Remarks by Vice President Harris at an Economic Coalition Opportunity Event
Brooklyn, New York
3:15 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello. Good afternoon. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Please have a seat. Have a seat. Blondel, it has been so wonderful to be with you this afternoon. Where are you? I think he walked. (Laughter.)
So I’ve just so thoroughly enjoyed this visit, and it’s good to be back in Brooklyn but to be with these extraordinary leaders. And you’ve heard from the Deputy Secretary, from the Administrator, from the Lieutenant Governor.
This really is a model. What you are doing here, what this community is doing is really a model of — of the capacity of our nation. And I am here to celebrate what has occurred here and what continues to happen here, but to also lift it up, to show folks around our country what is possible when you bring folks together from all sectors who understand the capacity of communities, the talent of communities that is there and just requires a little support. It’s not that we’re creating it in the community; it already exists.
So this is about giving access to all the support that a lot of other communities may otherwise take for granted in a way that we can actually build the strength of our nation. So I am thrilled to be here with everyone.
Before I begin my — my words, in terms of more detail about our visit today, I do want to say something about the GDP report that came out today.
After a year of record growth, our economy is slowing down, but our nation’s economic outlook remains strong.
Today, we have near record-low unemployment, we have a strong job market, and consumer spending is continuing to grow.
That said, we know there is still more work to be done. Inflation is still too high, and lowering costs remain a top priority of our administration.
The agreement reached yesterday between Leader Schumer of New York and Senator Manchin is a major step forward in our fight against inflation.
When passed, this landmark legislation, we believe and are convinced, will lower health insurance costs by an average of $800 a year for 13 million Americans.
It will also reduce the cost of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, address the climate crisis, and create jobs.
In addition, yesterday, the Senate passed — and I just got word the House just passed — (applause) — just happened — legislation to boost the production of American-made, American-manufactured semiconductor chips. (Applause.) It’s really important. You know, until we — some of us, until we experienced the pandemic, we didn’t realize how much we rely on semiconductor chips and that supply chain of them for so many of our basic needs.
So this legislation and what it will produce will bring down the cost of — of cell phones and computers and cars. So it will have a profound impact. And we are excited that these pieces of legislation have now been passed through both the Senate and the House.
And in the meantime, of course, while that is going through its process, our administration remains focused on additional efforts to build a strong economy — an economy that works for all people.
And that’s why we are here today, gathered with leaders from our administration — as I mentioned, the Administrator of our Small Business Administration, Isabel Guzman, who I’ve traveled the country with and I think you for your work; our Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Don Graves, who is just an extraordinary leader, so talented and experienced. We’re — we’re lucky that you have decided to come back to private — I mean, to public service. (Laughter.)
And we are joined by leaders of this great city and state, including, of course, the great mayor, Eric Adams, who is here and has been doing extraordinary work. There he is.
I thank you, Mayor Adams. We have met and convened and talked about your leadership here in New York, in Washington D.C., and the White House, and in many other places. And so I send you best from the President.
And Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, who is here, who I knew from his work in Congress and now he is a leader of this state, and really is one of the shining, bright stars of our nation. So, Lieutenant Governor, I’m glad to be with you this afternoon.
And to all the community and corporate leaders who are here — because this gets me to what we’re about to talk about, which is why we are here and the occasion for this visit.
America is a nation powered by the ambition and the aspiration of her people. The ambition and the aspiration to turn dreams into reality, including the aspiration and dream to start a business, to own a home, to get an education.
That is the energy and the ambition that has always been a driver of America moving forward. It creates jobs, it sparks innovation, it expands the economy, and it makes our nation more competitive.
But achieving that success requires a number of very specific things. And in particular, it requires access to capital. For what? Well, for example, to buy inventory, to make a down payment, to hire employees. And it requires access to financial services — services like checking and savings accounts, home and auto loans, financial education and advice.
And what we know is not everyone in our nation has equal access to this essential support.
Consider, for example: In our nation, Black entrepreneurs are three times more likely to report they did not apply for a loan for fear of being turned away by a bank. That fear being based on the stories and the experiences of their family, friends, and neighbors.
Black and Latino homeowners are rejected by tri- — traditional financial institutions at a higher rate when applying for home loans. And this is the case even when they have credit profiles that are similar to other applicants.
For many Asian American business owners, in particular immigrant business owners, language barriers limit their ability to access capital and banking services.
And people who live in rural communities, including many Native Americans, often lack access to traditional financial services of any kind.
So, like many of you here today, I have worked for years to address these disparities. In fact, one of the last bits of work that I did when I was in the United States Senate was to team up with Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Cory Booker, and Chairwoman Maxine Waters to invest $12 billion in community lenders. Community lenders: financial institutions that predominantly serve overlooked and underserved communities.
These institutions provide loans for small businesses and start-ups; investments in community facilities, like recreation centers and grocery stores; and funds to preserve and create affordable housing.
Community lenders are uniquely positioned to fill the gaps that traditional banks either cannot or will not address.
The folks who run these institutions — many of whom I’ve met and some of who are here — often work and live in the very community that they serve. They see clearly their community’s needs and its challenges. They understand their community.
And they also then see their community’s strengths and its opportunities. And when they make a loan, they then see firsthand the positive impact of that loan.
Over the years, I have consulted with some of the most active community lenders in our nation, including Marla Bilonick, who serves Latino communities in Washington, D.C., and Bill Bynum, who I visited earlier this year in rural Mississippi — both of whom are here with us today.
I have spoken with business owners these lenders fund, and so many others, and have seen firsthand the life-changing impact of the investments they make. And I’ve also seen how much more work remains to be done.
There are still far too many people in our nation who do not have access to the capital and to the financial services they need to thrive.
And I believe, given the breadth of the financial disparities in our nation, the public and the private sector must join forces to take on these challenges.
Just consider our capacity when we combine the expertise and the experience of the private sector with the reach and the scale that only the government can provide.
So, today, we gather to do just that. Today, over 20 private sector organizations — from some of the largest consumer banks and investment firms, to technology companies and philanthropy — are joining with our administration to take action to increase opportunity and to build wealth in historically underserved communities.
Together, these organizations, with us, will invest tens of billions of dollars to provide capital to community lenders; to support entrepreneurship, in particular for women-owned and minority-owned businesses; and to expand access to financial services; and create affordable housing and protect affordable housing.
In the coming months, our administration will work closely with all members of this coalition to make sure that we are maximizing the impact of every dollar that is spent. Because we do recognize that when we create opportunity in communities that have been left out and left behind, our entire nation benefits.
You know, these days, we talk a lot about the economy. Well, let us understand: We all do better as a nation when all our communities do better. It’s that old saying about “the rising tide lifts all ships.” And so that is the spirit with which we do this work.
And today we have gathered in a neighborhood that is living proof of the power of this approach.
By the mid-1960s — I know most of you here know this story, but I’ll share it with the folks who are new. By the mid-1960s, Bed-Stuy was facing tremendous challenges. Decades of discriminatory lending practices had drained the capital and the opportunity from this neighborhood.
And so, to address these challenges, leaders of Bed-Stuy –great leaders like our dearly departed Al Vann, who passed away just two weeks ago; I was speaking with the — General James about that — these leaders came together with national leaders and decided to try something new.
In 1967, they founded the Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation. It — now, this is part of why I’m here: It was our nation’s first public-private community development corporation. (Applause.) That’s right. That’s right. And they’re — and because of its success, it remains not only the first, but a model for all the rest.
For 55 years, Restoration has helped to unlock the potential of this beautiful community by providing job placement for over 24,000 young people and adults; by investing $60 million in mortgage financing for homeowners; and by attracting more than $500 million in investments for this community.
All across our nation, there are places like Bed-Stuy — reservoirs of ambition and aspiration just waiting to be tapped.
The mission of our coalition and the mission of our administration is to match potential with opportunity in every community across our nation.
So with that, I thank you all for all you have done and will continue to do to continue to make us strong as a nation and help us realize our promise and our potential.
God bless you all, and God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 3:29 P.M. EDT