Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
North Carolina State University College of Textiles
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Raleigh, North Carolina
As prepared for delivery
Good afternoon, and thank you all for that kind reception.
It’s great to be here today at North Carolina State University on such a beautiful campus, full of great energy, and home to such a talented student body.
I am honored to be your guest today. However, I must admit that I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be let on the grounds. That’s because I am a graduate of one of your ACC rivals — Florida State University.
And, in college basketball, along with Duke, NC State and FSU are tied for first place in the conference. And, our two schools have a big game coming up in February.
But, for now, let’s put that rivalry aside. Today we are all friends. And, I thank you for letting me on your campus.
In all seriousness, I want to express my appreciation to NC State for inviting me to be here. In particular, I want to thank Chancellor Woodson for those kind words of introduction and for his leadership.
I also want to thank Dr. Godfrey — Dean of the College of Textiles — for his work.
Finally, I want to thank all the students, faculty members and industry partners who helped organize this tour.
It’s been a privilege to visit some of the facilities, including the new nonwovens Filter Pilot Plant and Partners Lab.
Great things are happening here at NC State.
And, I want to thank the University for its efforts to give young people the best possible start in life, in their careers, and beyond.
Make no mistake: your work with textiles is very important. The industry — including cotton and fiber producers — is one of the largest employers in the manufacturing sector. It employs 600,000 people.
And, right now Americans need jobs. Since the financial crisis began in 2008, we all know people who have been devastated. We all have neighbors, friends and family members who have been impacted.
That’s why — since his first day in office — President Obama’s top priority has been putting people back to work.
I know that he was here at the University last year talking about this very subject. He talked about creating good middle class jobs again; jobs that pay well; jobs that offer some security; and jobs that are available for all the young people who will be graduating from NC State.
And, thanks to the President’s leadership, good things are happening. The economy has added private sector jobs for 22 straight months. That’s a total of 3.2 million jobs over that period
But, he knows more work needs to be done. That’s why he continues to be focused on jobs.
As all of you know, the President delivered his State of the Union message last night. In it, he outlined his vision for an economy built to last, an economy that provides opportunity to all Americans from Raleigh to Rhode Island to Riverdale, California and beyond.
Central to this work is supporting manufacturing. Historically, manufacturing has been a backbone of our economy. It’s helped build the middle class. And, it should be an important part of the economy moving forward.
That’s why the work that’s going on here at the College of Textiles is so critical. It bolsters advanced manufacturing. And, it gives young people the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Some people still think that textiles are all about shirts, carpets and draperies. But, they are so much more.
For example, as we’ve seen today, the Nonwoven Institute Partners Lab is creating products to make our air and water cleaner. NC State is also working with industry partners to develop advanced textiles. These are being used in industries from aerospace to transportation.
And, this work is part of a larger trend. The textiles and apparel industry is evolving.
Across the country, U.S. producers have retooled their efforts to focus on higher-value, niche products, to invest more in research and development, and to modernize their facilities and technology.
Clearly, this is a good thing. American-made products have always represented quality and value. They’ve always been the best. And, a firm commitment to advanced manufacturing helps keep them the best — especially in this dynamic global economy.
In fact, Commerce Secretary John Bryson — who started back in October — has made supporting advanced manufacturing one of his top priorities. And, for good reason. Over 11 million Americans have manufacturing jobs.
And, textiles are a big part of this. Here in North Carolina, the textile and apparel industry employed roughly 48,000 people in 2010. This represents 11 percent of North Carolina’s manufacturing jobs.
So, the bottom line is this: building textile products is important to both the local and national economy. But, that’s just part of the story.
After all, no business can be successful if its products just sit on a shelf or in a warehouse. Businesses need opportunities to sell them.
And, the reality is that many of these opportunities are abroad. That’s because 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders.
In fact, Secretary Bryson has a saying — “Build it here. Sell it everywhere.”
As the Under Secretary of International Trade, it’s my job to help U.S. businesses sell their products abroad. This is important because exports provide opportunities. And, opportunities are good for businesses. And, healthy businesses provide jobs to people.
In fact, in 2010, exports supported 9.2 million jobs. And, they spurred growth. Exports contributed to nearly half of the GDP. And, textiles were a big part of this.
Just one quick example: U.S. exports in textile and apparel to the Western Hemisphere grew 33 percent in 2010. In total, this represented $13 billion dollars worth of goods.
That’s revenue entrepreneurs can use to reinvest in businesses and communities. That’s revenue they can use to hire workers. And, as I said, putting people back to work is our Administration’s top priority.
That’s why it’s so great to be here today. The College of Textiles is preparing young people for future success. It’s ensuring that businesses here in North Carolina — and beyond — are producing cutting-edge products.
And, because these products are the best, they are in demand all over the world.
All of us at the Department of Commerce stand ready to help U.S. businesses seize these opportunities and sell their products.
I look forward to working with all of you in the future to fulfill this great promise.
Doing so will support jobs, build businesses and strengthen the American economy
These are goals that even NC State grads and Florida State grads can agree on.
So, let’s work together to support the textiles industry, strengthen the manufacturing sector and help shape an American economy built to last.
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