Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale
Manufacturing and Services
Chicago Small Business Roundtable
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
As prepared for delivery
Good morning everyone. I’m delighted to be here in Chicago today, and I’m really excited for the discussion we’re about to have about exporting. I want to begin by thanking each of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us. It is incredibly valuable for us to hear directly from you about what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis.
We’ve just heard from Governor Quinn about his efforts to boost exports from Illinois. When we finish our discussion we’ll have Mayor Emanuel here, who just launched an export strategy for the City of Chicago on April 13th. And you have the members of the President’s Export Council here today, who advise the President on how to increase exports in order to create more good-paying jobs for Americans.
Everyone - the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the President - wants you to export! And even though there are more opportunities for doing business overseas than ever – and more protections too, I might add – it’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are many resources here in Chicago for you. I want to briefly point out the director of our U.S. Export Assistance Center, Julie Carducci (Julie, can you wave?). Working alongside the trade specialists from the Department of Commerce, you have representatives of the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank of the United States in the very same office. The Department of Commerce is also represented here in Chicago by the Minority Business Development Center, which is operated in partnership with the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council and we’ve got Hans Bonner, Shelia Hill Morgan, and Phillip Barreda here today.
These people are here to help small businesses get to a place where they can start exporting, or export to additional new markets. But we have invited you to this discussion today because we know there is more we can do. We want to hear directly from you about your problems and challenges. The more we can understand about the specific barriers that prevent you from expanding your export business, or exporting at all, the better equipped we will be to find new solutions to address those problems.
I am honored to sit up here today with Gene Hale and Glenn Tilton, both members of the President’s Export Council. Just like you, they run businesses, but as members of the President’s Export Council, they have agreed to examine what is working and what isn’t working for our small businesses across America and, through the Council, advise the President on what the government should do to make it easier to succeed as an exporter. We’ll start our discussion in just a moment, but I want to encourage you all to speak freely and to please be as concise as possible because these two are going to use what you say to develop specific policy recommendations that could benefit small businesses here in Chicago and across the country. And with that, I want to thank you all again for being with us, and I’ll turn it over to Gene to get us started.
Thank you everyone, for an incredibly thoughtful and interesting discussion. I think Gene and Glenn have their work cut out for them! Now, I am thrilled the Mayor could join us today because he has exciting things in store for the small businesses of this city. Just a few weeks ago, the Mayor unveiled his own plan to double exports from Chicago’s small and medium-sized businesses, and we are looking forward to supporting him to make this goal a reality. The man needs no introduction, but I’ll humor him anyway. Mayor Emanuel is a native Chicagoan and his public service has taken many forms over the years. He began his career at Illinois Public Action, the state’s largest public interest organization. He served in the Clinton White House, holding the position of Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy. He went on to represent Chicago’s 5th District and serve three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and was also elected to serve as the House Democratic Caucus Chair. After the 2008 Presidential election, Mayor Emanuel became President Obama’s first White House Chief of Staff. And now he’s back in Chicago, having been elected the city’s 55th Mayor on February 22, 2011. It is my great privilege to welcome Mayor Rahm Emanuel to our roundtable today.
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