Celebrate Trade, Port of Portland Event
May 18, 2015
Thank you, Bill. It’s an honor to join you all in tonight’s celebration of international trade; so essential to Oregon’s economy and our future. I also want to thank my friends at the Oregon Consular Corps – I enjoyed meeting you when I was Secretary of State, and I applaud you for your forward-thinking initiatives like the study-abroad scholarship program. I look forward to working with you.
I would like to take a moment to commend Bill Wyatt and his team at the Port of Portland. Oregon is extremely fortunate to have a world-class Port that continues to break passenger records at the airport and provides the metropolitan area with needed industrial land. Despite recent challenges at Terminal 6, the Port’s other Terminals continue to move a wide array of products all over the globe. This success could not happen without Bill’s vision and strong leadership. Thank you, Bill.
As the Port moves forward with implementing its five-year strategic plan, Oregon’s economic picture is improving. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in eight years, and we are adding new jobs at a rate of about three percent a year. That’s one percent higher than the national average.
It is important that this momentum be felt in all communities across the state. My priority is to ensure that the economic recovery delivers meaningful opportunities for Oregonians who are working hard to make a better life for their families – that it means more, good, family-wage jobs. It’s important, as our economy turns the corner, that all Oregonians can thrive – no matter who they are, what part of the state they live in, or what industry they work in.
Our own Oregon-grown businesses play a key role in the state’s economic recovery: Seventy percent of new jobs in this state are created when Oregon companies grow and expand.
As we say at Business Oregon, we must ‘grow our own.’
“Grow Our Own” calls on us to invest in Oregon-based industries and businesses, to work to retain them and help them grow and thrive. In order for our traded sector businesses to grow, they must continue to access new markets around the globe. As was mentioned, 95% of the world’s consumers are located outside the U.S. The potential for economic growth through exports is great.
International trade supports nearly a half million Oregon jobs; in the city of Portland alone, that means about 268,000 jobs. According to the Brookings Institute, for every one traded manufacturing job, three additional local jobs are generated.
Business Oregon is serious about keeping the state’s international trade healthy. Director Sean Robbins held a “Doing Business in Oregon” seminar in Japan last month. The trip’s goal was to recruit Japanese companies to open U.S. operations in Oregon. I look forward to my first trade mission to Asia in October to follow up on Business Oregon’s great work.
Along with a brightening economic picture comes the opportunity to address long-standing infrastructure needs. This is why I have prioritized transportation, affordable housing and funding for Career Technical Education. Investments in these areas will build a strong workforce and help sustain steady economic growth throughout the state.
Access to markets via sky, water, and land is also critical to Oregon businesses. I support improving transportation routes and modes so Oregon businesses are better able to engage international markets. This will ensure Oregon products and goods can be sold all over the world.
That said, I would be remiss if I did not mention Terminal 6. While business is booming at our Port, and exports are increasing through many of our terminals, we have a problem at Terminal 6.
In Oregon, we have a long history of setting aside our differences in order to solve problems for the greater good. It is time for all parties to take a break from finger pointing, put their cards on the table, and find a path forward together. I have no doubt that committed people with good ideas working together can make a difference – I have seen it happen many times. It is the Oregon Way. Let’s get this done now.
In the meantime, we will continue to develop strategies that support our exporters and importers across the state, because they cannot wait.
More than 88 percent of Oregon’s six thousand exporters are small and medium-sized businesses. For example, take Rep. David Gomberg’s Go Fly A Kite, a small business that had been relying heavily on Terminal 6. This is why I authorized $300,000 in support of facilitating exports: expanding air cargo service between Oregon and Asia, and removing barriers to getting Oregon goods to global markets.
In the 90 days since I took office, I have been traveling around the state as much as my schedule allows. And I have met lots of people: Working families, small business owners, and executives working in some of the state’s largest companies.
And I’ve learned that, although as individuals we may have our differences, one thing connects us – we are all Oregonians. We are innovators, seekers, and doers. Globalization is here to stay, and in this era of enhanced global connectivity, Oregonians have a lot to offer.
It is in this spirit that I offer my congratulations to our eight study-abroad scholarship recipients. Would you and your families please stand?
You, too, have a lot to offer a complex world that is increasingly inter-dependent.
Consider the recent economic recession that began in the U.S. in 2009, the impacts of which were felt globally. Or the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climates world-wide. These issues demonstrate that actions we take here and now will affect the future well-being of people, economies and ecosystems elsewhere in the world.
In short, the world we live is getting smaller.
You are about to embark on the life-changing experience of living and learning in a foreign country. I know you will find it challenging and thrilling, but, in the long run, studying abroad will also make you a better leader and citizen.
Done right, your study abroad experience will push you out of your comfort zone and into a new culture, new language and an unfamiliar learning environment. You will acquire a new worldliness, as well as the language skills and cross-cultural understanding necessary to succeed in this global economy.
When you return, I encourage you to share your experiences so that perhaps more students will consider studying abroad. Learning how to relate to people from other countries and cultures is part of being well-educated. It is essential to addressing important global issues — from curing diseases and finding energy solutions, to fighting terrorism and hunger.
And here’s my advice when traveling in unfamiliar territory, no matter where you are: Talk to strangers.
Congratulations, and safe travels.