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10.11.13 Remarks at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations


Location: Unknown

Thank you for having me today and for the very warm welcome.

I want to start by acknowledging the members of my team who have joined me this morning. I thank them all for inspiring me.

I enjoy occasions like this more for the conversation than for the speech itself. So allow me to keep my prepared remarks brief so that we can devote as much of our time together as possible to your questions, comments and advice.

I am here in Montreal today because, first and foremost, Canada is important to Massachusetts. You are our largest export partner. Indeed, our exports to Canada increased by more than 5 percent since last year while total trade between us increased to $11.1 billion. In addition to fish and shellfish, our top exports to Canada include industrial machinery, medical devices, and aerospace components (which underscores a point I'll make in a minute).

But it's more than that.

20,000 Massachusetts residents work for Canadian-owned companies back home and over 160,000 jobs in the Commonwealth are dependent on trade with Canada. Over 2200 Canadian students study at Massachusetts colleges and universities, the 4th largest contingent of international students in our state. More tourists in Massachusetts come from Canada than anywhere else as well, and we welcome you -- as long we don't discuss hockey. The cultural and family ties run deep as well.

So, Canada and Massachusetts are already significant partners. But there is much more we can mutually gain. Particularly because we are on similar paths. Let me describe the one we are on and why we embarked on it.

I have spent most of my career in the private sector. One of the things that worried me most about the companies I worked in or with was the overemphasis on managing for the next quarter, on getting short-term results sometimes at the expense of the firm's long-term interests.

That behavior has crept into the way we govern in America, where we govern for the next election cycle, or the next news cycle, instead of for the next generation. We have brought a different approach to our work because I am convinced that the expansion of opportunity requires economic growth, and that sustained growth does not happen without a long-term strategy, executed with discipline.

Our strategy in Massachusetts is to invest in education, innovation and infrastructure.

We invest in education because brainpower is our most abundant resource. There are over 300 universities, research institutions and teaching hospitals within a 90-minute drive of downtown Boston. In many ways, our key industry is knowledge. So, we cultivate it by investing money, time and new ideas in the public schools; in public higher education and college affordability; and in early education.

We invest in innovation because enabling and encouraging industries that depend on brainpower is the best way for Massachusetts to take advantage of the knowledge explosion happening in the world economy today. So, we have initiatives to grow the life sciences and biotech, clean and alternative energy, and digital technologies like gaming, big data, robotics and communications -- each one designed not to substitute for the private sector but to supplement it in strategic and helpful ways that encourage growth.

And finally we invest in infrastructure -- the unglamorous work of government -- because rebuilding roads, rails, bridges, expanding broadband to every community, building new classrooms and labs and more affordable housing not only creates jobs right now, but gives private initiative and personal ambition the platform for growth.

Education, innovation, infrastructure. It's a strategy proven through history. And it's working for us today.

Massachusetts has climbed out of recession faster than most other states and is growing twice as fast as the national growth rate. We have re-gained all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, one of the first states in America to have achieved this milestone.

We are first in the nation in student achievement, economic competitiveness, entrepreneurial activity, health care coverage, veterans services and energy efficiency.

Massachusetts has emerged as the top international supercluster in the life sciences and biotech, and as a national leader in clean and alternative energy, with double-digit year-over-year job growth in the latter sector in each of the last few years.

Because we are making more of the things we invent in our innovation economy, precision or advanced manufacturing is in the midst of a quiet renaissance.

I'm also pleased to report that our budgets are balanced, responsible and on-time, our bond rating is the highest in our history, and we have one of the largest rainy day funds in America.

An important part of our strategy is to learn to look out, not just in. With the world in the midst of a knowledge explosion, capital more globalized than ever and talent trying to be as well, it is important for us to collaborate with inventors and investors outside of Massachusetts. In order to remain competitive, I believe we have to strengthen our partnerships and form new relationships around the world. And so we travel -- to China, Israel, Great Britain, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ireland and around the United States -- in search of other clusters of people shaping the future.

That's why we have been spending time in Canada -- because we know that if we want to sharpen our edge in the innovation economy we need to know the gamers and medical researchers in Montreal and the clean tech entrepreneurs and financial services leaders in Toronto and look for ways to shape the future together. We believe that, though government cannot solve every problem in everybody's life, if we all work together, we can help people help themselves.

Thank you again for having me. I look forward to the conversation.

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