President Barack Obama made the case Thursday for foreign companies to invest in jobs in the United States, announcing an expansion of the SelectUSA program aimed at connecting them with states that want their business.
He encouraged businesses attending the two-day SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., to locate more business here.
“I’m here because I want companies around the world to know that I believe there is no better place in the world to do business than the United States of America,” the president said in an early afternoon address. “Think about it, globalization and technology means you could go just about anywhere. But there are a whole lot of reasons you ought to go here.”
Obama said he would expand and enhance the SelectUSA program by making attracting foreign investment "a formal part of the portfolio for our ambassadors and their teams around the world;" getting senior officials, including himself, to do more in making the case for investing in America; creating a single point of contact with coordinated advocacy to help cut through red tape; and helping states and cities “up their game” by giving them tools to compete.
And he said Congress has to do its part.
“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,” Obama said. “The notion of not paying our bills on time doesn't inspire confidence.”
At the same conference Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores announced three new manufacturing projects by suppliers in the United States to produce footwear, curtains and glassware as part of a broader commitment to "buy American."
Bill Simon, Wal-Mart's U.S. president and CEO, made the announcement with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the world and with some 1.3 million employees in the United States, said the three projects would create 385 jobs.
"It takes a lot of entrepreneurship; it takes a lot of innovation; it takes a lot of conviction to make that decision to take that step to invest capitol here," said Simon.
Elan-Polo Inc. will start production of injection-molded footwear in March at a factory in Hazelhurst, Ga. The company previously made the shoes overseas.
EveryWare Global Inc. will produce canning jars for Wal-Mart at its Monaca, Pa., facility, establishing a new made-in-the-U.S. product line.
And Louis Hornick and Co., a Wal-Mart supplier for four decades, will establish a new facility in Allendale County, S.C., to make window coverings and home textiles.
"Our next goal is to encourage other businesses just like these to step up to the plate," Pritzker said.
Thursday's announcement was part of Wal-Mart's pledge, announced in January, to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made products over the next decade.
Reuters' Elvina Nawaguna contributed to this report.