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  • This Fourth of July week, the President welcomed some newly naturalized Americans, and spent time with middle-class Americans in Denver and Austin, while Dr. Jill Biden wrapped up a week-long trip to Africa. 

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  • Today, President Obama announced the creation of SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector that will strengthen America's small businesses by increasing their working capital. He's also renewing the QuickPay initiative for federal small business subcontractors, which the President launched in 2011.

    If you're scratching your head and asking yourself, "What does that mean, exactly?" — don't worry. We'll do our best to break it down for you.


    Why do we need to strengthen small businesses?

    Small businesses are vital to our nation's economy. Not only do they employ half of America's workers, but they create almost two out of every three new American jobs, and they're often the source of great innovation.

    The Great Recession disproportionately affected small businesses, as they lost 40 percent more jobs than the rest of the private sector combined. Although they're still creating most of our new jobs, 66 percent of small businesses say that they find it "difficult to raise new business financing," according to a recent Pepperdine and D&B study.

    What's more, it often takes too long for small businesses to get paid for their products and services. Estimates show that the average small business invoice goes unpaid for almost two months, and "past due" payments are increasing. This causes small businesses to spend unnecessary funds in order to cover the cash flow issues caused by late payments — funds that could be spent on growing their businesses and creating new jobs instead.

  • President Obama capped off a three-day road trip with a visit to Austin, Texas, where he sat down for coffee with a letter writer, delivered a speech on the economy, and grabbed lunch at a local BBQ joint.

    Relive the President's day in Austin right here. (And, if you want to write the President yourself, you can always do that here.)


    In the morning, the President grabbed coffee with Kinsey Button, who wrote him a few months ago.

    Kinsey Button is a student at the University of Texas at Austin. She wrote the President talking about her family's struggles, after both of her parents lost their jobs.

    Kinsey said she's always been passionate about politics and engaging with this country's most important issues -- but after the government shutdown last year, she wrote in her letter that she felt like Washington wasn't listening.

  • Valerie Jarrett meets with Urban Alliance students and alumni

    Valerie Jarrett meets with Urban Alliance students and alumni at their Washington, D.C. branch. From left to right: Brittney Mayo, Assima Raissa, David McIntosh-Peters, Akira Muse, Andre Williams.

    I had the pleasure this week to meet with a small group of amazing young people at the Urban Alliance Foundation’s Washington branch. Urban Alliance is a program that provides high school seniors with a part-time job during the school year, full-time work experience in the summer, and wrap-around support throughout the year, including professional development, job training, financial literacy, mentorship, and post-high school planning services. Participants in the program receive real-world work experience – thanks largely to opportunities made available by the organization’s business partners and valuable contacts. 

    The two current program participants I met, along with the two alums who joined us on summer break from college, explained how their work experiences gave them a glimpse of their potential futures as successful career professionals. And the results of this approach have been tremendous: 100% of Urban Alliance interns graduate high school on time, 90% are accepted into college, and 80% persist in college. 

    The good news is that all around the country, there are similar, successful programs finding success, closing achievement gaps, strengthening our workforce, and giving every young person a chance to reach their dreams. It is our objective to take these outstanding models of success to scale so that every young person in America, regardless of his or her zip code, has the same opportunity to achieve.

  • Big news: the White House Twitter account just reached 5 million followers! If you're one of them, thanks for following along.

    The White House uses Twitter to connect with people around the country and keep our followers up-to-date on the latest news from President Obama and his Administration. From the President's first-ever Twitter Town Hall held at the White House to launching the Twitter Q&A series "Office Hours," we're continually looking for new ways to connect with the public and answer their questions. We use Twitter, along with other social media sites including Instagram, Google+, and Tumblr, to engage with citizens on issues from the economy to health care. For an inside look at the latest from the White House, you can follow all of our Twitter accounts here.

    To celebrate reaching 5 million followers, we’ve put together a list of @WhiteHouse highlights from President Obama's second term.

    Have a favorite moment of your own or ideas about new ways we could use Twitter? We want to hear from you! Let us know by tweeting at @WhiteHouse and we’ll feature some of our favorite responses.

    Here's a look back at some of our top @WhiteHouse moments from the President's second term.

     

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    After meeting with local officials, faith leaders, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President Obama delivered a statement yesterday evening on the humanitarian situation at the border.

    He first described two of the crucial components of this ongoing crisis. First, the surge of unaccompanied children, and children with adults, is occurring in one concentrated sector at the border -- the Rio Grande Valley. Second, many of these children and their parents are not looking to evade law enforcement; rather, they are being apprehended in large numbers.

    In his remarks, the President reiterated the steps that his Administration is taking to ensure that sufficient resources are being provided to this region of the border:

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the EPA Connect blog. See the original post here.

    What if the key to driving down energy use in commercial buildings came down to one simple idea: Teamwork. We see the power of teamwork all around us. In sports, individuals come together to push each other, help each other, and find out how to work together for the maximum benefit. At work, we achieve more by working together than we could ever achieve alone. So why not take this concept into the realm of commercial building energy use?

    This year, as part of the fifth-annual Energy Star Battle of the Buildings, competitors are harnessing the power of teamwork to reach new heights in energy performance. They’ll build on each other’s successes, learn from each other’s mistakes, and together, find new ways to unlock energy savings.

  • "Let's make this a year of action."

    That's what President Obama said in this year's State of the Union address — and he's been doing his part. Since January, the President has taken more than 40 executive actions to help families across the country succeed.

    The President has helped to make student loan payments more affordable, support equal pay and workplace flexibility, cut carbon pollution, and raise the minimum wage for all workers on new federal contracts. And those are just a handful of the actions he's taken.

    Find out how the President is working to ensure opportunity for all Americans.

    Learn more about the President's actions this year.

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    On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Denver's Cheesman Park, President Obama delivered remarks about the economy, the progress that his Administration has made, and how Republican obstructionism is making it more difficult for Americans achieve their full potential.

    The President opened his remarks poking fun at Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper over their pool game from last night at the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

    "You should not ask him who won," the President joked. "No, no, really, don't ask Governor Hickenlooper who won at pool."

    The President then quickly got down to business, telling the audience exactly what he was there to talk about:

    Every day, we get thousands of letters and emails at the White House. I think it's something like 40,000 a day of some sort of correspondence. And every night, our Correspondence Office selects 10 letters for me to read. And I've been doing that since I first came into office. And it's one of the most important things I do -- it's right there next to my national security briefing and whatever policy issues that we're supposed to be working on -- because it reminds me of why I ran for office.

  • Ed. note: Earlier today, the Director of Presidential Correspondence, Fiona Reeves, sent an email to the White House list. Didn't get it? Make sure you sign up for updates.

    Two weeks ago, President Obama asked you to write and tell him how you're doing. And I can tell you, as one of the people who helps sort through the mail here at the White House, that a lot of you answered.

    You told us how you're feeling about your family, your community, and our country. You shared stories about what's been going well, and what you wish was better.

    So if you were wondering if those letters actually get read, the answer is yes.

    Your stories paint a broader picture of how things have changed these past few years, and I wanted to share a few of them. Here's what folks had to say:

    Desirae, Anacortes, WA:

    "I guess I can tell you about myself now. I am a 26 year old single mother. My son is the light of my life. We live in a small city called Anacortes, located in Skagit County, Washington. It's beautiful here. A lot of the people that live here were raised here, and they have family and friends all around town. For me, it's just my son and I. His father was born and raised here, and the majority of his family is located here, too. We separated shortly after my son's first birthday, though. … I've had to do a lot of fighting to get where I am now, and I feel like I have so much more to do. I think you know what that feels like."

  • President Obama, with Vice President Biden, delivers remarks announcing his intent to nominate HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as OMB Director and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to replace him

    President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks announcing his intent to nominate Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan as Office of Management and Budget Director and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to replace him, in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, the Senate overwhelmingly approved San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The vote was 71-26.

    President Obama applauded the bipartisan majority of senators who quickly confirmed Mayor Castro for Secretary of HUD:

    Julián is a proven leader, a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods. I know that together with the dedicated professionals at HUD, Julián will help build on the progress we’ve made battling back from the Great Recession -- rebuilding our housing market, reducing homelessness among veterans, and connecting neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs that help our citizens succeed.

  • President Obama is on the road again this week, talking about the economy and meeting with working Americans who have written the White House -- from Denver to Austin.

    You can follow along right here. (And, if you want to write the President yourself, you can do that here.)

    The President sat down for dinner with five Coloradans who wrote him.

    The President sat down for dinner with five Americans who wrote him and shared their stories.

    Alex, who works at a furniture upholstery store in Denver, wrote to thank him for calling on businesses to raise the minimum wage.

    Elizabeth, a rising junior at the University of Northern Colorado majoring in mathematics, wrote about how she's struggling to pay for school.

    Carolyn and David, a couple from Denver with six children, wrote to let the President know how they were able to expand their chain of sandwich shops thanks to an SBA loan.

    And Leslie, who's worked as a teacher for 26 years, wrote about the importance of early childhood education.

    "I'm so glad you're here."

    --President Obama to his dinner guests, 7/8/2014

  • President Barack Obama has lunch with Rebekah Erler at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, Minn., June 26, 2014. Erler is a 36-year-old working wife and mother of two pre-school aged boys who had written the President a letter about economic difficulties.

    President Barack Obama has lunch with Rebekah Erler at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, Minn., June 26, 2014. Erler is a 36-year-old working wife and mother of two pre-school aged boys who had written the President a letter about economic difficulties. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Going all the way back to the early days of the campaign, whenever President Obama shook off his schedule and busted out of the bubble, we would say “the Bear is loose.”

    Lately, the Bear has been loose a lot, and this week will be no different. The President is hitting the road on a three-day swing to Colorado and Texas, where he will meet with Americans who’ve written him letters and whose stories – their challenges and successes – resonate with folks from across the country.

    While congressional Republicans continue to block votes on important issues like equal pay and the minimum wage and undertake taxpayer-funded political stunts like Speaker Boehner’s plan to sue the President for doing his job, the President will continue to do everything in his power – with and without Congress – to create economic opportunity for all Americans.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog. See the original post here.

    Congress is back in session this week, and if members have been listening to their constituents they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.

    In March, President Obama and I visited Central Connecticut State University with four New England governors who are leading the charge to reward hard work with a fair wage. Three weeks after our visit, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill raising Connecticut’s minimum wage. And in the last month alone, Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and − as recently as last Wednesday − Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have followed suit.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. He is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. March 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Following Dr. Biden’s visit to Zambia, she traveled next to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), her second stop on a three-country visit to Africa.

    Dr. Biden toured two cities in the DRC – Kinshasa, the country’s capital, and Bukavu, located in the eastern part of the Congo.

    Kinshasa

    In Kinshasa, Dr. Biden met with women entrepreneurs who are creating their own successful small businesses. The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and remains near the bottom of many important economic indicators, so entrepreneurs – especially women entrepreneurs – play a vital role in overcoming these challenges and diversifying the DRC’s economy for the benefit of its people.

    Among the successful female entrepreneurs that Dr. Biden met, Therese Izay Kirongoz’s story represents the important role women play in advancing and strengthening the global economy.

    Therese worked in restaurants while attending engineering school and spent three years developing traffic-directing robots. Now, in addition to running a chain of local restaurants, Therese manufactures and sells the robots and hopes to distribute her product to neighboring countries.

    “Like Therese, the steep challenges that all of you have overcome are truly remarkable. And your success – and your leadership – is instrumental in empowering more Congolese women to be successful,” Dr. Biden told the women entrepreneurs. “But we must do more to ensure that all women have the economic security and opportunities they deserve and their families need.”

  • You might be seeing a lot of news about the economy creating more jobs.

    That's because at the beginning of every month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a report on our country's general employment situation for the previous month -- and this month's showed some good news.

    What's it all mean, and why should you care?

    There's still much more to do to keep moving forward, but we've put together a few key points about how our economy is doing generally. Take a look -- and if you learn something new, pass it on.

    Our country hasn't seen this kind of job creation since the 1990s — and we've been adding more than 200,000 jobs a month for five months straight.

    The 1.4 million jobs added in the first half of this year are the most in any first half since 1999. What's more, this is the first time since September 1999-January 2000 that we've seen total job growth above 200,000 for five straight months.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, and President Obama watch the Fourth of July fireworks

    First Lady Michelle Obama, left, Malia Obama and President Barack Obama watch the Fourth of July fireworks from the roof of the White House, July 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Yesterday, true to tradition, the President and First Lady celebrated the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration with a barbecue, concert, and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn.

  • President Barack Obama Listens During Naturalization Ceremony

    President Barack Obama listens as Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security administers the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This morning, President Obama welcomed 25 new American citizens at a special naturalization ceremony held at the White House. The President celebrated as service members and their families were able for the first time to be called "our fellow Americans" on this Fourth of July, just as they are in ceremonies happening today around the country. The President paid tribute to all those who served and fought for the United States in the Armed Forces, and to the great sacrifice of their spouses and families.

  • Happy Independence Day, everyone!

    This week, President Obama cheered on and congratulated the U.S. men's soccer team; we saw a promising jobs report for June; the President talked about planes, trains, and automobiles in a speech on infrastructure and the economy; and the Vice President reflected on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

    Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.


    52 Months, 9.7 Million Jobs

    Yesterday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that private-sector employment has increased for 52 straight months — the longest such streak on record. Over that time, businesses have added 9.7 million jobs, and the 1.4 million jobs added in the first half of this year are the most in any first half since 1999.

    Find out more about the latest jobs numbers here.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Blue Room of the White House, June 27, 2014.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Blue Room of the White House, June 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated Independence Day by noting the contributions and sacrifices from individuals throughout the history of this country -- from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in our military serving at home and abroad.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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