In a widely anticipated speech to the U.S. Chamber, President Obama recently characterized the task of spurring job growth, innovation, and U.S. competitiveness as a shared responsibility between government and the private sector.

The Chamber’s Tom Donohue greets President Obama before his speech at Chamber headquarters on February 7.

“I’m here today because I am convinced, as Tom [Donohue] mentioned in his introduction, that we can and we must work together,” the president told a packed audience of small business owners, CEOs, industry association leaders, and Chamber staff at the February 7 event. He later added, “We need to make America the best place on earth to do business.”

US Chamber 1.jpgIf America is to win the future, Obama said, “We need to out-innovate, we need to out-educate, we need to out-build our competitors.” He called for investments in biotechnology, information technology and clean energy technology, education reform, and infrastructure improvements.

President Obama pledges to lower barriers to business growth and calls for partnerships on trade, infrastructure and education.

Said Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue, “We share the president’s commitment to create good jobs, improve infrastructure, reform education, and enhance our competitiveness, but we need to put words into action.” Donohue called on the administration to complete free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama and present a comprehensive, multi-year plan for new infrastructure investments that will leverage upwards of $180 billion in private capital waiting to be invested.

US Chamber 2.jpgThe president also pledged to tear down barriers to economic success by seeking new opportunities and markets for U.S. goods, reforming the U.S. tax code, and removing outdated and unnecessary regulations. While supportive of these goals, the Chamber is eagerly awaiting details from the administration on how to achieve them.

While striking a conciliatory tone, the president challenged businesses. “Now is the time to invest in America … if there’s a reason you don’t believe that this is the time to get off the sidelines, to hire and to invest, I want to know about it. I want to fix it.”

The Chamber’s Donohue embraced the president’s message of shared responsibility. “We are meeting our responsibility and can do even more if our government takes smart steps to continue to foster business and job growth. It’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and take action on a jobs and competitiveness agenda.”

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