agreement. To be able to provide the opportunity for our community to have access to world markets which can provide diverse benefits to our local and global economy is a goal we, as Mayors, support. We have worked hard in Charleston in support of deepening our harbor to allow for the post Panamax ships which will be essential in transporting cargo through the canal. We will be ready here to see additional business and rapidly growing markets with a new Trade Agreement. Opening all of our local businesses to an expanded market would bring additional jobs to our local families and boost our local economy.”
Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia
“Recognizing that over 90% of America’s Gross Domestic Product is being produced in cities and metropolitan economies – we expect those numbers to grow, and everyone should create jobs to benefit our constituents, both small businesses and large businesses. Moving forward for the next several decades, we need to make sure that we have good, strong, fair rules, to protect American jobs and American workers. We can’t let countries like China and others set weaker rules that threaten American jobs and workers. We are excited about AAMA’s support of this effort, and look towards engaging the press today, and certainly continuing to engage with our friends and colleagues in Congress to ensure the passage of TPP, and ensuring the President continues to have authority.”
Karl Dean, Mayor of Nashville
"We know that from the Nashville region, companies are able to access markets around the world. Nashville ranks among the top cities in the country for export growth, and international trade has been a key driver for the creation of good-paying jobs.”
Kim McMillan, Mayor of Clarksville
“Like many other mid-sized cities, Clarksville’s economy is largely based on good paying jobs. Of course, opening more doors to trade creates opportunities for our small businesses but it also increases opportunities for jobs in our city. With a dedicated and talented labor force in place, Clarksville is ready to support and be a partner in international trade.”
Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston
"As the mayor of the city that is home to one of the world’s busiest ports, I applaud the President’s approach to trade. The Port of Houston supports more than a million jobs in Houston and throughout Texas and has a statewide economic impact of nearly $180 billion. Trade, literally, helps put food on the tables of working Houston families. It is critical for my city that we have a trade policy that allows the U.S. to compete with the rest of the world.”
Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas
"We need to compete globally. Globalization is taking place, and we have got to shape that and make sure we get our fair share here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area… But more importantly, as well, making sure we’ve got the right deals with nations across the world. That’s what [Ambassador Froman] is doing, and I support the White House and his efforts in that.”
Ivy Taylor, Mayor of San Antonio
"San Antonio is on an excellent trajectory with regard to developing global trade, which is a major component of our economic development strategy. President Obama’s emphasis on the domestic benefits of expanding international commerce fits perfectly with San Antonio’s approach. In the past ten years, we have grown our local exports by $5.2 billion, second-fastest out of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. Exporting and foreign-owned businesses provide a significant source of employment in our region, with an estimated 70,000 jobs in the San Antonio MSA tied to international business activity. By 2025 we expect to triple the region’s exports and create 13,000 additional direct export jobs, as well as increase the number of companies exporting by 50 percent. We know we can accomplish these goals given our competitive advantages—and an assist from the White House!”
Jesus Ruiz, Mayor of Socorro
“The City of Socorro sits on the second largest metropolitan area in the US-Mexico border and the second busiest port of entry in the Southern United States. Trade is extremely important to the Borderplex as our farmers, manufacturers, and employers all benefit from it. Over 250,000 people in the Borderplex have jobs in manufacturing and more than $90 billion in trade is generated every year. The trade agenda of President Obama will provide us with access to more markets where we can sell our goods, create more jobs, and ultimately, bring in more revenue.”
Marilyn Strickland, Mayor of Tacoma
"I cannot underscore enough how important trade is to the state of Washington. Forty percent of all jobs in Washington State are tied to exports. And we also know that 79 percent of global economic growth is happening outside of the U.S. So supporting the President’s trade agenda, including getting reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, is very important to all of us. In the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan region alone, we are the fourth-largest export market in the U.S. And 400,000 jobs are supported by exports from Washington State. We also know that we have farmers in eastern Washington, manufacturers in western Washington, and just a very strong dependence on good trade to support family wage jobs.”
Ray Stephanson, Mayor of Everett
“International trade is the single largest driver in the Washington State economy. The City of Everett and Snohomish County experience first-hand the positive impacts of trade in our burgeoning aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors, expanding port markets, and an unprecedented industrial growth throughout the region. Ninety percent of companies that export from Washington State are small businesses, the backbone of our economy. The best way we can support them is to help them gain more customers. With many mayors, I support the Administration’s efforts to pursue high standard 21st Century trade agreements that create jobs, increase exports and compete in a highly competitive globalized economy in the Pacific Rim and Europe. Together with the long-term renewal of the Export-Import Bank charter, we must ensure a level global playing field for U.S. exporters, small business, workers and families.”
These statements were made by Mayors in a variety of forums, including press calls and local events.