First, building on the great work that our diplomats and embassies do every day, I’m making attracting foreign investment a formal part of the portfolio for our ambassadors and their teams around the world. I meet with our dedicated embassy staffs wherever I go. All of them are great ambassadors for America, and they’re building bridges and connections every day. Well, I want them doing even more to help foreign companies cross those bridges and come here. And as they take on this expanded economic mission overseas, we’ll make sure that they’ve got the support that they need here at home.
Which brings me to the second point: Officials at the highest levels, up to and including me, are going to do even more to make the case for investing in America. Now, I already do this everywhere I go around the world, in public and private. I joke with a few American companies that I will deserve at least a gold watch at the end of my tenure from them. (Laughter.) I’ve racked up some pretty good sales. But as a country, we don’t always make our case in a coordinated way that links our teams overseas to the right senior officials in Washington. And we’re going to change that, make our advocacy more efficient, more effective, more connected so that businesses who are making decisions about where to invest are getting timely answers and know that they’re going to have all the help that they need.
Number three: We’ll make sure that for the first time, companies who want to do business in America have a single point of contact at the federal level to cut through red tape. We’re going to help you navigate national, state, local rules and regulations so that you can invest faster, open facilities faster, create jobs faster.
And finally, we’ll help states, cities, regions across America up their game by giving them more tools they need to compete, from the latest research and analysis to events that link them directly with potential investors. This is a big country, and for a lot of foreign investors, it may be sometimes hard to navigate and figure out what exactly is going to fit the needs of your company. Well, we can help you do that, and we can help make sure that state and local governments and regional offices, they’re best-equipped to make their case, and we can get a good fit that’s good for the company and good for those communities.
So a new focus at our embassies on attracting investment. More outreach from Washington. Coordinated advocacy to bring more jobs here. New ways to cut through red tape. And new tools for state and local leaders. That’s what an expanded SelectUSA will mean for businesses and for our partners in U.S. states and cities. And ultimately, I believe that will translate into more good middle-class jobs for America, my number-one priority.
I will be asking Congress to do its part. A lot of this is coordination. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money, it’s important for us to do what we do more wisely. But making America even more attractive to investment should be something that everybody can agree on, Democrats and Republicans. We’ve got to work together to get that done.
At the macro level, that means getting beyond gridlock and some of the manufactured crises that we’ve seen come out of Washington, because I assume if you ask any CEO here if shutting down the government makes them more confident about wanting to bring jobs to America the answer will probably be no. The notion of not paying our bills on time doesn’t inspire confidence. So it’s time for Congress to focus on what the American people are focused on and what I’m focused on, which is creating good jobs that pay good wages and creating a good environment for investment.
We do need to fully fund the SelectUSA program so that more middle-class folks have a chance to earn a decent living. We need to make sure that we are resourcing the efforts to make sure that our workers can earn the skills that they need to compete in the global economy. We’ve got -- one of the crown jewels of our education system is our community college system. Not everybody is going to be training at MIT or Stanford, but these community colleges mean that we can partner with businesses, help defray some of the training costs, help design with businesses what exactly they’re going to need in terms of people getting hired. And we’ve got the resources to do it. We know how to do it. But we’ve got to make sure Congress is supportive of that.
We’ve got to fix a broken immigration system so that we are welcoming more talented workers and entrepreneurs from around the world, and so if companies are coming here to locate and they’ve got a key individual that they need to bring over to make sure that the company is doing what it needs to do, that it’s not a tangle of red tape. And the good news is we know we’ve got bipartisan support for immigration reform, we just have to make sure we get it done this year.
We’ve got to continue to make smart investments in research and development, education, infrastructure -- all the things that historically have made America the most attractive place on the planet for businesses to invest. We’ve got to build on that success. That’s who we are as a country. And we have a tradition here of tackling new challenges, adapting to new circumstances, seizing new opportunities. And that’s one of the reasons that history shows over the last two centuries that when you bet on America, that bet pays off.
So to all the business leaders here today and around the world: We want to be your partner in helping to write the next chapter in our history. We want you to join the generations of immigrants and entrepreneurs and foreign investors who have discovered exactly what it means when we say we are the land of opportunity. That is not a myth; it’s a proven fact.
There are a lot of wonderful countries out there. But this is a place where you can do business, create great products, deliver great services, make money, and do good at the same time. So you should find out why there’s no substitute for those proud words: “Made in America.” And here’s three more words: “Select the USA.” When you do, you’ll find some of the world’s best workers, some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs. You’ll find a government, and a President who is committed to helping you create more good jobs for the middle class, and helping you succeed well into the 21st century.
We are open for business. And we’re looking forward to partnering with all of you in the months and years ahead.
Thank you very much. (Applause)