U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a roundtable meeting today with local business owners, agricultural leaders and state officials to discuss the vision laid out in President Obama's State of the Union address that will help grow the Pennsylvania economy. This meeting provided Secretary Vilsack with an opportunity to hear directly from Pennsylvanians on how to best implement the President's blueprint for an economy built to last.
"President Obama believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and has laid out a blueprint for an economy that is built to last--an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values," said Vilsack. " Today I had the opportunity to hear directly from Pennsylvanians on how we work together to build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. Together we will keep our nation moving forward and rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."
Over the last 22 months, the economy has added a total of 3.2 million private sector jobs - manufacturing jobs are coming back and the auto industry has rebounded. To ensure we build an economy to last over the long term we must continue this progress. In his State of the Union Address, the President announced proposals and outlined his vision for:
* How we will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped Made in the USA;
* A new era for American energy--an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers;
* How we will make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so that we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow; and
* Return to American Values -- of fairness for all, and responsibility from all.
USDA is working to support the President's efforts to promote a new era of American manufacturing by supporting rural businesses, farmers and ranchers to export products made or grown in America. USDA is also supporting the President's vision for a new era for American made renewable energy by working with scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs to help develop a nationwide biofuels economy that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the countryside.
In Pennsylvania, USDA has provided grants and loans to assist over 295 rural small and mid-sized Pennsylvania businesses create or save 3,600 jobs over the past three years. USDA has also improved and modernized rural electric infrastructure for over 96,000 rural residents and businesses in Pennsylvania with more than 877 miles of new and upgraded electric lines. Across the country, USDA has helped more than 450,000 rural families buy a home, and provided grants and loans to help over 50,000 small rural businesses create and saving 266,000 jobs.