U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Automotive Training Program at the Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus, before delivering remarks to highlight the importance of "training and preparing our workforce to compete for manufacturing jobs across our country," in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 8, 2011. UPI/Jim Lo Scalzo/POOL | License Photo
DURHAM, N.C., June 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, visiting a North Carolina lighting maker Monday, met with his jobs advisory council and said employment is his first priority.
"I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers security," he declared in a speech at Cree, a LED lighting company in Durham N.C.
"Today the small business that a group of N.C. State engineering students founded almost 25 years ago is a global company," Obama said. "It's got 5,000 employees. Next month, your new production line will begin running 24/7. And soon you'll add another 400,000 square feet of space on a new site next door. So you're helping to lead a clean energy revolution. You're helping lead the comeback of American manufacturing. This is a company where the future will be won."
At the factory, Obama met with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council, led by General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt.
The group released recommendations on stimulating both short-term and long-term growth in sectors like manufacturing, construction, clean energy, healthcare and tourism.
The proposals include:
-- Working with community colleges and vocational schools to train workers.
-- Easing visa rules to boost tourism.
-- Helping small-businessmen get funding.
-- Making buildings more energy-efficient to generate construction jobs.
In his speech at Cree, Obama touted a "Better Buildings Initiative."
"Upgrading buildings for energy efficiency could save America's businesses up to $40 billion a year on their utility bills," he said. "And obviously that $40 billion could be better spent growing and hiring new workers. It will boost manufacturing of energy-efficient products like those made here at Cree. It will put contractors and construction workers back on the job."
When Obama created the council in January, he said it would "focus its work on finding new ways to encourage the private sector to hire and invest in American competitiveness."
The council is a reconfigured version of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which Obama created shortly after he took office in the thick of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, administration officials said. The original board expired Feb. 6.
The council and board are made up of non-governmental experts from business, labor, academia and elsewhere.