Business in America News
- Posted byon April 5, 2012 at 4:12 PM EDT
Earlier this week, I was back in my home state of Iowa talking with tech entrepreneurs about the Administration’s progress leveraging technology to innovate with less, improve transparency and efficiency, and better serve the American people. As fellow tech junkies, we spent plenty of time talking about Government’s role in open data, application programming interfaces to Federal systems and more. But we also had a chance to talk more broadly about the vital role start-ups and small businesses play in strengthening our economy, creating jobs, and nurturing innovation.
President Obama recognizes the critical role these types of high-growth startups and innovative entrepreneurs play in creating an economy that’s built to last. That’s why back in the fall – and again in his State of the Union Address – the President put forward a series of specific proposals to ease regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from accessing the capital they need to grow and create jobs. Today, the President put many of those proposals to work when he signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act – a bipartisan bill that will help encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses.
As the President said at today’s signing, “this bill is a potential gamechanger” for America’s entrepreneurs. For the first time, Americans will be able to go online and invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs. Not only will this help small businesses and high-growth enterprises raise capital more efficiently, but it will also allow small and young firms to expand and hire faster.
- Posted byon April 5, 2012 at 12:49 PM EDT
President Obama today signs the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a bill that enacts many of his policies to encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses. One key element of this legislation will allow small businesses and startups to harness "crowdfunding" as a means of accessing capital. How does "crowdfunding" work, you may wonder? StartUp America asked an entreprenuer, Dana Mauriello, Founder and President of ProFounder, which was created to give entrepreneurs and small business access to an easy and simple fundraising platform. Here's what she said:
- Posted byon April 4, 2012 at 6:58 PM EDT
Earlier today, I joined with First Lady Michelle Obama, to announce a major commitment by forward looking businesses that have launched an ambitious new effort to deliver more than 15,000 jobs to military spouses and veterans in the coming years. This new effort will help deliver jobs that are physically located near bases, as well as thousands of highly sought-after at-home employment opportunities to military families across the country.
Military families are 10 times more likely to move across state lines than civilian families. Home based jobs are especially valuable for military families because they can move with military spouses as they relocate from base to base across the country, accommodate flexible work hours, enable spouses who care for children or elderly parents to work from home, and give home-bound veterans with disabilities new opportunities to have a fulfilling job.
At home jobs with flexible work schedules can also lead to better work life balance, and extend job opportunities into communities often left behind. Military families will also benefit from the new job commitments being announced at nearly two-dozen physical contact centers located in close proximity to active military bases. These contact centers often support military families through: family-friendly scheduling, maintaining service accrual records, enabling the seamless transfer from one contact center to another in an event of a relocation, as well as extensive training and immense growth opportunities from agents to supervisors.
These companies and their associated job opportunities will also be integrated into the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), a Department of Defense-led effort with more than 100 companies in the private sector who have committed to a focused effort on military spouse employment. MSEP was launched by Dr Jill Biden last summer.
Additional information specifics of the commitments can be found at: www.joiningforces.gov/commitments
- Posted byon April 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM EDT
The President believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those working to reach it. That’s why he has put forward a blueprint for an economy built to last - one where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.
Today at the Associated Press Luncheon, the President discussed how his vision differs with the radical vision laid out in the House Republican Budget:
“This Congressional Republican budget, however, is something different altogether. It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It’s antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it – a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last – education and training; research and development – it’s a prescription for decline.”
The President’s approach to reducing our deficit is a balanced approach that asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, achieves significant health savings and enacts sensible spending cuts while making the investments we need to have a strong middle class.
Take a look at how the President’s approach and the Congressional Republican policies stack up side by side:
- Posted byon March 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM EDT
Dr. Jill Biden was at the Mercer County Community College in New Jersey this morning, the latest stop in her “Community College to Career” tour. Last month, Dr. Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis hit the road for a bus tour through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia where they visited community colleges that have formed innovative partnerships with local business leaders to train students with the skills they need to join the area workforce.
Employers today are looking for skilled, educated workers, and they should be able to find those workers right here in the United States. Adam Dalton, a machine shop instructor at the Tennessee Technology Center in Harriman, Tennessee, said that “I have people calling me every week saying ‘I need guys and gals with this skillset, and we need them now.’”
Secretary Solis said that community colleges are becoming more adept and more agile at listening to the needs of local businesses, and are helping pair trained workers who need jobs with the employers who are looking to hire.
- Posted byon March 27, 2012 at 3:17 PM EDT
Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing Federal agencies to expedite permitting and review decisions for key infrastructure projects – a critical step in improving our nation’s infrastructure and maintaining our competitive edge. U.S. business leaders and members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness put out statements in support of the new Executive Order:
NextEra Energy, Inc., Chairman and CEO Lew Hay issued the following statement on the "Executive Order on Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects" :
"America's infrastructure requires continued investment by the private sector and by many government agencies to enhance our global competitiveness and to ensure greater opportunity for the next generation of American entrepreneurs. Such investments in infrastructure, including clean and efficient power generation, are rightly subject to numerous federal regulations to protect the environment, to enhance the health and safety of the American people, to ensure transparency and accountability, and to serve the public interest. Yet the sum total of these regulations, combined with those of states and other jurisdictions, often delay the completion of needed infrastructure projects, or discourage investment in them in the first place.
"President Obama's Executive Order will help reduce regulatory burdens on private and public infrastructure investment in a thoughtful and transparent manner. By encouraging concurrent reviews, avoiding duplicative requirements, and by expediting early engagement with all potential stakeholders, the President's new Steering Committee has the potential to greatly reduce regulatory uncertainty across the nation.
- Posted byon March 24, 2012 at 5:50 AM EDT
President Obama is calling on the House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan transportation bill that would repair crumbling roads and bridges and support construction jobs in communities all across America. According to a new report, 90 percent of these construction jobs are middle class jobs. The Senate passed the bill with the support of Democrats and Republicans because if the bill stalls in Congress then constructions sites will go idle, workers will have to go home, and our economy will take a hit.
- Posted byon March 22, 2012 at 10:30 AM EDT
For too long, too many hard working Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies and put barriers between patients and their doctors. The Affordable Care Act gives families the security they deserve. The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
The new law also includes a number of key provisions designed to help make health care more affordable – and help address the drivers of health care costs. The new health care law is already making a difference. Many Americans are seeing lower costs, and health care spending growth in 2009 and 2010 decreased to record lows.
Here are more ways the law helps control costs for families and small businesses:
- The law’s small business tax credit has lowered health insurance costs for small business owners. On average, small businesses have paid about 18 percent more than large firms for the same health insurance policy. If you have up to 25 employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance, you may qualify for a small business tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits) to offset the cost of your insurance. This will bring down the cost of providing insurance.
- Holding insurance companies accountable for how they spend your premium dollars. In 2011, if health insurers don’t spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollar on medical care and quality improvements rather than advertising, overhead and bonuses for executives, they will have to provide you a rebate for that excessive overhead. The first rebates will be made in the summer of 2012.
- Preventing insurance companies from raising rates with no accountability or transparency. In every State and for the first time ever, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. These efforts are paying off. In the last quarter of 2011 alone, States reported that premium increases dropped by 4.5 percent. And, in States like Nevada, premiums actually declined.
- Recommended preventive benefits without deductibles or copayments. Millions of Americans with Medicare and private insurance have seen their out-pocket costs go down to zero for recommended preventive care like flu shots or cancer screenings now covered with no cost sharing under the law. This puts more money back into people’s pockets, while making sure they get the preventive care they need.
- Posted byon March 22, 2012 at 9:23 AM EDT
Mark Hodesh, the owner of a home-and-garden shop in downtown Ann Arbor, MI, thinks there’s a lot of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act and its impact on small-businesses like his: “A lot of people say it’s a job killer. In my experience, it’s a job creator.”
To maintain a strong staff for the past 12 years, Mark works to provide health care coverage to his full-time employees and sees it as a key component to the store’s success. As Mark says, “We rely on long-term, well-informed good employees to compete with our box-store competition. The best way I know how to attract and keep good people is to have a good benefits package. Health care is a big part of that.”
The Affordable Care Act allows employers to claim a tax credit for up to 35 percent of their health insurance premiums. Mark says that while his insurance rates have skyrocketed over the past 10 years, the tax credit gave him the ability to hire another employee to his current staff of twelve.
- Posted byon March 22, 2012 at 8:32 AM EDT
This afternoon President Obama is visiting Ohio State University to highlight some of the nation’s most advanced energy-related research and development projects. Technological innovation is a key element in the Administration’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to reduce energy costs for consumers while protecting health and the environment—a strategy that focuses on developing cleaner and more efficient energy sources and also on novel ways to help consumers conserve energy and save money right now. That’s why we are pleased to co-host a White House event today at which utility company CEOs from across the country are committing to participate in the “Green Button” initiative.
Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action to provide consumers with easy-to-understand data about their household energy use. At today’s event, nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will sign on to the initiative, committing to provide more than 15 million households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online Green Button. That builds on similar commitments made by utilities in January to provide Green Button capability to nearly 12 million households this year. With that information in hand, consumers can take advantage of a growing array of online services that can help them manage energy use and save on their bills.
Making America a Top Tourist Destination: Commerce and Interior Keep Up Efforts to Increase VisitationPosted byon March 21, 2012 at 6:05 PM EDT
Ed note: This was originally published on thecommerceblog, the offical blog of the Department of Commerce
This month, more than a million visitors from across the country and around the world are coming to our nation’s capital to see the cherry blossom trees that bloom each spring among some of America’s most treasured historical landmarks. From the purchase of airline tickets to dining in area restaurants to staying in hotels, these visitors are infusing millions of dollars into the community and supporting local businesses.
As we search for ways to grow our nation’s economy, we must not overlook the travel and tourism industry as a source for economic opportunity. According to data released by the Commerce Department earlier today, tourism spending increased 8.1 percent in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs, for a total of 7.6 million jobs.
A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 2.5 million more international visitors came to the United States compared with the previous year. These international visitors spent an all-time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.
As this data reveals, the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important engines of our economy—in fact, it is our number-one service export. That is why President Obama recently announced the creation of a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, which charged us with leading efforts to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote travel throughout the United States.
We know that making it even easier to visit America’s most amazing places and working hard to tell folks about what an amazing place America is – whether you travel five or 5,000 miles to get here–will help grow our businesses and create jobs.
America is the land of extraordinary natural wonders and incredible landmarks–from the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building. We have it all right here and have a lot to offer our nation’s visitors.
With over 397 national park units, 556 national wildlife refuges, and 886 units of the national landscape conservation system, a particular focus on strategies for increasing tourism and jobs is by promoting visits to our national treasures. From hunting, fishing, hiking, and learning about our nation’s incredible history and cultural heritage, public lands and water provide plenty of recreational opportunities that can attract travelers from around the country and the globe.
- Posted byon March 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM EDT
Ed note: This post originally appeared on the OMB blog
The Obama Administration has adopted a number of initiatives to promote smart, cost-justified regulation. On January 18, 2011, the President ordered an unprecedented government-review of existing rules. After a period of public comment, over two dozen agencies released ambitious reform plans, outlining hundreds of cost-saving reforms. A small fraction of those reforms, already finalized or formally proposed to the public, will save more than $10 billion over the next five years.
As the plans are implemented, far higher savings are anticipated. Just today, the Federal Register has on display a final rule from the Department of Labor that will bring our warning labels for hazardous chemicals in line with those of other nations. This rule will save employers a lot of money on training and updating of materials; improve safety and health protections for American workers; and reduce trade barriers for chemical manufacturers that sell their products abroad. The overall five-year savings will be in excess of $2.5 billion, most of it in the form of savings for employers. (Stay tuned; significant announcements from other agencies are expected in the near future.)
Today, we are taking another major step toward improving our regulatory system and eliminating unjustified costs. In some cases, the addition of new rules and requirements has unfortunate cumulative effects. Taken in isolation, a new rule may seem perfectly sensible, but it may overlap with existing requirements. The sheer accumulation of regulations can cause real harm, especially for small businesses and startups. As the President said last January, agencies must take into account “the costs of cumulative regulations.”
- Posted byon March 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM EDT
Last week I was in Atlanta, on the campus of Georgia Tech for a “Day of Engineering” Facebook pep rally to kick off the President’s new Stay With It campaign devoted to recruiting, retaining and graduating 10,000 engineers each year to maintain America’s competitive edge. Corporate leaders, educators and students have gathered for dialog and panel discussions on the dire need to increase the number of American engineers. Fourteen universities from across the nation are participating via Facebook viewing parties. Spearheaded by Intel President & CEO, Paul Otellini, who is also a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the Stay With It campaign will provide mentors and other supports to increase the number of American engineering graduates which has fallen woefully behind other surging economies and has led to a shortage of skilled workers for American jobs.
More than 65 companies have already committed to doubling their 2012 summer engineering internships, including Intel, GE and DuPont – making an overall $70 million investment in giving students valuable hands-on experience. In addition, engineering deans from some of the nation’s top universities – including Georgia Tech – have developed a gold seal standard of excellence for colleges and universities focused on improved retention and graduation rates.
The participation of NASA and Intel is particularly important because aerospace and computer technology are clearly the growth industries of the future; but the only way to ensure that growth is by maintaining a constant pipeline of qualified workers. The centerpiece of our efforts to close the skills gap is the engagement of more students in the study of science, technology, engineering and math or the STEM disciplines.
NASA is now embarking on ambitious agenda of deep space exploration that will carry our astronauts to places where we have never been, including an asteroid and eventually Mars. We need engineers to help us design the new rockets and capsules that will carry us there. We need scientists and researchers to help us develop materials to withstand the stresses of deep space exploration, to sustain humans for long-duration stays in space, to make air transportation quicker, safer and more efficient and to aid us in our quest to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos and improve life here on Earth.
- Posted byon March 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM EDT
Ed note: Dr. Jill Biden wrote this op-ed for USA Today.
Danny Anderson is an American hero. He is also a role model — in more ways than one.
Danny spent six years in the Army. He loved serving his country, and when he completed his time in the military, he was eager to find other ways to serve. So Danny decided to use his military benefits to earn his degree and enrolled in Hopkinsville Community College's nursing program. Through a partnership between Gateway Medical Center and Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky, Danny became a registered nurse and is now employed in Gateway's emergency care department.
I met Danny last month when I traveled with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on a five-state "Community College to Career" bus tour to highlight the types of successful community college industry partnerships that are working and can serve as models for the nation.
The impact Danny's community college education had on his life is clear — and is one I see replicated on community college campuses across the country, as well as in my own 18 years as a community college professor.
- Posted byon March 15, 2012 at 11:30 AM EDT
When you think of great American innovators, you think of names like Edison, Ford, Bell and Jobs. But the world’s next great technological breakthrough might be coming to life at this very moment in the basement of an unknown visionary somewhere in America. According to a recent article in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, that is exactly how Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) got started in 1997. With the help of NASA and a unique Federal initiative – the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) -- CRG, which specializes in advanced materials, system engineering and manufacturing technologies, has grown from one man’s basement dream to a company with more than 60 employees, three spin-off subsidiaries and annual revenues of more than $10 million.
As President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation says: “We can create the jobs and industries of the future by doing what America does best – investing in the creativity and imagination of our people.” That is exactly what SBIR does. Established in 1982 and administered by the Small Business Administration, SBIR’s mission is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. Each year, NASA and the 10 other Federal agencies with extramural research and development (R & D) budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate 2.5% of their R&D budgets to small businesses. Since its inception, the SBIR program has awarded more than $26.9 billion. And according to the Dayton Daily News, from 2007 to 2010, nearly $93 million in federal SBIR funds went to 55 Dayton-area companies, including CRG.
- Posted byon March 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM EDT
As of March 15, 2012, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement – the most commercially significant U.S. trade agreement in nearly two decades -- is now in effect. The opportunities this agreement offers to American manufacturers, service providers, farmers, ranchers, and workers are key components of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double American exports by the end of 2014 and support additional American jobs.
President Obama insisted that we get this agreement right, working with Congress, stakeholders, and our Korean government counterparts to address outstanding issues and then seal the deal. Now, greater export opportunities will make American businesses of all sizes more competitive in the global economy, and allow them to support more jobs for Americans in sectors ranging from automobile manufacturing to delivery services to agriculture of all kinds. Tariff cuts will increase exports of American goods alone by $10-11 billion, supporting an estimated 70,000 jobs across the country. Export opportunities will also grow as the agreement opens Korea’s $580 billion services market, streamlines customs procedures, reduces red tape, and better protects American intellectual property rights.
- Posted byon March 13, 2012 at 2:41 PM EDT
Two weeks ago, President Obama formed the Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair economic practices by other countries.
But even as that organization comes online, the President is taking additional steps to ensure that American products are competing on a level playing field with the rest of the world.
That's why he made an announcement this morning in the White House Rose Garden:
We’re bringing a new trade case against China -- and we’re being joined by Japan and some of our European allies. This case involves something called rare earth materials, which are used by American manufacturers to make high-tech products like advanced batteries that power everything from hybrid cars to cell phones.
We want our companies building those products right here in America. But to do that, American manufacturers need to have access to rare earth materials -- which China supplies. Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we’d have no objections. But their policies currently are preventing that from happening. And they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.
The reasoning behind this effort is simple: President Obama believes that it's too important for American manufacturers to be able to compete in these growing industries for the U.S. government to stand by and do nothing.
"We're going to make sure that this isn’t a country that’s just known for what we consume," the President said. "America needs to get back to doing what it's always done best -- a country that builds and sells products all over the world that are stamped with the proud words: 'Made in America.' "
- Posted byon March 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM EDT
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007, including measures to help the sectors that were most severely harmed by the bubble economy that misdirected investment and created too few durable jobs.
After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 429,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years. For the first time since the 1990s, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs. To support a revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs.
Private sector payrolls increased by 233,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point over the last 6 months.
There was an increase in the size of the labor force last month of 476,000. Importantly, the increase in the labor force last month was due in large part to a reduction in the number of workers who exited the labor force between January and February.
Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 24 straight months, for a total of more than 3.9 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. In the last 6 months, 1.3 million private sector jobs were added, the most of any 6 month period in nearly 6 years.
Sectors with net job increases included health care and social assistance (+61,100), temporary help services (+45,200), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), and manufacturing (+31,000). Construction lost 13,000 jobs, reflecting a loss of 15,400 specialty trade contractor jobs. Employment in the Federal government fell by 7,000 jobs.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.
- Posted byon March 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM EDT
This afternoon, the White House honored eleven Champions of Change for their extraordinary service as mentors for startups and small businesses across the country. By sharing their expertise and hard-won experience with first-time entrepreneurs, these mentors are not only “paying it forward” – they are enabling countless American businesses to grow faster and create more jobs.
Some of these Champions have done exemplary work through programs affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), including SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and the Emerging Leaders (e200) Initiative. Others are working to grow regional “entrepreneurial ecosystems” through the Startup America Partnership, a private-sector response to the White House Startup America initiative.
A strong mentor can offer invaluable support to entrepreneurs. Check out this new video on what makes an effective entrepreneurial mentor, drawn from interviews with leaders from the Startup America Partnership, who share their own experience on both sides of the relationship.
- Posted byon March 7, 2012 at 2:19 PM EDT
President Obama met with top business leaders on Tuesday night and he talked about the need to focus on our core strengths in order to grow the American economy: American manufacturing; American energy; American innovation; and ensuring American workers have the best skills and education.
The association, whose members include top executives from some of the largest corporations in the country, gathered in Washington, DC to discuss a report it is releasing today called “Taking Action for America: A CEO Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.” It had been two years since the President last met with the group, and he highlighted many of the gains the economy has made in that time, including the addition of more than 3.7 million new jobs in the private sector and the resurgence of the American auto industry. President Obama also discussed the need to do more than restore our economy to pre-crisis levels -- we need to position ourselves to be competitive in this 21st century economy over the long term and create an economy built to last:
We’re also going to have to make significant investments in American energy. I am very proud of the fact that American energy output is reaching record levels. We are seeing the highest oil production in the last eight years. At the same time, because so many of your companies have become more efficient, we’re actually seeing a reduction in imports -- in fact, below 50 percent for the first time back in 2010, the first time in a decade.
But we’ve got more work to do, and it’s going to require an all-of-the-above strategy. Obviously, folks are getting killed right now with gas prices. And that has an impact on all of your companies, because consumers are more price sensitive when it comes to filling up their gas tank than just about anything else. That means, yes, we’ve got to produce more oil and more natural gas, and we are game for that. It also means, though, we’ve got to invest in the energy sources of the future.