One of the most exciting parts of the State of the Union address last week for me was the proposed partnership between businesses and community colleges to build the skills of workers to match the jobs that are vacant. I thought it was brilliant (and have been contemplating ways to get involved in helping to make that happen here in North Carolina).
Pair this with recent statements by the GOP candidates that the Obama administration has been a terrible failure at creating jobs, and it hit me: the entire conversation is wrong.
Creating public sector jobs is not the job of the President. Gutting regulations also doesn’t make that happen; but that has been what Congress has been doing with their time. The biggest lie of the recession is that we are powerless to do anything about it and need to somehow have the government save us. The recovery is in our hands.
The solution lies with the Chamber of Commerce. Local Chambers can hold meetings and round-tables to open up this dialog between business owners and community colleges or officials in local government to air their problems, find a voice for solutions, and build a team to make it happen. If there are true barriers to job creation in local businesses, this is the place for those barriers to break down.
Business owners can focus on how they can bring jobs to the US instead of shipping them overseas. There may be companies that are innovative with product creation but completely lacking in imagination when it comes to filling jobs stateside (I’m looking at you, Apple). The community college partnership is just one example. How about partnering with devastated manufacturing communities to build solutions together? Cities across the nation would love the opportunity to build a viable solution. If business owners stop taking the so-called easy way out and work for an economically sustainable solution, no one would be complaining about regulations or what the President isn’t doing.
Businesses can also become consumers of US products wherever possible. There’s a contractor, for example, who decided that he would use 5% more American-made products to build homes than he had previously and predicts he’ll create nearly a quarter of a million jobs this way. This is the kind of ingenuity business owners need to exercise to build their customer base back up. Because it’s not the richest 1% who can dig us out from a recession; it’s only through rebuilding the middle class.
The solution also rests with consumers. Everyone who buys anything has a chance to build the economy at home. Every swipe of your debit card is a vote for a company and its practices. If you check where products are made and choose the one made in the US, then you’re voting for more jobs in the US. If you own stocks, investing in companies that keep jobs in the US is voting for jobs staying in the US. It’s quite a contradiction to hear people complain about the foreign aid the government gives out when the majority of your discretionary spending goes to products made in China.
It’s not easy. It takes some forethought and focus to get there, but we do have options that don’t depend on subsidies and bailouts. We have options that are our own making. Are we going to make that future we want or hope that some politician does it for us?
My 2 cents. What do you think we can do to build the economy?