Re-manufacturing the American Middle Class

Last Thursday, I traveled to Cleveland, Ohio for a series of meetings and events that turned out to be an exceptionally rewarding display of the Administration’s investments in education, job training, and manufacturing.

My Cleveland engagement began at the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) with local elected officials and leaders from the business and philanthropic community. GCP describes itself as “a membership association of Northeast Ohio companies and organizations, and one of the largest metropolitan chambers of commerce in the nation.”  Their mission is to mobilize private sector leadership, expertise and resources to create business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve the economic prosperity of the Greater Cleveland region.

Among the topics we discussed was the importance of competitive, local economic regions as part of the Administration’s larger agenda of an American economic built to last.  There are a number of assets and opportunities within Northeast Ohio that position the region for strong economic growth through collaborative efforts.

In addition to the meeting with the GCP, I also had the opportunity to sit with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.  We discussed the ongoing transformation of Cuyahoga County and the critical role it continues to play  in the economic recovery of Ohio.

On Friday, I had the privilege of providing the keynote luncheon address at the City Club of Cleveland – an organization that was established to encourage new ideas and a free exchange of thought.   My remarks were entitled “Re-manufacturing the American Middle Class,” and centered on the President’s commitment to, and investment in, the American manufacturing industry and the American worker. I also highlighted the benefits which accrue when helping to strengthen the American middle-class.

I capped off my Cleveland, Ohio swing with a tour and roundtable discussion at Cuyahoga Community College, (otherwise known as Tri-C to those of us with roots in NE Ohio.)  Specifically, I toured the Unified Technologies Center at Tri-C.  The Center provides advanced manufacturing training for students of the community college; however, corporations also use the facility to update the skills of their incumbent workers.

It was a great opportunity to engage students, faculty, and employers.   A pleasantly unscripted success transpired during the roundtable when a recent graduate indicated that he finished the program two weeks ago, but was still looking to secure employment.   An employer sitting across the table looked up from his notes and essentially hired the student on the spot!  The advanced manufacturing program at Cuyahoga Community College is supported in part by funding from the Labor Department. It is also  part of the President’s agenda of helping to build the skills of American workers and provide relevant post-secondary educational opportunities for American students.

Prior to joining the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Jay Williams was the executive director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers.

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