Since April of this year, the White House Business Council has supported the travel of senior White House staff, Cabinet members and sub-Cabinet officials, facilitating their engagement with business and civic leaders in all 50 states. To-date, we have held nearly 500 roundtable discussions. The purpose of these conversations is two-fold:
A participant asks a question of a panel on American economic competitiveness at the forum for business leaders, Nov. 4, 2011. (Photo by Marcella Dent)
Last Friday, the White House Business Council partnered with Business Forward to bring 150 of these local leaders to the White House for a day-long forum on jobs and the economy. The day was part of our Community Leaders Briefing Series here at the Office of Public Engagement, and an opportunity to continue the conversation we started with these individuals in their communities.
What did we talk about together? For starters, we discussed the President's commitment to supporting the growth and success of businesses and entrepreneurs. We talked about the Administration's commitment to innovation and accelerating economic growth. We talked about the programs, resources and services that businesses can access right now. And we discussed the American Jobs Act, the President's plan to get our economy moving by investing in our businesses, our infrastructure and our workers. As even conservative economists have said, the American Jobs Act would create nearly two million jobs, lower our unemployment rate by one full percentage point and increase our GDP by two percentage points. It's the kind of plan Congress should pass now. And many of the proposals are ones the businesses with whom we have met have asked for.
Tony Macri of the Council on Environmental Quality hosts an interactive listening session with Director of the Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson and Deputy Director Greg Nelson. The listening session was part of the White House Business Council and Business Forward’s day-long forum on jobs and the economy, Nov. 4, 2011. (Photo by Marcella Dent)
Because our job creators are the ones who know what they need to grow, hire and succeed, we did more than talk: we listened. While Congress has delayed on passing the American Jobs Act, the President has said repeatedly that we can't wait to get Americans back to work. And so we asked these private sector leaders from around the country for their ideas.
During breakout sessions, business leaders broke into small sessions to debrief on the day and discuss how to move forward in their own communities, Nov. 4, 2011. (Photo by Marcella Dent)
Last week's forum was an opportunity to re-engage with 150 business leaders from across the country - to keep conversations going that started weeks and months ago. As Jane Iredale, the owner of a cosmetics business in Massachusetts commented afterward, "I learned a lot that I know will benefit my company. It feels wonderful to be included. Inspires one to work harder."
We couldn't agree more.
Ari Matusiak is Executive Director of the White House Business Council. If you want to offer your ideas for how we can spur job creation right now instead of waiting for Congress, visit our online forum at whitehouse.uservoice.com. Just click "signup" to register and participate.