Thank you, Brandon, for that great introduction. You are a tremendous leader of our small business program, and I thank you for everything you do.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Department of Transportation.
As the former mayor of one our nation's fastest-growing cities--I know from first-hand experience that small businesses are the heart of our local economies. Small businesses create new jobs and they invest the money they make back into the communities they serve.
At the same time, we know that transportation is one of our greatest tools for growth.
Transportation is not just about getting from point to another. Transportation connects people to opportunity.
When we pave our roads, upgrade our bridges, or build new locomotives, we are putting people to work, growing our economies in the short-term, and preparing the next generation to compete over the long-term.
My family is a great example of the power of transportation. My grandmother grew up in a little town called Carthage, North Carolina. And her father, Pete Kelly, had a truck. And he used that truck to raise 13 kids and send all of them to college.
Transportation is jobs. Transportation is growth. Transportation is a lifeline.
When we combine the transformational power of transportation with the economic benefits of strong small businesses--we get a win-win situation.
And that is why President Obama and all of us at DOT are committed to helping every business, no matter how big or small, get a chance to do the important work of building a stronger America.
Over the last four years, we've worked hard to make sure small businesses have a fair shot when it comes to things like DOT procurement opportunities.
In fact, DOT received an "A" rating from the SBA for supporting small business contracting in the fiscal year of 2012.
DOT was 1 of only 6 federal agencies to receive an "A" rating in the last 4 consecutive years.
DOT also exceeded our goal of promoting veteran-owned businesses for the first time.
The bottom line is this: small businesses are the engine of our economy.
They are at the heart of President Obama's vision of a stronger America.
And we want to make sure every small business has the opportunity to help us build the roads, bridges, railways, runways and ports that we'll need to succeed in a 21st century economy.
Good luck during today's sessions.
We are grateful to have you as partners.
And we look forward to working with you in the future.