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From the Department of Commerce Blog:

On the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, [a group of Cabinet officials and others] announced today the launch of a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to help connect small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas....

The first of these New Markets, New Jobs events is scheduled for February 17th in Minneapolis, Minn. Locke is expected to be joined by Kirk, Mills, Hochberg, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, among others. The Minnesota stop will be followed by events in Los Angeles, Calif., Louisiana and Wilmington, Del. in the coming months. The conferences, which were called for in September’s Report to the President on the National Export Initiative, are intended to reach more than 3,500 small and medium sized companies interested in exporting.

Jump with me!

You can actually register for the first of these events in Minneapolis, MN on February 17th.  The events are intended to help Minnesota companies "in the process of selling their products to consumers all over the world" and to share "lessons learned from area businesses who have succeeded in utilizing federal resources to expand into new markets and grow their businesses."

President Obama has repeatedly said that he believes the private sector will be the engine of economic growth, but that government can serve as a catalyst for that growth.  The President has also repeatedly spoken about the US trade deficit, which exploded during the insular 8 years of the Bush Administration and has continued to drag down the economy by increasing debt, outsourcing jobs, and relying increasingly on service-oriented jobs, which creates a "race to the bottom" on wages and hurts our competitiveness.

It's fitting that Minneapolis serves as the location for the first of these meetings.  Minnesota companies like General Mills, 3M, and others have been creating strong brands for years and developing new, valuable products.  Minnesota is also a bright spot in Democratic politics, where Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton took over for Republican Tim Pawlenty.  And as a gateway to the Great Plains, Minneapolis is also a nexus of urban and rural development, a center for green jobs and sustainable agriculture, and a progressive city in America's heartland.

The Upper Midwest has been especially hurt by the policies of George Bush and the Republican Party.  The jobless rate has gone up and the manufacturing sector has been especially hard hit.  Minnesota is also home to the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson.  Evangelical voters have largely voted Republican for the last 30 years, but Obama's populism and focus on issues like healthcare and poverty have been attractive to Evangelical moderates, especially in the Midwest.

The Cabinet's plan to double exports in five years was issued last September, in the midst of the campaign season and the noise over the repeal of Obamacare and the "Fire Pelosi" campaign from the Republicans.  But now that the noise has died down, the "pro-business" Republicans have offered no constructive solutions and plenty of destructive suggestions.

Democrats know that it is possible to be pro-business without being anti-labor, and that being pro-labor means being pro-jobs and pro-exports.  With the addition of Bill Daley as Chief of Staff, President Obama is shoring up his credentials with the business community and engaging in a major offensive to demonstrate that his policies and leadership can bring down the jobless rate and create more opportunity for the American people.

As events unfold in Egypt, it's a good time to remember that American unemployment is especially high among African-Americans, young adults, and other key constituencies.  Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that their jobs are on the line, and that it's time to deliver results for the American people.

Update 10:44 AM CST: The White House is currently launching its "Startup America" project to talk about entrepreneurship and economic growth.  You can watch live now at the White House website.

From the announcement link:

Startup America will:

•Expand access to capital for high-growth startups throughout the country;
•Expand entrepreneurship education and mentorship programs that empower more Americans not just to get a job, but to create jobs;
•Strengthen commercialization of the about $148 billion in annual federally-funded research and development, which can generate innovative startups and entirely new industries;
•Identify and remove unnecessary barriers to high-growth startups; and
•Expand collaborations between large companies and startups.

Originally posted to Benintn on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 08:43 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It looks like he is borrowing a page from the (7+ / 0-)

    German playbook here.  Germany has a hugely successful agency dedicated to promoting German products abroad and helping German small and mid-size businesses find and establish export markets.

    This is a really smart move, imo.

    "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

    by Lawrence on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 09:05:55 AM PST

    •  It could be a very smart move... (0+ / 0-)

      ...if the investment compels actual reduction in unemployment, is measured, managed end-to-end and is not a black hole for corporations to offset costs. Americans who may be unemployed are nevertheless savvy on the ways of business in the US and deserve clarity in communications to understand the essential WIFM.

      "Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning how to dance in the rain." (unknown)

      by kck on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 09:38:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They Also Protect Markets and Require 50% of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TJ, Brooke In Seattle, Benintn

      corporate board membership to be labor. I don't really care who partners with my business, when I export to Germany my products are tariffed but when my customers import from my German competitors they get my competition duty free.

      There aren't that many export markets helpful to average Americans as long as we're free trading against slave labor and unprotected importation.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 09:51:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're talking about small and medium-sized (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        businesses here.  They do not have 50% representation in the Aufsichtsrat in Germany.  Only large companies do.

        Furthermore, Germany is not big on import tariffs.

        And last but not least, the reason as to why it is so important for the state to support export initiatives for small and medium-size businesses is that they often don't have the size and thus know-how to be able to research foreign markets and push their exports.

        Large corporations do well enough on their own, in general, but small and medium-size businesses often need this kind of support in order to maximize their export potential.

        "The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

        by Lawrence on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 11:29:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Enforce clawbacks to protect public investments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, Benintn, Wom Bat

    ...tied to net jobs impact. Companies that receive aid should have two requirements: 1. increase exports and 2. increase US jobs. If both of these measurements are not met, if the company folds, changes course or is sold, the investment should be recaptured.

    Clawbacks guarantee strategic investments meet goals or are recaptured to invest elsewhere. Public aid shouldn't be a risk proposition.  

    "Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning how to dance in the rain." (unknown)

    by kck on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 09:31:33 AM PST

    •  Good luck getting that through the House GOP. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't disagree with you, but it's gonna be hard to get Eric Cantor and his buddies to side with the American people.

      Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

      by Benintn on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 10:06:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clawbacks (0+ / 0-)

      were long ago rejected out of hand. No politician in either party claws anything back from the same people who funded their rise to power. That's why they were put in power to start with. If we're waiting for Ds or Rs to get tough with the Big Crooks, we're wasting our time.

      Anyone believing in any pol from either party has all but certainly screwed up.

      by Wom Bat on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 12:53:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You mean that Mark Kirk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wom Bat

    The one that voted to send jobs to China?  The one who told Chinese government representatives not to trust anything the American Government says?  Or even perhaps the one who considers it beneath him to care about unemployment because he has a wealthy district?

    I just can't wait to see what economic horrorshow Startup America will unveil with supporters like Kirk involved.

    Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

    by Fossil on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 10:56:01 AM PST

  •  Let 'em eat Photo Ops. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Anyone believing in any pol from either party has all but certainly screwed up.

    by Wom Bat on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 11:51:56 AM PST

  •  If they wanted to help unemployed Americans (0+ / 0-)

    they'd institute a new WPA. It will never happen. The People Who Matter have nixed it.

    Anyone believing in any pol from either party has all but certainly screwed up.

    by Wom Bat on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 11:57:59 AM PST

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