WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke to the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber during its annual Capitol Fly-In in Washington today. Among other things, Brown discussed efforts to repair the Brent Spence Bridge, increase investments in Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG), and preserve the Joint Strike Fighter competitive engine program.
“Southwest Ohio’s economic competitiveness depends on how we leverage federal investments alongside the private sector to support job creation and economic development. It’s a relationship that determines how we can best create the climate that helps businesses hire workers, export goods, and strengthen our economy,” Brown said. “Southwest Ohio is home to major domestic and international companies along with small businesses that anchor the regional economy. Fly-ins, like this one, provide a forum for discussion about utilizing private-public partnerships to bolster economic competitiveness and help Cincinnati lead Ohio’s economic recovery.”
Brown is working to increase the number of flights at CVG while lowering fares for consumers and the Cincinnati business community. Last month, Brown called on Delta CEO Richard Anderson to bolster service and prevent future flight reductions at CVG. In February, Brown wrote a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson, noting a dramatic decrease in flight levels and fewer direct flights from CVG as hurting southwest Ohio consumers and the Cincinnati business community. Sen. Brown also wrote to the Kenton County Airport Board Chairman urging the board to focus on attracting new airlines, lower ticket costs, and increase passenger traffic.
As a member of the President's Export Council, Brown discussed ways that Ohio businesses can take advantage of new markets and best practices for Ohio businesses exporting goods. Workers in jobs supported by merchandise exports typically receive wages higher than the national average. In the past 25 years, U.S. exports increased five-fold from $224 billion to more than $1.1 trillion in 2004. About one of every five factory jobs—or 20 percent of all jobs in America's manufacturing sector—depends on exports. Last month, Brown hosted the first meeting of the Ohio Export Advisory Group with companies from southwest Ohio and around the state to discuss the importance of exports to America’s economy and job creation.
The Cincinnati Regional Chamber is the nation’s 5th largest Chamber of Commerce, representing nearly 5,000 member businesses from 15 counties and three states (Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana).
Below is the full text of Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.
I’m glad to be here after missing you all last year.
Up until Friday night at 11p.m. it looked like we may have missed each other again this year.
But we came to an agreement to keep the government operating – finding consensus even among hard concessions.
As ugly as it was – and as difficult as the process remains – the debate on the role of government has been on-going since our nation’s very founding.
And while we may disagree on some issues, we agree on far more.
We can agree that the Tri-State area and our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on how we leverage federal investments into local economic development.
It’s a relationship that determines how we can best create the climate that helps businesses hire workers, export goods, and strengthen our economy.
With the current debate focused on the deficit, it’s fashionable to beat up on the government – but let’s not forget two years ago the government stepped in to save the economy.
Today, Fifth Third and banks around the country have repaid TARP funds and are back in the black.
The domestic auto industry was saved – along with the hundreds of suppliers around the state that support thousands of jobs.
And the Recovery Act – endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – brought middle class tax relief to the lowest level in 50 years, and helped Ohio state budget weather the worst.
Yes, we are on the road to recovery with bumps along the way.
But now is not the time to hamstring progress with partisan ideology – on both sides of the aisle – as the current budget debate suggests is happening.
The Brent Spence Bridge, for example, literally symbolizes why federal infrastructure investments are key to economic development – for the public interest and private enterprise.
The Brent Spence Bridge was built recognizing the need for a critical transportation link for the region.
Simply put, it is a lifeline for economic development in the region – built with federal funds and managed with state dollars that has empowered businesses in the region.
Passing a highway reauthorization bill is long overdue and I am hopeful that the House and Senate can pass a bill this year.
And whatever is passed, your delegation will be working to ensure that funding for this critical project is included.
Brent Spence was a Congressman from Kentucky, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1931-1963.
It’s only fitting that more than 3 percent of our nation’s GDP crosses the bridge bearing his name every year.
A liberal New Deal Democrat he was also known as an impartial leader of the powerful Banking Committee, where he helped create everything from the IMF to the Export-Import Bank.
As a member of the President’s Export Advisory Council, I’m working with the Administration to ensure our businesses have the resources to export into markets around the world, just as Brent Spence envisioned.
And as the Brent Spence Bridge demonstrates, a viable transportation infrastructure is critical to a viable export strategy.
That’s why I support your efforts to increase air service at CVG.
I’ve met with Jon Mok and others at the airport on the issue and I am encouraged that the business community—led by the Chamber—is working on expanding service and bringing more competition to the airport.
I’ve written to Delta about the continued high ticket prices that hamper the region and have spoken to numerous others about what we can do to improve service.
I will do all I can to help and am looking forward to hearing the recommendations of the business community.
These issues are difficult – particularly in a time with budget shortfalls at the local, state, and federal level.
But we simply cannot afford to rest on respective partisan sidelines. And the fight over the JFS is a prime example.
The JSF-Alt Engine is important to our military and our community.
We’ve kept the program alive while facing tremendous amount of opposition. We are faced with an even tougher environment this year. We have to fight back those beholden to cutting the budget merely for cutting’s sake.
It’s unwise and we won’t stop fighting.
I’m working closely with GE, the unions, and our delegation to push the Administration to let GE self-fund for the year while we fight the FY 2012 fight.
GE has really stepped up.
And another area I’m looking for your help is in our workforce training programs.
I’ll close with a story.
And since both the Reds and Indians are doing well, I’ll take it back to baseball.
Powel Crosley Jr. was 16 years old when he bet his father ten dollars that he could travel from the local church to the post office – in a vehicle that the younger Crosley would have to build himself.
Borrowing eight dollars from his brother, Powel Crosley bought the parts for a vehicle and proved his father wrong.
He paid his brother back and pocketed the two dollars. The year was 1902.
The famed Cincinnati inventor, manufacturer, and businessman went on to connect America’s middle class with affordable cars, home appliances, and radios that powered our nation’s economy.
He also went on to buy the Cincinnati Reds.
A friendly bet between father and son was based on the belief in the innovative and entrepreneurial American spirit.
And it was based on a federal government willing to make the right investments at the right time.