Remarks by President Biden on American Rescue Plan Investments
South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:23 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for your patience.
Secretary Raimondo, thank you.
Before we begin, I’d like to speak very briefly about today’s jobs report that was just been issued.
We received more good news. In August, the economy created 315,000 new jobs. The great American jobs machine continues its comeback. American workers are back to work, earning more, manufacturing more, and building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
But with today’s news, we have now created nearly 10 million new jobs since I took office. Nearly 10 million jobs — the fastest growth in all of American history.
In August, we also saw that the share of Americans who are working in our economy went up. Economists call that the “labor force participation rate.”
Working-age women are now, for the first time, back at work at rates not seen since before the pandemic.
Wages are up. Unemployment remains near a 50-year low. And, yesterday, we got that — we got data that showed that manufacturing orders were up but cost increases of supply chain items were beginning to ease.
The week before that, we got data showing that price increases may be beginning to ease as well.
The bottom line is: Jobs are up. Wages are up. People are back to work. And we are seeing some signs that inflation may be — may be — I’m not going to overpromise you — may be beginning to ease.
Couple that with the fact that gas prices have now fallen 80 straight days — the fastest decline in over a decade –
and the price at the pump is now $1.20 a gallon less than it was the beginning of summer.
America has some really good news going into Labor Day weekend.
But we’re also seeing something else critical to the backbone of the American economy: manufacturing. Manufacturing is roaring back.
Since I took office, the economy has created 668,000 manufacturing jobs — the strongest manufacturing job recovery since the 1950s.
And just last week, we’ve seen major American companies — from First Solar to Corning to Micron — announce plans to invest tens of billions of dollars — tens of billions, that’s not a misstatement — tens of billions of dollars, expanding manufacturing in America.
We’ve seen major global companies –like Toyota and Honda — announce that they are choosing America to invest and build.
None of this is happening by accident. These investments and this recovery are a direct result of my economic plan. Some people gave up on American manufacturing. Not me. Not the Secretary. Not the American people.
“Make It in America” is no longer just a slogan; it’s a reality in my administration.
I’m committed to building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. You’ve heard me say that a thousand times. But that’s what’s happening. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Now, a big part of the American Rescue Plan that I signed once I — a month after we got in office — we were facing a once-in-a-century pandemic, historic joblessness, businesses struggling to stay open, remote learning for our children.
But thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have come a long way. We got vaccine shots in arms. We helped people who needed it — it the most. We kept teachers in the classrooms, cops on the beat, firefighters on the job — because the local communities didn’t have the money to pay for them.
And as a result, COVID no longer controls our lives. More Americans are working than ever. Businesses are growing. Schools are open. And today, we’re celebrating a signature program the American Rescue — of the American — within the American Rescue Plan that’s going to help communities that need it most.
Look, it’s called the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. It’s centered around a vision that, as our economy recovers and modernizes, as science and technologies accelerate and change the nature of how we manufacture, we want workers and small businesses leading this transition — making sure they’re a part of it, not just being shunted aside — instead fearing that the transition will be leave them behind. We’re going to help them get retrained and many other things.
And thank — think — look, think of the 55-year-old small businessman who has been making a single screw — this is literally true — for a combustible engine for cars for decades. He and his workers are worried. Why? Because we’re moving to high-tech electric vehicles. We’re going to help them and their businesses with training and new technology to help them make parts for electric vehicles and lead the transition to a clean energy economy so they’re not left behind.
This is about investing in them, believing in them, helping them transition to a new world. They can do these jobs, just like they did the ones they had before. This is about jobs in their communities for them — not having to leave or not having to go on unemployment.
As new enterprises are created in the communities, they should have — they shouldn’t have to leave. They should be the ones being able to fill in for those jobs.
So we designed this program by thinking about people and places in a really important way. And I know I got all of you up on the screen here in 21 different communities.
This American Rescue Plan program invests $1 billion — a total of $3 [billion] — but $1 billion to create jobs and opportunity for people in the places where they live and where they’ve worked their entire careers so they don’t have to leave.
I know when folks hear such big numbers, they don’t think it’s — it’s for them. But this is for them. It is for them.
Over 500 coalitions applied for these grants — from community organizations to philanthropies, to labor unions, to colleges and universities — all working together from every part of America.
That kind of interest is a testament to the need and enthusiasm for this type of investment. I — it took — I take a look at this as a transition investment.
I’m so proud to announce 21 awardees, up on the screen here, who will each receive between $25 million and $65 million jobs to turn their plans into action.
And as Secretary Raimondo just said — and I guess I wasn’t supposed to start this off, was I? Come to think of it. All of a sudden, it dawned one me: I was supposed to let her speak first. (Laughter.)
But estimate these projects are going to result in 100,000 jobs created or saved, over $7 billion in additional private sector investment in these 21 communities.
We want you to continue having good jobs in your community so you don’t have to leave, so your people in your communities are displa- — aren’t displaced.
The winners are all here up on the screen, and they’re going to empower communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia —
Joe, is that you? Is that Joe Manchin I see?
SENATOR MANCHIN: I’m right here with you.
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Joe Joe. Good to see you, man. Thanks for what you’re doing. A matter of a fact, you’re one of the guys that started this idea with me — what you needed — what you’re talking about needed — had happened in West Virginia.
But anyway —
SENATOR MANCHIN: And you kept your promise.
THE PRESIDENT: They’re — they’re going to empower communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana to lead our nation’s transition to clean energy.
They’re going to empower small manufacturers in Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, El Paso, Texas — helping them modernize and become part of a supply chains for cutting-edge technologies, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, aerospace.
They’re going to empower agriculture workers in Fresno, California, and women in St. Louis, Missouri, pursuing manufacturing careers through quality job training and apprenticeships that lead to good-paying jobs.
And they are going to support entrepreneurship and small business creation from Native American communities in Montana and to Tulsa Greenwood neigh — to Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, once known as the Black Wall Street, that I visited on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Together, these projects are going to uplift underserved communities and include them as a key part of America’s economy for the 21st century.
We’re putting people who have been left behind in the past or couldn’t be — couldn’t have been lifted out of anything before. They’re going to be part of this recovery. They’re going to be the ones who are going to leading the way here. They’re going to be the ones getting retrained for these jobs.
Take the project in Georgia. I’ve recently signed a number of laws that is going to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and to make sure the future is made in America — think of everything from electric vehicles to semiconductor chips.
Georgia Tech, one of the great research universities, is a leader in understanding how artificial intelligence can be used to strengthen almost any industry.
But too many folks, especially small manufacturers in Black communities or in rural — or rural communities in Georgia, can’t afford access to the knowledge and research to be able to capture these jobs, to be trained for them.
They can’t take advantage of all that technology that can make them — for them, all the difference between their businesses closing and thriving. So, Georgia Tech partnered with HBCUs and — like Spelman College and Fort Valley State, and local community colleges.
With this grant, they’re going to take this technology on the road with a mobile training studios. That’s basically a high-tech van that’s going to travel into underserved areas across Georgia to train a whole new generation of workers.
Technology experts will provide workers who are interested in four- to six-week hands-on training that can make all the difference in their employment.
Think of a poultry farmer who might never have had a chance to learn how to artificial — how artificial technology can help manage inventory or improve safety and quality while increasing their productivity.
Think of a family-owned paper manufacturer that could never have afforded trying out cutting-edge technologies, but now they’re going to be able to.
And they’re going to be able to grow their businesses. And they can do it without ever leaving their home or their families. This is a gamechanger.
Take the projections — the project in Manchester, New Hampshire. And I’d tell you what: I heard so much from the — from the delegation in New Hampshire — from Maggie Hassan — anyway. I won’t get into it. But they — this has been one of the things they’ve been pushing for a long time — both senators and the congressman.
Their goal is nothing short of becoming a global epicenter for the next generation of advanced medicine. But to do it, they need world-class labs for clinical trials that will attract the most innovative bio-medicine companies in the — to locate and create jobs in New Hampshire.
I have to say that Senator Hassan and Shaheen, and Congressman Pappas: I hear you. I hear you. I hear you. I know you’ve been talking about this a long time. We’ve finally gotten it.
And they’re going to need to bring struggling communities along in the process.
Because of this grant, Manchester is going to revitalize what was once one of the largest cotton textile plants in the world.
Right now, 100,000-square-foot mill building is empty and idle, but not for long. Because of this grant, a coalition of city leaders and research and community organizations is going to transform that old mill into a modern marvel. It’s going to house advanced science labs that are going to conduct groundbreaking clinical trials.
It’s going to be the place where they can test biotechnologies and test — and treatments that are going to save lives. And the governor — the Republican governor is working on it — going to be there as well.
For workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs in the Man- — in the Manchester area, it means opportunity. It means jobs you can raise your family on in Manchester — not have to move.
Because of this American Rescue Plan grant, they’re going to be able to have access to cutting-edge technology and labs they never could have afforded before. This is going to allow them to compete with anyone anywhere in the world, and make sure the supply-chain for these new medicines advances — the medical advances are built right here in America. It matters.
As you probably know, I could go on and on and speak about each of your communities here, but time won’t permit.
I applaud every community that received the grant and that applied. You’re the reason why I’m so optimistic for the future of our country. I mean it.
You’ve heard me say it many times before. America is the only nation in the world that can be defined by a single word: possibilities. There’s nothing but possibilities here. That’s what this is about.
I want to thank you. And now I’m — so I’m going to do what I should have done to begin with: Turn it over to the Secretary to begin this. But we’ve already gone by it.
So, Madam Secretary, the floor is yours.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Thank you, Mr. President. I think the fact that the President jumped in there right away is a testament to how excited he is about this project. He’s fired up, and he’s committed to it. And that’s because he knows — he knows that we have to be investing in every community in America to help with the transition.
So, let me fill in a few of the blanks about how this program is going to work, and then we’re going to have a discussion with a handful of the 21 awardees.
First of all, congratulations. If you are one of the 21 here, you are the cream of the crop. Your applications were fantastic. And congratulations to each and every one of you.
The President and I are so proud of you and just thrilled to be able to work with you.
I have to thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership. Everybody should know that this was the President’s idea.
I mean, as he said, the American Rescue Plan was passed 17 months ago. Three billion dollars of that came to the Commerce Department to do economic development. And we decided to put $1 billion into this Build Back Better Regional Challenge, and it’s because the President directed me to make investments in communities to help communities revitalize themselves and get ready for the transitions in our economy. Because he fundamentally said, “People want to work where they live, and they ought to be able to do that.” And so, that’s what this is all about.
We believe every single American, no matter where you live, ought to have an opportunity to have a high-paying, family-supporting job in that community. And that’s what this is all about.
So, let me fill in some of the blanks about the approach. It’s a novel approach. This is the first time ever the Department of Commerce has made such sizable investments in individual communities.
When we started, to be very honest, we weren’t sure — we weren’t sure if communities would apply and bring together coalitions and have the capacity to invest tens of millions of dollars.
Well, we got 529 submissions. We went from 529 down to 60 finalists. And then from those 60 finalists, we worked to get to the 21 who are with us today. So, again, the fact that you are among the 21 — hats off to each and every one of you.
Here’s what makes this interesting: Everyone on this screen, of the 21, will be receiving between $25 million and $65 million to address regional economic challenges and to invest in revitalizing the economies of these communities.
So, that’s a lot of cheese, folks, to make big investments and revitalize your communities. This was all bottoms up.
We went to the community and said, “You tell us how to revitalize your community. And you bring the community together — public sector, private sector, universities, philanthropy. Get your community together and tell us what you need to invest.
The — so, as a result, this federal funding will be matched by more than $300 million of local investment and will leverage support from over 450 private sector and 27 labor unions or worker organizations. We estimate that, together, this whole initiative will create or save over 100,000 jobs and over $7 billion of additional private investment will be catalyzed through the — each coalition’s efforts.
And as the President said, this is about growing industries that are critical to our future — clean energy, biotechnology, advanced mobility. And it’s about saying to the small businesses and workers in these communities: We know the economy is transitioning. We’re moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy. We’re moving towards robotics, we’re moving towards a more digital economy, a more technical economy.
And the point of it is: No one will be left behind, because we’re going to retrain workers, we’re going to retrain small businesses, and we’re going to light up abandoned buildings that may have once trained coal miners and today will train solar installers. Abandoned manufacturing facilities that may have, you know, once made widgets will be, you know, lighted up for new advanced manufacturing in solar panels.
And so the important point here, and the President talks to us all the time about this, is that if you’re out there, you know, in — in Buffalo, and you drive by, every day, an abandoned industrial building, and you have a pit in your stomach, wondering, “Is there a place for me in a new economy?” Or if you are someone who’s worked for 30 years at one of the “Big Three” auto companies and you only know how to work on a traditional auto car and you’re worried do you have the skills to transition to an electric vehicle economy, what we’re saying to you is: Yes. Yes.
Because we’re going to retrain you. We’re going to retrofit small businesses. We’re going to do solar installations at industrial scale over abandoned coal mines. And we’re going to make sure that as we transition, everyone is included and trained, and these small businesses are able to do this.
I’ll just end with a personal story, which I told to the President. When we were designing this program, I had my father in mind. My fath- — once upon a time, Rhode Island, where I’m from, was the jewelry manufacturing capital of the world.
Everywhere you looked, jewelry manufacturing — low skill, but it was a good job. My dad had one of those jobs at Bulova Watch until he was 56 years old and his job and all the other jobs went to China. And he would so often say to us, “Gina, we were just left behind. We weren’t retrained.” He wanted to work. He could work. And he said, “Our leaders left us behind.”
So, what this is about is President Biden is committed to folks who have that anxiety, who’ve worked in old-line manufacturing, who’ve worked in the coal industry, who’ve worked in, you know, traditional combustion engine vehicles, and they’re feeling anxious. And we’re saying, “We are going to be there for you to make sure you’re not left behind or left out, and we’re going to make investments in your community so you can work in the community where you and your family live.”
So we’re excited and, quite honestly, I’m just very lucky that I get to work for a boss who gets this, because he gets it. And every time we brief him, he says, “Secretary, don’t tell me how much money we’re spending. Tell me what are we doing for the people of America.” And that’s why this is so exciting.
So, with that, we want to hear from you.
Now, as the President said, if we had the time, we’d like to hear from every single one of you because these — every one of you has put together a phenomenal application. But we don’t have the time, so we’re just going to hear from a couple of you and hope to have a free-flowing discussion.
And I want to begin by calling on the Detroit Regional Partnership foundation. Congratulations, you all are receiving $52.2 million, which is incredible. We’d like to hear from you. And I’d like to call on Maureen.
Just tell us a little bit about how are you going to invest the $52 million. What’s — what are the projects you’re doing? And what does this mean for the small businesses in the supply chain in Detroit’s auto manufacturing industry?
MS. KRAUSS: Good morning. Thank you, Madam Secretary. And good morning, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
MS. KRAUSS: We are thrilled to join you here today from Detroit, the global epicenter of mobility.
I want to introduce two of our partners who are with me today: Quentin Messer, Jr., who is the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Ned Staebler, who is the CEO of TechTown Detroit.
In addition, we have a large group of over 140 partners who are joining us virtually and who worked together for the successful application.
We’re honored that the EDA has recognized that Detroit — the Detroit region is leading the transformation from internal combustion engine to electric vehicle. The global epicenter of mobility — or GEM — is Detroit’s answer to the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Through an inclusive and equitable lens, GEM will help the Detroit region redefine every aspect of mobility, from the cutting-edge technology that most people in goods, to creating new quality jobs and readying new sites for business. We are building an inclusive, prosperous 21st century with your help.
GEM’s vision is to accelerate economic growth by building on the region’s unrivaled mobility assets. It will create a smart, secure, sustainable, and inclusive advanced mobility industry, starting with the transition to next generation electric, autonomous, and fully-connected vehicles.
This grant will fund six unique projects that will help the region and country maintain its global automotive leadership.
GEM will support workers, startup businesses, and small-to-medium-sized companies as they adapt to a new, high-tech advanced mobility industry.
Led by one of the most diverse regions in the United States, GEM offers the opportunity to create a national model for equitable — equitable economic growth. We are ready to help secure the nation’s advanced mobility leadership for generations to come.
Thank you again. We welcome any questions. And we also want to invite you, Mr. President and Madam Secretary, in two weeks to join us in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show where we can show you in person how we are leading the way.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be there.
MS. KRAUSS: Awesome.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m a car guy. (Laughs.) As you kind of noticed.
Hey, look, I drive the Cabinet crazy and my staff crazy by asking them to give concrete examples that, if you walked up to somebody on the corner and said it, they could completely understand it.
One of the things that I — and this is pure Biden — I believe, and I’ve been saying for some time, that the next 10 to 15 years, more is going to change, in terms of technology and innovation, than has happened in the last 75 years. I mean that sincerely. Things are going to change so rapidly.
That’s good if we’re going to compete in the world, but also is scary as hell for somebody who — like, we were talking on the way over to this building about how there’s hundreds of small companies supplying small parts to internal combustion engines. And you were — you were giving me an example, Madam Secretary, of a bolt —
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: A bolt.
THE PRESIDENT: — one company provides that is not going to be useful in a — in an electric vehicle. And so, what we’re going to do is train that — that company and the ownership of that company what parts they can contribute to to make that vehicle.
I’ll give you a concrete example. Remember, when we were having the great difficulty — we still have some difficulty in the supply chain of items coming from Asia — and the shipping, the vast majority of it comes through the ports in San Diego and — and Los Angeles and those ports. And the ports were asking for help all across the country for new technologies, new cranes, new movements, more robotics.
I said, “Okay, we’ll do it on one condition — that the people you have on the job now at the port are the people you train. You give them the opportunity to man the new machinery.” Not a joke.
And one of the things I think this is — was so important about what we’re all talking about — all of you are talking about is — think of all the people who’ve been breaking their neck and doing well, doing things that really matter, who are going to become — what they’re doing is become — is going to become obsolete because of how things are changing, whether it’s a transition in the climate environment or whether it’s cla- — manufacturing or medicine, whatever it is.
And so, when you say you’re going to provide — we’re going to provide in-depth assessment — assessment and assistance to 65 firms through a supply chain transformation center, that can sound pretty abstract to a lot of people. Give me an example of what you really mean — what this will really mean for a company and its workers in this supply chain trans- — transformation center. What are you talking about?
MS. KRAUSS: Absolutely, Mr. President, as you know, in our region, because you were very important here a few years ago in helping us make a transformation, we need to do it again. We have a terrific, talented workforce and supply chain. But we need to give them the skills that they need and the tools that they need.
So, one example is a company in a community in the Detroit region called Oxford. It’s Barron Industries. They’re a casting company, but they need help in making sure that they can produce the right parts with the right technology at the right speed with the right talent. So they have been receiving assistance on marketing, on cybersecurity, on production techniques so that they can make the transition as rapidly as the OEMs are making it and they can stay an important part of that supply chain.
That also includes making sure that their employees have the skillsets — the upskilling that they need — so that they can be successful and, as you say, included and staying here in our region to do those jobs.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Mr. President, one of the things I love about what Maureen and her team is doing is that so often, we focus on the “Big Three” automakers, which is important, you know, for all the obvious reasons. But what they’re doing is focused on the whole network of small suppliers — you know, the hundreds, if not thousands, of small family-owned suppliers to the “Big Three” and making sure that, as Maureen said, they have the new materials, the new technology, the new training so that they can continue to service as we move towards EVs.
And so I give you a lot of credit for getting into the supply chain.
THE PRESIDENT: The last thing I’ll say — I could talk about this for a long time, but — (laughs) — going through two of the major American automobile plants for a long time, for an extended period of time, there was a lot of concern by the UAW about robotics and — and how that was going to displace workers when, in fact, being able to teach those folks how to use those robots, it increased productivity and doesn’t displace them is what’s really happening.
And so it’s all about — you can maintain the workforce, you can maintain the — increase the productivity, remain competitive internationally, and still get a lot done.
But at any rate, I — I — maybe with a — as my grandfather used to say, “With the grace of God, the goodwill of neighbors,” I’ll see you at the auto show.
MS. KRAUSS: We welcome you. Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. Well —
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: So, the mention of robotics is a perfect segue. I’d love to turn it over to Stefani from the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Coalition. You all will be receiving $62.7 million. I’d love to hear Stefani talk a little bit more about that.
To put this in perspective and to pick up on the point you just made, Mr. President, about robotics, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is, we all know, a world leader in robotics. And a lot of jobs have been created right around CMU.
But if you’re living in a coal community or a rural community outside of Pittsburgh, you might wonder, “How do I fit in? How do I get a job, you know, with robotics and…”
THE PRESIDENT: You go to the county executive, that’s what you do.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Exactly. (Laughter.) That’s why he’s part of it.
So, that — so, that’s what these guys are doing. So, we’ll turn it over to Stefani and the team, and maybe tell us a little bit about what you’re doing.
MS. PASHMAN: Sure. Thank you, Madam Secretary. And yes, Mr. President, I am joined today by several of your friends — the county executive, Rich Fitzgerald; president of Carnegie Mellon University, Farnam Jahanian; and my colleague and the chief equity officer on the project, Majestic Lane.
And what I want to start off by saying is thank you for your vision. And thank you very much, Madam Secretary, to your incredible team and for you in making that a reality.
What we have loved, in some ways, most about this project is that we get to do what we do best in Pittsburgh, which is collaborate and bring together what — we had 200 partners — in which (inaudible) in Pittsburgh to make words into action to deliver on your vision.
And so, through this amazing challenge, we are able to do exactly what you said, which is to look at those 3,000 manufacturers that are in counties like Indiana and Fayette and Greene and Washington and marry them with the over 100 robotics companies that birthed from Carnegie Mellon University and many of our other folks — to actually put them together to create the jobs and the technologies and the companies of the future.
And we’re doing that in a way that is building programs for people. This is about people first: 14,000 workers, 750 companies that will fuel an entire new economy for us that we think won’t just be about Southwestern PA and not just the United States, but globally to redefine how we do business and how we keep jobs at home in our communities, as you so well described.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Thank you. One of the things I love about this is — a lot of people when they hear “robotics” or they hear “autonomous technologies,” they hear, “I’m about to lose my job.” And so, what Stephanie and the team are doing is saying quite the opposite. This is going to create job opportunities for you, including in your rural community, not just in the neighborhood of CMU.
MS. PASHMAN: Yeah, I so appreciate that question, Madam Secretary, because as you can imagine, as the birthplace and the leader in robotics, this is a question we tackle and think about extensively.
And I can start by telling you the data, which is we know that for every one job that may be displaced with robotics technology in a company, it’s creating at least 1.5 and sometimes more.
But what’s even more important and that we understand is for the companies that are actually growing and scaling in our midst — those 100 companies I talked about — many of them have upwards of 1,000 employees right now. And those are middle-skill jobs. Those are jobs where people are tinkering and building sensors and using the skills that you described, like your father had. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do here today. And we’re doing it across industries like energy, like agriculture, like healthcare.
This is an incredible broad-based opportunity. And what we even know more as we talk to those workers: They are more fulfilled. They are actually enjoying their ability to use their creative skills, to customize sensors, to repair robots, to work in partnership with entrepreneurs in creating those actual technologies.
It’s a more fulfilling job. It’s a higher-wage job. It keeps them in communities. And it actually allows them to have family-sustaining jobs where they were born and where they want to stay.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, at Carnegie Mellon — I had the honor of you showing me around Carnegie Mellon — it’s a great university for real; I’m not being solicitous. Are you working with smaller outfits, like the community colleges in the region? And talk to me about the — the sort of coordination between a great national university like yours and a community college in your community.
MR. JAHANIAN: First of all, Mr. President, thank you very much for your leadership. It’s good to be with you.
There are two aspects of it that I want to highlight. On one hand, what we’re trying to do is to bring robotics and automation to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
As you alluded to, the digital transformation is taking place, and it’s really having a ripple effect across so many sectors of our economy. So we’re bringing those technologies and know-how to agriculture, to construction, to energy, to healthcare, to manufacturing, mining, and transportation.
So that element — bringing those skills and technologies to small and medium enterprises to make them more competitive is extremely important. It’s extremely important for the nation because we live in a global world. So that’s one element of it.
The second element that — that you alluded to has to do with upskilling and reskilling the workforce. And in this case, we’re working with community colleges, we’re working on curriculum development, we’re working on various ways that we can bring along the workers and retrain them and upskill them to be ready for these new jobs that are going to be created.
It’s extremely important to recognize that as we adapt these new technologies in smaller and medium enterprises, we have the workforce that’s going to be ready to take those jobs.
So, the coordination with community colleges, with labor unions, especially in our poor, urban areas, and, as Madam Secretary alluded to, the 11 counties that surround us is part of our mission and what we’re committed to. Thank you again for the opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me ask you: How is this going to play out on the political scene? As a county executive, what are you going to be able to tell folks about what’s happening with this $62 billion — million dollars?
MR. FITZGERALD: Well, thank you, Mr. President. What we can tell people is: President Biden continues to invest in people and in jobs and in our future.
First of all, congratulations on another great jobs report. I mean, we shouldn’t just go over that real quickly. Ten million jobs in your — your year-and-a-half tenure is really unbelievable. And a lot of them have been created right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
And as Stefani and President Jahanian have mentioned, it’s not just for the — for the robotics software engineer in Pittsburgh, it is for the small town in Westmoreland County and in Beaver County, the manufacturing facilities that are transitioning and the type of training that can happen throughout our community college but for families.
And I know you’ve talked about this all the time, and it’s so important: It’s about hope and for the future, for the next generation who are out there wondering what’s going to happen. You mentioned the displacement that’s going to — you know, could happen and the changes over the next 10 to 15 years. This doesn’t leave people behind. And we appreciate that very, very much.
And by the way, we’re looking forward to seeing you on Monday on Labor Day. You’re always here with us, and we’re looking forward to it. We’re guaranteeing good weather, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: All right. (Laughs.)
All right. Sir, do you have anything you’d like to add about what’s going on in the community?
MR. LANE: Well, sure. I think what’s important about this is, you know, as you spoke to, Mr. President, often people think that robotics and AI are leaving people behind. But we’re being really intentional, both demographically within our communities – people of color and women — and also in our rural communities about how do we connect people to inclusive career pathways but also actually connecting them up to business development opportunities in the robotics and AI industry, which traditionally, they may not have had access to.
So, what we’re really doing is being intentional about figuring out how do we make these connections and really making this an economy for all.
So, thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, one of the things, if I may —
having been a significant consumer of healthcare and having family members who needed serious healthcare, one of the things that I think, in the healthcare side, most docs will tell you that when people get a diagnosis that is very dire, they need really a navigator. They need someone to help them know when to go to what appointment, what the appointments are for, how to — what — just explain what’s going on.
It seems to me, we need some navigators here. And I’m wondering how you’re doing that. I mean, you had someone — let’s say, there’s someone — we were doing this on a local Pittsburgh television station and someone listening is saying, “Well, I’d like to — I’d like to get trained. I’d like…”
I mean, how — how are you reaching out to the community? And do we have, essentially, whether — whatever they want to call them — “navigators” to say, “Look, here’s the way you can get into this. This is what you do.” Or are people going into those — those small businesses that are going to be eventually displaced because of technology — it’s going to be surpassed, and say, “This is what you…”
I mean, is there — is there thought about that?
MS. PASHMAN: Absolutely, Mr. President. Thank you for that question. And that really is the spirit of — as I was talking about earlier — our project and the way our partners are coming together.
So we have five projects that are woven together, each with incredible organizations that know how to actually be on the ground. Most of our money is actually going out to neighborhoods and communities, so they can actually use the organizations that know their people, that know where the businesses are, that know where those individuals are that have to get into the jobs, where those people are that are ready for entrepreneurial opportunities.
So, for example, it starts with our manufacturing extension partnership. They know where those manufacturers are, and they understand their readiness to adopt technologies. They will come together in a manufacturing hub with entrepreneurs who can help de-risk the prototyping and creation of products that can actually be deployed.
We also have our lead accelerator entity in the region that’s creating a new model of startup factory with anchor makerspaces throughout the communities where we can identify opportunities to create new technologies that will be deployed into those companies.
And taken all together, our workforce ecosystem, as Dr. Jahanian described, will actually be connected by a web of workforce boards and other community organizations, including labor unions and other, at the neighborhood level who can then bring those curriculum partnerships — the workers — to the table for those jobs.
So we’re really relying on, as I said, 200 entities and partners who know how to navigate and know where businesses are and know where the people are to make sure we have a marriage and an alignment that can propel this opportunity,
THE PRESIDENT: One of the things I’ve raised — and I’ve not raised with the Secretary but I’ve raised you guys and everyone who is part of this grant effort: I think it’s useful — think — think about it — 25 years ago, 30 years ago, almost every high school had shop classes, where you learned how to work with your hands, where you learned — you could go and get — take carpentry or automobile. And you know, just — just to get a sense.
I really think we should be talking — and I don’t have a program, so — but I think we should be talking about — a little bit about how we let high school students know how things are changing and what may be available down the road.
And I know we’re supposed to — I’m — I know I’m taking this longer than I should. But a guy who has been talking about transition for a long time with me has been Joe Manchin. He’s — he lives, breathes, and eats West Virginia.
But, Joe, what’s — how — how is this going to help — if it is — the West Virginia transition to a strengthened — not totally new, but a new economy?
SENATOR MANCHIN: Yeah, well, Mr. President, you and I have spoken many times about this when you first came into office, even when you — was running at that time, about how West Virginians felt they were left behind.
My wonderful state and all the great workers and the people in my state that worked hard and they’re very proud, they’ve done the heavy lifting for years and years and years. And basically, they never complained. And as things started changing and transitioning, there was nothing left for them.
Twenty-one of our most effective counties are in southern West Virginia. This is based around that, and it’s — it’s pumping into an area which is — we call “the Appalachian Climate Technology,” or the ACT Now Coalition, which is led by Brandon Dennison. Brandon is here with us, and he’s done a tremendous job with his team and the Coalfield Development Corporation.
It’s basically reinventing — not just reinventing, but basically being able to meet the needs of the public as we transition to making sure that we can provide the services. That’s what they’ve been doing for quite some time.
And this — this announcement here and this Rescue Plan — the American Rescue Plan continues to play benefits for West Virginia. But, you know, also, your co-chair of Appalachian Regional Commission, Gayle Manchin, who I know very well — (laughter) — is very, very proud that Appalachia has gotten so much consideration and assistance.
And you’re the first person, Mr. President — and with your most capable Secretary and our dear friend Gina Raimondo — directing it to the people that need it the most. I think that’s what we’re here to say is thank you. These 21 counties have great regional projects.
I have with us here on the panel — I have my dear friend, Amy Goodwin, the chairman — she’s the mayor of Charleston. I have Steve Williams, a fellow colleague of mine; and he is the mayor of Huntington. Our two largest cities.
And we have with us also Stephanie Tyree. She’s the West Virginian Hub director that works directly with these projects.
They can explain in detail what this is going to allow us to do. And we’ve gotten this $62.8 million — one of the top awards, and we’re so proud of that — but the need is there. And I can guarantee you, the investments will be made.
You and I have spoken many times about: You can spend money or you can invest money. And we’re going to give you a return on this. We’re going to give the taxpayers of the United States a return on their investment in West Virginia. That’s what this is about.
And a reward based to the people who have done the heavy lifting to allow them to continue to transition. Now with our — our Inflation Reduction Act, Mr. President, this leads — segues right into that because now it’s going to allow them to start focusing on a new — a complete new way of delivering the energy that this country is going to need.
Coal — all — we talked about all the cars. And Debbie Stabenow and I talk about that a lot. And I said, “Debbie, you wouldn’t have a car if it wasn’t for the coal and the steel that we produce to send you the material that you need to make the car.” So we’re — we’re all hooked to the hip here.
And as the transition goes on, the investments that are being made — the 48C Tax Credit — is going to put $4 billion on — additionally, back into coal-hit communities so we can diversify and attract more business there.
So I just can’t tell you how much this means, Mr. President. And I’m just so proud to be part of this and also so proud of what the ARP has done — the American Rescue Plan. And so excited to see what the Inflation Reduction Act is going to do.
So many people don’t know how much is in there that’s going to trans- — transition their lives and transfer them into an economy that’s going to give them an awful lot of stability. So we’re very proud.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Joe, thanks.
I’d love to talk to every one of you, but I’m getting the sign here. I better cut. They’re going to —
SENATOR MANCHIN: I was afraid you were going to get the hook. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But — but — but, look —
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: I was going to say, we could do this all day, but —
THE PRESIDENT: The — the point — let me conclude by saying this: This is not going to waste money, what we’re talking about each of you doing; it’s going to grow the economies. It’s going to keep us in a position where we are the most advanced economy in the world and where we bring along the people who have made this country.
You know, I joke — and I don’t want to — I shouldn’t get political, but — let me put it this way: The people who built the country are hardworking people who work with the sweat of their brow and their hands. And — and they’ve — they’ve — they’re — they’re the ones that created the middle class. And I think this going to enable that same group of people, like most of us were raised by, to be able to have an opportunity to continue to do well and to take us through this next phase.
Because, you know, there’s that — I always — Joe and my colleagues in the Senate used to always kid me for — for quoting Irish poets, but —
”All is changed. It’s changed utterly: A terrible beauty has been born,” as the Irish poet said. And we’ve got to take advantage of it, and I think we can. I really, genuinely think we can.
And I look forward to meeting all of you at some point along the way. And we’re going to continue to keep this moving because there’s $3 billion total in this, and it’s going to grow the economy. Everybody is better off.
When you grow the economy, everybody from the local drugstore to the — to the local supermarket to the local church — everything grows. And that’s what this is about.
Anyway, thank you all.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Thank you, Mr. President.
SENATOR MANCHIN: If I can say one thing to you, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
SENATOR MANCHIN: Thank you for not forgetting and not leaving anybody behind. I can’t tell you how much this means to our hardworking people in West Virginia.
And they are truly appreciative — the families are — to be able to stay where they love and they — and their heritage and their roots are. So many of them had to leave. You’ve given them that opportunity. And you didn’t forget, and you kept that promise. And I appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Joe, remember I’m from hard-coal country: Scranton. (Laughter.) All right?
Okay, anyway, thank you all so very, very much. And thank you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Congratulations. Congratulations, everybody. And we’re excited to work with you to make all of this a huge success.
And thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. All right. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, do you consider — Mr. President, do you consider all Trump supporters to be a threat to the country?
THE PRESIDENT: Come on. Look, guys.
Q Just, Mr. —
THE PRESIDENT: You keep trying to make that case. I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country.
I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it’s used, refuses to acknowledge when an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which the rules — you count votes — that is a threat to democracy. Democracy.
And everything we stand for — everything we stand for rests on the platform of democracy.
When people voted for Donald Trump and support him now, they weren’t voting for attacking the Capitol. They weren’t voting for overruling an election. They were voting for a philosophy he put forward.
So I am not talking about anything other than: It is inappropriate — and it’s not only happening here, but other parts of the world — where there’s a failure to recognize and condemn violence whenever it’s used for political purposes, failure to condemn the — the — an attempt to manipulate electoral outcomes, a failure to acknowledge when elections were won or lost.
12:15 P.M. EDT