Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

“It is our generation’s task, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth —
a rising, thriving middle class,”

— President Barack Obama

Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

Business in America News

  • Everything You Need to Know About Insourcing


    What is insourcing?

    After decades of watching American companies take jobs to other countries, we're beginning to see entrepreneurs and manufactures make the decision to keep factories and production facilities here in the United States—or even bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas.

    How do we know this is happening?

    For the past 22 months, the private sector has been hiring—to the tune of 3.2 million jobs. In 2011 alone, we saw private companies bring on almost 2 million new workers, more than in any year since 2005.

    That's good news, even if we still have a lot of ground to make up. And if you dive into the numbers (like those compiled in this new White House report), you'll notice something interesting:

    • Business investment is up, growing by 18 percent since the end of 2009;
    • We're exporting more goods and services to the rest of the world. As of October, American exports totaled $2 trillion -- an increase of almost 32 percent above the level in 2009; and
    • Perhaps most importantly, the manufacturing sector is recovering faster than the rest of the economy. Through the course of the past two years, the economy has added 334,000 manufacturing job, and that's the strongest two-year period of manufacturing growth since the 1990s. 

    Each of those facts is evidence of a growing trend of insourcing.

  • Resurgence of the American Auto Industry

    Secretary LaHood at the North American Auto Show

    Yesterday, the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, with companies unveiling their new vehicles and folks eager to get their first peek. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on hand for the opening events, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and the Labor Department’s Director Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Jay Williams are all taking part in auto show activities this week. 

    The auto industry had a strong year in 2011. It’s easy to forget, but just a few years ago many people doubted whether there would even be an American auto industry in 2011.

    When President Obama took office, we faced the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the American auto industry was hit hard. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the auto industry, and entire communities that depended on a dealership or a parts manufacturer were affected.   

    Both GM and Chrysler faced the stark choice of seeking government support or facing almost certain uncontrolled liquidations, which would have had a ripple effect across the industry, causing at least one million more jobs to be lost. The President refused to let that happen.

    In the face of stiff opposition, the President made a tough choice to help provide the auto industry the temporary support it needed to rebuild their companies and get moving again. This was a difficult decision, and came with significant risk. But the President was not willing to walk away from these workers and this great American industry.

    Today, the American auto industry is coming back, creating jobs and moving cars off the line. Last month, the automotive industry added nearly 11,000 positions, bringing the total number of jobs added in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 36,000. The industry added 100,000 jobs over the course of 2011.

    Since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009, the auto industry has added back more than 170,000 jobs, the best period of job growth in more than a decade. While there’s more work to be done, it’s clear the auto industry is moving in the right direction. 

    In December, we saw auto sales climb for the seventh consecutive month. The Big Three -- Ford, GM and Chrysler -- all saw sale increases for December, and the year as a whole.

    In addition, because of the President’s leadership, we have put in place historic higher fuel economy standards, which will save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and reduce oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. That means families will begin saving money at the pump this year.

    But there’s a lot more work to do to get the American people back to work. The President will continue to fight to restore the economic security for the communities that were hit just a few years back, to strengthen the middle class and rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded.

    Folks in Detroit and in auto communities across the country know what it takes to get the job done. They know a little something about hard work. They know what it takes to fight to rebuild their community and we’ll continue to stand right by their side every step of the way.

  • The Employment Situation in December

    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 to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007.  Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take other steps the President has proposed in the American Jobs Act.

    Private sector payrolls increased by 212,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 200,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.5 percent, the lowest level since February 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was mostly due to employment growth, not lower labor force participation. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.9 percentage point in the last 12 months. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months, for a total of 3.2 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 1.9 million private sector jobs were added on net, more than in any year since 2005. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put even more Americans back to work.

    Sectors with net job increases in December included transportation and warehousing (+50,200), health care and social assistance (+28,700), retail trade (+27,900), manufacturing (+23,000), leisure and hospitality (+21,000), and construction (+17,000).  Local governments lost 14,000 jobs and state government employment was unchanged.

    The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are 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.


  • New Report: Investing in Innovation is Crucial to Economic Growth and Competitiveness

    [Ed. Note: Watch Secretary of Commerce John Bryson unveil the report details live today from 10 am - noon]

    Today, the Commerce Department and the White House sent to Congress the Administration’s plan on The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, fulfilling an important requirement under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law one year ago this month. 

    As the report emphasizes, innovation has been a key driver of U.S. prosperity and competitiveness throughout our history. Government investments in the building blocks of innovation – basic research, education, and infrastructure – have helped fuel and sustain the ingenuity of the inventors and innovators.  Innovation-based economic growth has brought us higher paying, higher quality jobs as well as improved health and quality of life. Federally-supported research has led to world-changing advancements in a variety of fields, including laying the groundwork for the integrated circuit and computer industry; the Internet; advances in chemicals, agriculture, and medical science; and GPS. Millions of workers can trace their industries and companies back to technological breakthroughs funded by the Federal government.  

    In the 20th century, our schools turned out high school and college graduates at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, creating a highly-skilled workforce and boosting innovation.  And Federal infrastructure investments helped electrify the country, make clean water widely available, make air travel more affordable, and construct an interstate highway system. These developments helped businesses compete by opening up new markets to sell their products and services, while keeping costs low. 

  • We Can't Wait to Help Young Americans Find Jobs

    Your first job brings you more than just a steady paycheck – the experience teaches young people life and work skills that serve them long after the job is done. But as our nation continues to recover the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future.

    Today President Obama announced a new initiative, Summer Jobs+, that will make a difference.

    “America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s. That’s why I proposed a summer jobs program for youth in the American Jobs Act – a plan that Congress failed to pass. America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth,” said President Obama.

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.

    A centerpiece of the program will be the Summer Jobs+ Bank , a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings from participating employers that is targeted to launch in 60 days, which will use the same technology that powers the Veterans Jobs Bank that was launched late last year. Employers who want to offer opportunities to America’s young people can find out more here.

    Find out why one intern tells her peers it is "critical" for them to take advantage of this opportunity

  • Helping Small Businesses to Drive Innovation

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted with the Small Business Administration Blog.

    Last week, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for another six years. This long-term reauthorization is good news for the innovative small businesses that these programs support.  SBIR and STTR invest about $2.5 billion a year in America’s most promising small research and development companies. Through SBIR and STTR, federal agencies with large R&D budgets provide competitive awards to help small businesses bring their best innovations from the drawing board to the marketplace. SBIR and STTR operate in three phases, providing support for research, development, and commercialization.

    Over the years, SBIR and STTR have played a role in the growth of firms like Qualcomm, Symantec, and others. From 2002 to 2006, about 25% of R&D Magazine’s top 100 annual innovations came from companies that had received an SBIR grant at some point in their history.
    Despite this track record, the future of SBIR and STTR had been subject to repeated short-term funding from Congress over the past ten years. This new, long-term reauthorization provides certainty and stability for the small businesses that leverage these programs to create jobs. In fact, it strengthens SBIR and STTR, proving more funding for small businesses to drive innovation, create jobs, and grow our economy. It increases the amount these programs can award to small businesses, shortens the timeline for award decisions, and improves the focus on commercializing the innovative products that will change the world.
    SBIR and STTR are a win-win. Federal agencies are able to meet their R&D needs, while small businesses get the chance to bring their innovations into the marketplace. The reauthorization ensures that small businesses will have access to much needed investments. Money from these programs will go directly to small businesses to help them drive innovation, strengthen U.S. competitiveness, and create good jobs.  

  • How One Philly Entrepreneur Went from Unemployed to Employer of Seven

    Looking back at 2011, it's clear that one of the most rewarding parts of working on the White House Business Council has been the opportunity to meet innovative, inspiring small business owners from across the country, Americans who are working hard to create jobs and opportunities in their own communities. This week we are highlighting a few of their stories.   

    After being laid off from various television production jobs and not being able to find her dream job, Rakia Reynolds launched Skai Blue Media in 2008. Her company started with one employee and one client and has grown into a seven-person firm that represents more than 22 prominent clients. Skai Blue Media is now a leader in the public relations industry in Philadelphia, providing business development, marketing, and message strategy to nonprofits, boutiques and restaurants, among other businesses.

    Reynolds’ path to business ownership was fueled by her desire to pave her own way to a stable future in a career that she enjoyed. She makes it work because she has to, and most importantly because she wants to. Setting a proper example for her children is important to Reynolds and her husband, “We want our children to embrace their future, and find inspiration in everyday life. They see how much fun my husband and I have with our careers, and I think that is one of the most important lessons we can teach them; to identify your talents and use them to pursue a fruitful career.”

  • Kentucky Entrepreneurs Share Strategy to Becoming LEED-ers in Eco Supplies

    Looking back at 2011, it's clear that one of the most rewarding parts of working on the White House Business Council has been the opportunity to meet innovative, inspiring small business owners from across the country, Americans who are working hard to create jobs and opportunities in their own communities. This week we are highlighting a few of their stories.   

    Zachary Riles and his wife Laila Alizadeh moved from the Pacific Northwest to her hometown of Louisville, KY with hopes of raising a family there. While looking for a new home, they quickly saw that the green housing options they had grown accustomed to in the Northwest were not available in Louisville or the surrounding areas. That realization was the genesis of  BlueGrass Green Company, a housing supplies company that offers sustainable remodeling materials for eco-conscious consumers, which launched in 2008.

    Today BlueGrass Green Company sells environmentally-friendly, energy-saving products, with an inventory that ranges from zero-VOC paints and solar fans to eco-friendly countertops and natural flooring. The company is committed to only selling items that are non-toxic and made from renewable sources, and are moving towards products made exclusively from recycled materials.

  • Oregon Entreprenuer Shares his Secrets of Surviving a Recession

    Looking back at 2011, it's clear that one of the most rewarding parts of working on the White House Business Council has been the opportunity to meet innovative, inspiring small business owners from across the country, Americans who are working hard to create jobs and opportunities in their own communities. This week we are highlighting a few of their stories.   

    Brant Pollard, a restaurateur in Corvallis, Oregon, thinks Congress should take action on President Obama’s plan to get the economy moving. “The President's plan can provide a much needed opportunity for American business to bridge the gap between current economic conditions and that of a more prosperous climate.”

    Pollard and his wife Carol opened Big River Restaurant in December 1995, when they saw a need for a restaurant which used local organic produce, natural meats and sustainable seafood. To reduce their ecological footprint, Big River strives to use only food sourced directly from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Consequently, their menu supports many of the valley’s hard working farmers, ranchers and foragers.

    The Pollards have expanded beyond the original Big River restaurant, opening a satellite location called 101 Eat & Drink in 2007 and a wholesale bread company called Big River Breads, which was launched to capitalize on the popularity of the bread at served the restaurant. Each morning, hand-formed Italian style artisan breads and other baked goods are delivered to local retailers and out-of-town markets.

  • An Idea that Mushroomed into a Movement

    Looking back at 2011, it's clear that one of the most rewarding parts of working on the White House Business Council has been meeting innovative, inspiring small business owners from across the country, Americans who are working hard to create jobs and opportunities in their own communities. This week we are highlighting a few of their stories.

    Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez were on their way, college seniors slated to graduate from UC Berkeley and take up jobs in investment banking and consulting, respectively. At least until their business ethics professor told them that gourmet mushrooms could be grown on 100 percent recycled coffee grounds. Arora and Velez were intrigued, they became friends, and ultimately business partners and entrepreneurs. 

    After much experimentation and testing, Arora and Velez developed a system ideal for growing gourmet mushrooms out of recycled coffee grounds. Once they got the stamp of approval from a renowned chef – who proclaimed their mushrooms “delicious” – Back to the Roots was born in 2009. Arora and Velez began with fresh gourmet mushrooms, supplying about 500 pounds  per week to Whole Foods and other grocers across Northern California. But as friends and customers started asking how they could grow their own mushrooms at home, Arora and Velez shifted their business model. Back to the Roots developed its Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden, a kit that allows customers to sustainably grow their own gourmet mushrooms at home in just a few days. 

  • President Obama: Extending Payroll Tax Cut Is a "Boost We Need Right Now"

    Watch President Obama's full remarks here.

    President Obama today signed into law a two month extension of the payroll tax cut, which means that 160 million American workers will not see their paychecks shrink starting Jan 1, 2012. The President thanked Congress for ending the stalemate and urged them to keep working to reach an agreement that extends this tax cut as well as unemployment insurance through all of 2012, saying it is the right thing to do for American families and for the economy, and called it "a boost that we very much need right now."

    The extension came after tens of thousands of working Americans turned to the internet to let politicians in Washington know just how much they were relying on that tax break, which amounts to about $40 per paycheck for a family making $50,000 a year, and the President acknowledged just how valuable their contributions had been to the conversation happening in the Capital:

    Finally, I want to take a moment to thank my fellow Americans for bringing their voices to this debate.  I met with several here at the White House yesterday.  I really think it takes courage to believe that your voice can make a difference.  And I promise you, the American people, your voices made a difference on this debate.  Whether you tweeted or called or wrote, you reminded people in this town what this debate and what all of our debates should be about -- it’s about you.  It’s about your lives.  It’s about your families.  You didn’t send us to this town to play partisan games, and to see who’s up and who’s down.  You sent us here to serve and make your lives a little bit better; to do what’s right.  And fortunately, that’s how this week ended.

    The President called on Congress to redouble their efforts to make sure the economy is growing and that jobs are being created, and called this period  a make-or-break moment for the middle class in this country.. 

  • Open for Questions: Women’s Entrepreneurship

    As President Obama has said, “our Nation's doers, makers, and entrepreneurs have proven time and again that, in America, it takes only a single good idea and the courage to pursue it to change history.”

    Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, but women continue to face challenges, including access to capital and lack of opportunities to grow.

    Ask questions and learn more about the federal government’s policies and programs that are designed to help women entrepreneurs at our upcoming “Open for Questions,” session with Christine Koronides of the National Economic Council, and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Associate Administrator for Small Business, Ana Harvey.

    • What: Open for Questions: Women’s Entrepreneurship
    • Who: Christine Koronides, White House National Economic Council, and SBA’s Associate Administrator for Women’s Business Ownership, Ana Harvey
    • When: Tuesday, December 20, at 3 p.m. EST
    • Where: Watch live at and submit your questions via Facebook, Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat or our webform.

    Hallie Schneir is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement

  • Construction Company Owner Says Payroll Cuts Will Help His Business Grow

    President Obama this week urged Congress to extend and expand the payroll tax cut, telling reporters in the White House briefing room that "it's the right thing to do,"  -- not just for the economy, but for American workers and their families. These tax cuts will also have a tremendous impact on America's small businesses, 91.5 percent of which have fewer than 5 employees. The White House Business Council spoke to the owner of one such business in Tallahassee, Florida who says the President's plan will help his business grow, not only through the capital it frees up but because passing it will increase consumer confidence. 

    Growing up, Fred Sanguiliano was surrounded and strongly influenced by his family of Italian carpenters. He learned and loved their trade, working with them until he went to college. Upon graduating college, Sanguiliano was commissioned as officer in the U.S. Navy and served as the First Lieutenant on a Guided Missile Destroyer in the Pacific Fleet.  After leaving the Navy, Sanguiliano embarked on a career in the nonprofit sector, spending the next 23 years working in community-based non-profit agencies. But in 2003, after spending seven years as the chief executive officer of a statewide commission focused on increasing volunteer and community service opportunities in the state of Florida, Sanguiliano decided to leave his job, return to his roots, and start his own construction company in Tallahassee with his wife, Nancy.

    Sanguiliano's company, KeyStone Design, is a small business focused on outdoor living areas, crafting quality stonework for patios, pool decks, walkways, and driveways. Honoring the long line of craftsmen in his family, Sanguiliano has dedicated KeyStone Design to providing customers with the highest levels of craftsmanship. Every KeyStone employee is required to earn a series of certifications and to continue learning their trade as they progress through the company. In return, Sanguiliano makes sure that they earn a living-wage and have a full range of benefits.

    KeyStone’s dedication to quality has translated into passionate customer-loyalty. Sanguiliano spends almost no money on advertising, relying instead on word-of-mouth reviews to attract new customers and keep his business growing. And his company is growing. KeyStone Design plans to hire at least two new employees within the next year.

  • Helping Job Creators Get the Capital They Need

    Today, we can do more to increase the amount of capital that flows into the hands of entrepreneurs at every stage in the growth of their companies. 

    Helping these businesses grow is a top priority for the Obama Administration, as we know that small businesses create most of net new jobs that are added to the economy each year.  We have an economic imperative to make sure we support these firms through creating an environment where they have access to capital markets to help facilitate growth at every stage.

    Over the past three years, we have made great progress in helping small businesses.  The President has signed into law 17 tax cuts for small businesses, from greater expensing provisions to the President’s signature call to eliminate capital gains taxes on certain investments in small businesses as well as two new small business lending funds.  SBA loans also had an all-time record year. Right now, the President continues to call on Congress to cut payroll taxes in half for nearly 6 million small businesses, providing even more incentives for them to hire and grow. 

    Startups and high-growth firms – the biggest job creators – have different capital needs than other small businesses.  That’s why almost a year ago, we launched Startup America, a White House initiative to create the best possible climate for high-growth entrepreneurs across the country. Today, at the Startup America Partnership board meeting hosted at the White House, we are announcing two important initiatives that show how we are working to specifically address the needs of startup businesses.  And the President is calling on Congress to do more.

    First, today we’re announcing that the Administration has taken action to create a new Early Stage Innovation Fund through SBA’s existing Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.  We’re making $1 billion available over the next 5 years to match private capital in funds that invest in early-stage, high growth-potential startup companies. SBA’s existing SBIC program just had a record year of helping over 1,000 businesses get $2.6 billion in capital, and created new vehicles like SBA’s first Impact Investment Fund, which recently launched in Michigan.

    At the same time, the independent Startup America Partnership has mobilized commitments from more than 50 private-sector partners to deliver over $1 billion in value – from free software to free consulting and legal services – to 100,000 startups over the next three years.

    And there’s more action we can take.  In September, when the President announced his American Jobs Act, he called on Congress to take specific steps to help small businesses raise the funds they need to innovate and grow.  Consistent with this call to action, the President is urging Congress to work on a bipartisan basis to develop these ideas by passing legislation related to:

    • Crowdfunding:  Nonprofits have already harnessed the power of online fundraising and social media to help meet their mission.  In a similar way, we can create an appropriate regulatory framework for small businesses and startups to raise the capital they need from many small-dollar investors, while ensuring investor protections.
    • Regulation A “Mini-Offerings”:  For small businesses seeking to raise less than $5 million, there is an existing exemption from certain SEC requirements.  But very few businesses are taking advantage of this “Regulation A” exemption today.  The President has called for raising that limit to up to $50 million, making it easier for small companies to raise the capital they need to grow.
    • Creating an On-Ramp for Emerging Growth Companies:   For emerging growth companies, the vast majority of new jobs are typically created after they “go public.”  Yet from 1995 to 2010, listings on U.S. exchanges shrank from 8,000 to 5,000 while listings on non-U.S. exchanges grew from 23,000 to 40,000.  In March, after we held an Access to Capital conference, entrepreneurs and other private sector stakeholders formed an “IPO task force” and reported back to the Treasury Department with recommendations to help scale regulations for emerging growth companies while providing strong investor protections. Some of these ideas are being explored by Congress and the Administration right now.

    While moving quickly to pass these initiatives, Congress must develop these proposals in ways that will continue to protect American investors. Over the past few months, we have begun to make real progress.  Members on both sides of the aisle have supported legislation consistent with the ideas that the President called for.  Legislation has passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. And last week, these issues were highlighted at a Senate Banking Committee hearing where Chairman Tim Johnson noted “This is an issue where I believe there is real potential for bipartisan cooperation.” 

    Overall, efforts like these could help improve liquidity for entrepreneurs, and help jump-start the innovative American companies of tomorrow.  At the same time, we need to ensure that as we develop these initiatives we are taking necessary measures to ensure that investors are protected – and the Administration will continue working with Congress to achieve this outcome.

    The President, both of us, and leaders across the private sector understand that “one size doesn’t fit all” when it comes to helping small businesses, especially startups and high-growth firms.  Let’s make sure they can get access to the kinds of capital they need to grow and create the jobs we need now. 

  • Calling All Innovators – Health Care Innovation Challenge Open for Great Ideas

    Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Affordable Care Act, launched the Health Care Innovation Challenge, which will award $1 billion in grants to applicants who will implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health and improved care at lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—particularly those with the greatest health care needs.

    The Challenge is a signature initiative of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and promises to catalyze new approaches that support health care delivery transformation. It offers an unprecedented opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs who have been working tirelessly on new care improvement models but have often faced great difficulty bringing them to the patients who need them in today’s reimbursement environment. This Challenge will help us by:

    1. Identifying new ways of paying for health care that improve care at reduced cost and can be scaled nationally by CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services.
    2. Engaging a wide variety of innovators to help come up with new and promising ideas.  Interested parties of all types are welcome to apply.  Doctors, nurses and other care providers, hospitals, health systems, payers, technology entrepreneurs and other private sector organizations, faith-based organizations, local governments, and public-private partnerships are some of the professionals and organizations we expect to apply.  In addition, certain organizations may apply as conveners to assemble and coordinate groups of participants.  
    3. Helping to create jobs. The Challenge gives priority to applicants that identify opportunities for job creation.  By rewarding public sharing and rapid deployment of such ideas, the Challenge will boost our ability to deliver on the promise of health care delivery innovation.  We also believe that by attracting top talent to the health care sector and identifying pathways for innovators to build rewarding careers in this industry, we will both solidify our position as the world’s most competitive healthcare workforce and also help strengthen the foundation for better health for our citizens well into the future.
    4.  Encouraging “enhanced infrastructure” to support more effective system-wide function.  In this context, we hope this Innovation Challenge will serve as a call to action for technology and data innovators to team with care innovators to propose solutions that can be implemented with speed and have the capacity to scale.
    5.  Promising smart answers fast. We need your “letters of intent” by December 19th, 2011, with full applications by January 27th, 2012. Winners will be awarded by March 2012 with three-year grants ranging from $1 million to $30 million.  

    Some of the greatest transformations American healthcare has seen have come from sources outside its traditional boundaries — for example, health care has borrowed widely from the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries to innovate.  So please share this post far and wide to innovative thinkers in every corner of American industry – even to those who haven’t yet actively engaged in the health care delivery sector.  There’s never been a better time to innovate in health care – as more and more of the information required to power innovations that safeguard and improve health becomes available and accessible, and as the health care system begins to reward providers for keeping patients healthy and delivering value, not just volume.  Answer the Health Care Innovation Challenge, and play your part in improving the nation’s health care system by proposing new ideas that deliver better health and improved care at lower costs to people with Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP.

  • President Obama: "In America, We Are Greater Together"

    20111206 POTUS in Osawatomie

    Members of the audience listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Osawatomie High School in Osawatomie, Kansas, Dec. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    More than a century after Teddy Roosevelt outlined a vision for a "New Nationalism" in a Kansas town called Osawatomie, President Obama visited the same community to talk about what he called a make-or-break moment of the middle class.

    He described how the world has undergone an economic transformation unlike any other in our collective history -- and how that change has upended our expectations of social mobility in this country. Where professionals ranging from factory workers to travel agents to accountants once enjoyed the promise of a good job and steady income in exchange for their hard work, today they and a range of people like them must compete with new technology and individuals from around the world. 

    The President told the 1,200 people gathered in Osawatomie that there are two ways to respond to these challenges.

    Some in Washington, he said, argue that we should let the markets take care of everything -- rolling back regulation and slashing taxes:

    Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker.  But here’s the problem:  It doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression.  It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.

    Thankfully, President Obama said, we can choose a different path:

    [T]here’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country -- a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years.
    It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together -- when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share. 

    Read the entire speech here.

  • School Lunch Pioneer Says the American Jobs Act Will Help Him Make Great Hires

    The White House Business Council invited small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to a forum we hosted with Business Forward earlier this month. While they were here, we spoke to some of the people we met about the secrets of their success, and found out how the American Jobs Act will enable them to grow even more quickly in 2012.

    The Bridge to Work provision of the American Jobs Act will enable Justin Gangon's California company, Choicelunch, to offer training in the extremely marketable food service industry to disadvantaged youths in 2012. Provisions in the President's comprehensive plan to immediately put workers back on the job and put more money in the pockets of working Americans will also help the company optimize long-term employee retention by allowing both Choicelunch and prospective employees to determine a better fit prior to hiring. Gangon, a co-founder, says the American Jobs Act will help him grow his business in 2012:

    "In doing my initial research, I believe the Bridge to Work provision could be a great benefit.  We have a lot of employees who have been with us for years, and we've had people walk-off the job in the first few hours after making it through a lengthy interview process because they didn't fully realize what it would entail (even though we allow them to observe the work performed and detail the job at length). Ultimately, putting people in a job on a provisional basis is as good for the employee as it is for the employer - both sides get to assess if it's a good match and the probability of long-term success, retention and job satisfaction increases."

  • President Obama Announces $4 Billion Investment to Make Buildings More Energy Efficient

    President Obama and President Clinton tour Transwestern Building

    President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton take a tour of the upgrades of the Transwestern Building in Washington, Dec. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    This morning, President Obama met with former President Bill Clinton to announce the next piece of the "We Can't Wait" campaign -- a $4 billion effort to improve energy efficiency in buildings across the country.

    The two were joined by Tom Donohue -- the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- and Randi Weingarten -- the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

    The group toured a building in northwest Washington that's currently seeing an efficiency upgrade. That improvement employs around 250 full-time workers and will save the building $200,000 a year on its energy bills.

    Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways for us to create jobs, save money, and cut down on harmful pollution, President Obama said:

    It is a trifecta, which is why you’ve got labor and business behind it.  It could save our businesses up to $40 billion a year on their energy bills – money better spent growing and hiring new workers.  It would boost manufacturing of energy-efficient materials.  And when millions of construction workers have found themselves out of work since the housing bubble burst, it will put them back to work doing the work that America needs done.  So this is an idea whose time has come.

    As part of today’s announcement, President Obama directed all Federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two months. Additionally, 60 private companies, hospitals, cities, states, colleges, and universities, among others, have collectively committed another $2 billion in energy efficiency retrofits to 1.6 billion square feet of property—roughly the equivalent of 500 Empire State Buildings.

    The investments announced today are part of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which set a goal of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The initiative will reduce energy bills for businesses by $40 billion per year, and one report found it could create up to 114,000 jobs.

    More information:

  • Nevada Entrepreneurs Say Passing the American Jobs Act Would Encourage Them to Create New Jobs

    The White House Business Council invited small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to a forum we hosted with Business Forward earlier this month. While they were here, we spoke to some of the people we met about the secrets of their success, and found out how the American Jobs Act will enable them to grow even more quickly in 2012.

    In 2008, John McCarty and Patrick O’Flaherty teamed up to reinvent the light fixture. O'Flaherty, a 20-year veteran of the lighting industry, designed LUX dynamics’ fixtures to save energy while McCarty, who is an architectural engineer, applied his past experience bringing innovative products to market to find an audience for the fixtures, which are made of lightweight extruded aluminum rather than pressed steel for a long-lasting design. They are also intentionally easy to install, a key differentiator in the marketplace, and save users and contractors money while also conserving energy.   

    Today the fixtures are used in commercial/industrial applications such as school gyms, sports arenas, and correctional facilities but in the beginning, it wasn’t clear that McCarty and Flaherty would be able to produce their innovative designs, which could not be built using conventional equipment. McCarty says, “We had to make a choice to either change our design to something that was similar to what manufacturers’ already made or start from scratch making light fixtures in an entirely new way. We chose the latter, which enabled us to make better products, revolutionizing the industry.”

    LUX products are all made in the USA and the company partners with Alpha Production Technologies, a Sparks, Nevada organization that employs people with disabilities, to manufacture subassemblies. At least half of the components are purchased from businesses in Reno and  Sparks. The American Jobs Act would enable LUX dynamics to grow their business and create more jobs in Nevada.  “The investments in renovating/modernizing schools with energy efficient measures would increase our potential business opportunities since our primary market is manufacturing energy efficient lighting for schools,” says McCarty. “And the hiring tax credit would encourage me to create the jobs needed for us to grow.”

  • Florida CEO Praises "Non-Partisan Tactics" in President Obama's Jobs Plan

    The White House Business Council invited small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to a forum we hosted with Business Forward earlier this month. While they were here, we spoke to some of the people we met about the secrets of their success, and found out how the American Jobs Act will enable them to grow even more quickly in 2012.

    Matthew Smith’s company, Shoes for Crews, is the global leader in slip-resistant footwear. Smith, the CEO, says he has “footholds” in many of the largest food service and hospitality chains in the US, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, YUM  Brands, MGM Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment; employees at those companies wear his shoes, helping eradicate employee slip and falls - the primary cause of work-related injuries and worker’s compensation costs in this industry.

    Employees at over 140,000 workplaces in the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia wear Shoes for Crews products, and Smith says he is gearing up for further global and domestic expansions. He has more than 500 employees world-wide, with over 220 working in the West Palm Beach headquarters. In the last year, Shoes for Crews has hired 25 new executives, managers and entry level employees.  

    The business was founded in 1984 by Smith’s father, Stanley Smith, who was producing a small collection of footwear for nurses out of the family apartment. The business was transformed when Arna Smith, Stanley’s wife, tried selling the nurses shoes to Burger King. Her contact at the burger chain suggested that if somebody could invent shoes that “gripped” on the slippery floors of a restaurant, it would be a great idea. The Smith family took this idea and ran with it.

    The American Jobs Act would enable Shoes for Crews to continue expanding. “Payroll tax cuts for new hires, regulatory reforms, extending the 100% expensing incentive, and tax credits for hiring the long-term unemployed are non-partisan tactics that should be universally approved by the business community at large, as long as they don’t increase the long-term deficit of the USA,” says Matthew Smith.